Doug and I were sitting in the monthly meeting of the Citizens Climate Lobby – Iowa County Chapter brainstorming how to get more local coverage for the Paris Climate Talks, when he turned to me and suggested I write something about the contributions faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be making to the talks.  My editor liked the idea and I jumped on it.


Here it is.

Caitilyn Allen has had an early glimpse at the devastation climate change might bring.

A professor of plant pathology at the UW-Madison, Allen studies how climate change is likely to increase disease in crops and other plants. The possibilities aren’t pretty.

“Diseases likely to be worsened by the likely effects of climate change range from Stewart’s wilt, which threatens corn here in the upper Midwest, to coffee rust, which is decimating coffee plantations in Central America, thereby increasing prices and reducing availability of our favorite stimulant,” Allen says.

This is awful not just for coffee lovers, she adds. “The coffee rust epidemic has a terrible social impact in Central America,” Allen says. “UW-Madison students saw this firsthand last January when I taught a field course in Guatemala. We talked with small-scale organic coffee growers who were losing their land, and with poor itinerant coffee pickers whose kids were going hungry.”

Allen is one of several UW scientists taking her expertise and concerns to Paris for the global climate conference starting Nov. 30. The goal of this year’s summit, the 21st United Nations-sponsored event, is to ratify a new climate change agreement among nations that will put in place policies to lower global carbon emissions, not just stop their growth.


(photo credit: http://cci.anu.edu.au/news-events/climate-cafe-paris-climate-talks-media-analysis)

Representatives from more than 190 countries agreed last year to make commitments to limit global warming ahead of time to build momentum for the Paris meeting. UN executive Christiana Figures has called these commitments “a down payment on a new era of climate ambition from the global community.”


2 replies

  1. Thanks for your article, Denise. As you noted, there isn’t enough attention given to this terribly important conference happening in Paris!

  2. Great stuff We need to get everyone on board to stop the problem ASAP before it gets way worse as it will I say what can I do what can you do ??? I applaud your efforts.

    All the best Lou

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