WT’s Distinguished Lecture Series to Offer Forward-Looking Vision on Climate Gridlock


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CANYON, Texas –A climate expert will discuss what solutions are both needed and possible for the State of Texas at the next installment of West Texas A&M University’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

Dr. Daniel Cohan, associate professor in Rice University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will present his research and proposed solutions at noon Nov. 8 in Legacy Hall inside the Jack B. Kelley Student Center. A pizza lunch will be served beginning at 11:45 a.m.

The lecture also will be streamed live on WT’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/watch?v=UxhwS_yayn0.

“I’ve been struck by how the future of our climate is in our hands,” said Cohan, a climate change air quality and policy expert. “The decisions we make over the next two decades in how quickly we transition to clean energy will set the trajectory for temperatures for the rest of the century and beyond.”

“Confronting Climate Gridlock: What Climate Solutions Are Both Needed and Possible for the State of Texas?” is co-hosted by the College of Engineering, the Center for the Study of the American West and the Department of Life, Earth, and Environmental Sciences.

“Dr. Cohan’s book ‘Confronting Climate Gridlock’ has a decidedly U.S. national focus on how we might address climate change while also working within the global context,” said Dr. Nathan Howell, associate professor of environmental engineering and WT’s Bell Helicopter Professor of Engineering. “It is a global problem certainly, and I think it can feel too big for us in the Texas Panhandle to do anything about it.”

Cohan’s research specializes in the development of photochemical models and their application to air quality management, uncertainty analysis, energy policy, and health impact studies.

“Instead of discussing just the causes and effects of climate change, I focus on solutions, to raise awareness of the actions we can take to slow global warming,” Cohan said. “Through my interactions with students and broader audiences, I aim to dispel feelings of both doubt and despair, and provide a nuanced view of what it will take to transition to clean energy.”

This free event is the final lecture featured as part of WT’s DLS fall schedule.

“Dr. Cohan will help us feel empowered by teaching us how we might engage in the national debate concerning how big of a problem climate change really is and also what we in the Texas Panhandle can do about it directly and through our own network influences,” Dr. Howell said.

Before joining Rice, Cohan worked for the air protection branch of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. He earned his bachelor in applied mathematics from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in atmospheric chemistry from Georgia Tech University, and served as a Fulbright Scholar to Australia at the Cooperative Research Centre for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology. Cohan is a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Young Investigator Award and past member of the NASA Air Quality Applied Sciences Team.

Dr. Cohan’s book, which was published in March, combines his own expertise along with insights from more than a hundred interviews with diplomats, scholars, and clean-technology pioneers. Grounded in history and emerging scholarship, this book offers a forward-looking vision of solutions to confronting climate gridlock and a clear-eyed recognition of the challenges to enacting them.

“Hope is at the heart of my book. But it’s not an empty hope or wishful thinking,” Cohan said. “What I lay out in my book are the difficult yet achievable steps that must be taken to develop the technologies, policies, and diplomacy needed to confront climate gridlock.”

Addressing regional challenges and making an impact throughout the region and beyond are key components of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign—which publicly launched in September 2021—has raised more than $110 million.

The mission of the Distinguished Lecture Series is to invite nationally prominent experts to the WT campus to expose students to some of the most important issues of our times and to inspire and enlighten students, faculty, and the community.

All DLS events are free and open to the public.