Environmental journalist returns to MSU to speak on climate change
Margie Bauman, a reporter with Fisherman's News, visited MSU last week to speak on climate change, fisheries and the Arctic, a subject she's become extremely familiar with in her nearly 50 years in environmental journalism.
Bauman returned to her alma mater to give a presentation on climate change's effects on Alaska, the state she has spent most of her life in. After returning to Alaska after stops with publications like the Associated Press, Bauman said that it was nice to come back to a place with such natural beauty — especially considering climate change is threatening its environmental stability.
As a longtime resident of America's largest state, she has had firsthand experience of how temperature changes have affected the Arctic ecosystem. Bauman mentioned how in years past, this season would bring sub-zero temperatures to cities like Anchorage, where she used to work for the local Daily News. Now, it's not uncommon to for Alaskans to get rainy days in October.
"When I came back to Alaska in 1990, there was four feet of snow on the ground on October 8," Bauman said. "There was no snow, it was raining on October 8 this year, just to give you an idea."
Bauman has seen Alaskan Natives who have had to move entire villages away from flooding rivers as the sea rises, and told the audience of how the famed Iditarod Trail sled dog race had to move its starting point because there simply wasn't enough snow at the usual starting point last year. She recounted a time when her coworker, long before the effects of global warming were fully apparent, made a crack about her state that proved to be scarily accurate.
"I worked with a guy from Texas, and he was always talking about the great state of Texas, so I had to remind him that Alaska was bigger," Bauman said. "He looked at me and said, 'Wait 'till it melts.' I had no idea how right he was. Alaska right now is kind of ground zero for global warming."
Bauman said it isn't always easy speaking with climate change deniers, but she tries to approach them with respect. Pointing to data from fisheries and talking about a desire to preserve food sources for future generations, she is okay with educating those who ask her how she knows what she's saying is true. Bauman said in general, those that ask are the ones who will actually be receptive to new information.
"It depends on the person," Bauman said of how she would respond to a skeptic. "Generally speaking, I've found that a lot of people, if they don't ask for advice they really don't want it. ... If somebody came up to me and specifically asked, 'Why do you think climate change is going on?' I'd be very happy to tell them."
The presentation started a little bit late; a crowd had assembled, yet Bauman was nowhere in sight. This may have been because she didn't even know she was the star of the show until the last minute. Bauman said that she was originally excited to come to MSU and hear a speaker give a presentation on the Arctic and climate change — not understanding she was the speaker the email was referring to.
"I thought somebody else was speaking," Bauman said. "I heard there was going to be an Arctic speaker and I was looking forward to hearing him, and then I found out it was me."