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Climate change and other pressing environmental issues will take center stage as River Action presents its 16th annual Upper Mississippi River Conference (UMRC) on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 19 and 20. The conference, which is open to policymakers, environmentalists, concerned citizens and all river stakeholders, will be from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Oct. 19, and 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Oct. 20, at Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Moline. National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Ray Wolf, also the science and operations officer for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will provide the keynote address “Climate Change in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.” At a news conference Thursday, Oct. 6, announcing the conference, Mr. Wolf said his presentation will focus on “climate change and how it is affecting us here locally in the Quad Cities. I think anybody who has been tuned to the river has noticed things in the last 10 to 20 years are not the same as what it used to be. That’s a result of increase in precipitation … resulting in an increased risk of flooding.” “Most of the time with climate change it’s the warming temperatures get all the attention,” he told reporters. “With us, especially in respect to the winter, it’s the increase in precipitation… A lot of changes we’ve seen already in the river and there are more changes to come. The UMRC event includes a host of speakers, panel discussions and workshops as well as a new lineup of related field trips across the Quad Cities region. The conference lineup also includes these three environmental experts:
- Art Cullen, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and editor of the Storm Lake Times, who will be the featured speaker at a catfish dinner at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday. He is the author of the book “Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper.”
- John Delany, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who will present “Climate Change Adaptation Thinking: Examples from the Midwest and Upper Mississippi River.”
- William Becker, executive director of Presidential Climate Action Project, who will discuss “What Are Floods Trying To Tell Us?