Speaker Series Welcomes Josh Fox

By John Stran 

The Fall Lecture Series on Energy and the Environment is in its fifth year of trying to educate and raise public awareness on global environmental threats.

The most notable name on the list of speakers is Josh Fox. Fox will perform a live version of his upcoming HBO special, “The Truth Has Changed,” at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13, in Cushwa Hall, room B112.  

Fox is a political and environmental activist who has won a primetime Emmy and the Sundance special jury prize for his 2010 film “Gasland.”

Ray Beiersdorfer, geology professor at Youngstown State University and founder of the lecture series, said it is important to have the event at YSU because it allows students to interact with different scientists from different fields.

Beiersdorfer said he’s most excited for the Fox lecture and is pleased the event is free to the public.

“In New York, tickets for Fox’s show are $45 to $90,” he said.

Beiersdorfer said he met Fox at an event in Washington D.C., and Fox has been promising to speak at the series for several years.

The first night of the event, Beiersdorfer spoke to a light audience of mostly middle-aged environmental enthusiasts about future presenters and a recent small earthquake near Ashtabula.

The second night showcased Rosanna Esparza, a gerontologist-turned-environmentalist from California.

Esparza spoke on the impact of oil and gas development on a fenceline community.

Photo courtesy of Ray Beiersdorfer

She said within her activism she enjoys the ability to work with local residents and the willingness of neighborhoods to become work groups.

The lecture series will also showcase a few film screenings including “Invisible Hand,” which explains the rights of nature and is executive produced by Mark Ruffalo.

Beiersdorfer said he is attempting to arrange for Ruffalo to video chat with the audience after the film.   

Besides Beiersdorfer, other local speakers have been scheduled for the series as well, including Jimma McWilson of the Youngstown NAACP.

Doug Fowler, a former physics teacher at YSU, attended the event and has presented in previous years. He will speak this year on an unscheduled date about Apollo 8, described by NASA as the first space crew to see the far side of the moon.  

Fowler said it’s important to hold these lectures because it’s crucial to have conversations about a high technologically driven future.

“We put a lot of faith in technology hoping it will save us,” Fowler said. “Students are often steered into STEM programs sometimes not knowing what it is.”

Fowler will discuss STEM during his lecture, as well as the solution to an overbearing technological future, which he thinks lies within the ethics of those who create it.  

The lectures, which began Sept. 5, will be free to the public and held Wednesdays and Thursdays in September and solely on Wednesdays in October until Nov. 14.  

For a list of all speakers, event times and locations,visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/ysu-2018-fall-semester-speaker-series-on-energy-and-the-environment-16580665856