Alberta Climate Dialogue seeking participants

In the wake of the devastating floods in Alberta last year, issues surrounding water and climate change are a greater concern than ever to the citizens of this province.

Alberta Climate Dialogue, a community-university research alliance, is recruiting people from diverse backgrounds for an experimental citizen dialogue on water and climate change.

The day-long event will be held Saturday, Feb. 22 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Lethbridge. Participants will learn about the effects of climate change on water, share their thoughts on the issues, and develop recommendations for action.

This event is being organized in collaboration with the Oldman Watershed Council, a community-based, not-for-profit organization that seeks to find practical solutions to environmental challenges. This council makes recommendations to the Government of Alberta.

Gwendolyn Blue, an assistant professor in the University of Calgary’s Department of Geography, is leading the project.

“Alberta Climate Dialogue is exploring how a well-designed citizen deliberation might shift the politics of climate change in Alberta,” explains Blue. “All of us have a stake in our future climate and all of us are affected by water.”

In recruiting this group, Blue stresses that organizers are not looking for activists or industry spokespersons.

“We want to hear from the unusual suspects,” she says. “We want average citizens. People don’t need to know about climate change to take part. This isn’t an event where everybody has to believe the same thing. We want a range of people who think differently.”

The group will be assembled with the diversity encompassing gender, occupation, ethnicity and age. An honorarium will be offered to participants.

“Since the inception of the province, Alberta has been getting progressively warmer,” notes Blue. “Warming temperatures affect our water. Alberta will be facing more extreme weather events in the future, particularly higher levels of precipitation at a faster rate. But there will also be drier conditions, especially in the southern regions, which are very susceptible to drought.

“As we saw with last summer’s flood, as well as with the drought in 2001, that affects us all, not just financially, but emotionally as well. This brings incredible hardships for people.“

Blue adds, frankly: “The prediction is, we’re going to see more extreme and variable weather in the future. We need to start thinking about this in the context of climate change.”

To take part in this citizens’ dialogue please apply by Feb. 10 at or phone 403-220-7928.