The executive director of Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute, Gabriel Filippelli, has released a statement and is available to comment on the Aug. 9 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which the U.N.’s secretary general has described as a “code red for humanity" due to its even starker than expected warnings about how quickly the planet is warming, and what the damaging impacts may be. 

Statement: 

"The most recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) goes farther than any previous report at pointing the change finger squarely at us. Through our carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and increasingly through various leaks of a very potent climate-altering gas (methane) from our pipelines and production facilities, we have rapidly increased our atmosphere’s heat-trapping layer. The impacts are already being felt around the globe, from crippling heat domes in the Pacific Northwest to wildfires in the United States and Europe and devastating flooding in southeast Asia, climate change is causing real and tangible harm to ecosystems and people around the globe.

"The solution is straightforward—rapidly reduce our burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heating, production, and transportation, and make a transition away from fossil fuels as just and equitable as possible. And researchers at the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI) are doing just that, focusing on energy insecurity and detailed climate modeling to predict the future localized trajectory of climate given various emissions scenarios. But the one point that the new IPCC report hammered home is that climate change is here, now, and absolutely nothing will change the on-the-ground realities that people face in confronting it over the next decades.

"And here is where ERI really shines. By engaging in conversations with communities, understanding their concerns, and—critically—helping to provide those tools to communities so that they have more agency to confront the realities of climate change and to minimize the negative impacts in their own backyards and on their own Main Streets. ERI does this by conducting detailed surveys of Hoosiers' feelings and concerns about the environment so that we know where action is needed most. ERI has developed various tools, such as the Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit (ERIT) and the Hoosier Resilience Index (HRI) so that communities can assess their own readiness to climate change impacts and start to invest in areas that will make them more resilient. And there is ERI’s signature program, the Climate Action Corps, which places IU students as externs in cities and towns that need help in measuring their climate emissions and building and implementing plans to act on climate at the local level. 

 "All of these activities are designed to help smooth the adaptation challenges that the newest IPCC report clearly shows are already here. But unlike the devastating wildfires and coastal hurricane surges that the IPCC highlight on the global scale, the Heartland is facing its own unique climate challenges and needs this type of local, homegrown assessment and solution enterprise to align the values and skills of Indiana University with the needs and sensibilities of the communities that IU serves. We at ERI are sobered by the IPCC report findings, but find solace in our steadfast focus on providing climate solutions for those who need it most."

More about Gabriel Filippelli

Gabriel Filippelli is a biogeochemist, focusing on the flow and cycling of elements and chemicals in the environment. This includes his work on pollutant distribution and exposure to human populations, and ways to engage communities to reduce their own exposures. He is also exectuive director of Indiana University's Environmental Resilience Institute, a part of IU's Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, as well as director of the Center for Urban Health at IUPUI and editor-in-chief of GeoHealth. He has well over 100 publications, ranging from technical scientific reports to essays for broader audiences. He is funded by multiple private and federal agencies and frequently speaks on topics including climate change and children's health.