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November 15, 2019

11/5/2019 7:30:00 AM
'Climate, Climate Change, and Our Future' presentation Nov. 10
Submitted article by Cheryl Hanson

Dr. Rick Howard, professor emeritus at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., will present "Climate, Climate Change, and Our Future" on Sunday, Nov. 10, during the 10 a.m. service at the Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 8625 Peggy's Lane in Woodruff, adjacent to Seasons of Life.

The public is invited.

Dr. Howard, on the faculty of the Purdue University biology department for 35 years, retired in 2014 and this year, with his wife Sharron, became a permanent resident of the Northwoods.

Like many retirees who move to the Northwoods, Dr. Howard, who was raised in Austin, Texas, began his attachment to the area as a child while summering at his grandparents' place on Musky Lake.

"I've always loved the Northwoods," he said. "All those summers fishing and picking berries," is what led to the decision of bucking the retirement trend of moving south.

At the University of Texas, where Dr. Howard received his undergraduate degree in biology, he worked on researching the mockingbird. He credits his musician wife with setting him on this research path by asking the simple question, "Why do mockingbirds sing so many songs?"

By the time he received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, he switched to researching bullfrogs. He explains this transition with a tongue-in-cheek, "I figured the birds were too smart for me."

The topic of climate change, according to Dr. Howard, however, is no laughing matter. He considers it the "most significant problem that man faces." He believes "a significant fraction of the world around us will go extinct or radically change in the lifetime of our kids."

Evidence of what the future will face is already here.

"With the flooding in Florida and the fires in California, we're beginning to see that now," said Dr. Howard, who has been a frequent speaker at numerous local organizations. "We will experience more extremes from here on out."

In spreading the word about the importance of climate change, his goal is "to convince others that they need to take this seriously and get better informed."

Dr. Howard's passion for nature was born in the Northwoods. He can recall the exact spot, a half mile from where he currently lives, where he became interested in a career involving biology. It was during one of those summers spent at his grandparents' house, when he experienced a eureka moment. Although his parents wanted him to follow in his older brother's footsteps and major in business, Dr. Howard wanted to become a wildlife manager.

Although his path diverged slightly from that, he never looked back, and the Northwoods is richer for his willingness to share a lifetime of accumulated expertise.

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