On Day 2 of ISTAS 2023, Second Climate Change Panel: “Public Safety Technologies and Climate Change”

By on September 15th, 2023 in Articles, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blog Posts, Conferences, Environment, Health & Medical, Human Impacts, Social Implications of Technology, Societal Impact

The 2023 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS 23) continued into its second day of regular programming on Thursday September 14, and included the presentation of a second panel related to climate change, this one focused on “Public Safety Technologies and Climate Change.”
Moderator and IEEE SSIT President Luis Kun opened the panel with a discussion of the importance of connecting IEEE Public Safety Technology Initiative, and the Climate Change Sustainability Initiative. Recent events such as the fires in Maui, Hawaii, and floods in Libya were at least exacerbated by rising global temperatures. The lack of adequate preparation, and the ongoing resulting human suffering, even while some of the risks were known in advance, point to a great need for better preparation for what is surely to come in the future, as climate instability continues to increase.
Thursday’s panel featured a number of representatives from IEEE Division VI technical societies, of which the IEEE Society on Society Implications of Technology (SSIT) is a member.
Wei-Jen Lee, chair of the IEEE Technical Activities Climate Change Program, spoke first and discussed urgent issues of focus including wildfire prediction, prevention, mitigation, and intervention; the need for increased energy generation to meet demand and an increasing world population; dealing with E-waste, agriculture needs, and floods. Lee noted that so much of what needs to be done related to climate change is “easy to say, but difficult to do.” For example, he said, renewable energy sources are needed, such as PV panels, but often there is an issue with where the panels can be constructed. “How do we minimize the impact no daily life is the challenge,” he said.

Johann Marquez-Barja, of the IEEE Education Society (Div VI), said the Education Society is in the early stages of analyzing and developing approaches to education related to climate change. “The aim is to disseminate information on state-of-the-art solutions,” he said, with efforts aimed at end users, not just at the college level, but also at K-12 education levels.
Mariusz Malinowski, President of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society (Div VI), said his society is working on climate change issues related to energy, water, food, medical access, and education. He noted that the situation faced by Poland in absorbing large numbers of refugees from the Ukraine war was instructive about what countries around the world might experience related to climate change disasters and forced migration in the future. “We had to make changes in a couple days with emergency migration,” he said, and this may also occur worldwide as a result of climate change related events, disasters and emergencies.
Alan Chong is President of the IEEE Professional Communication Society (Div VI), and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, where he teaches science communication. Related to the climate change emergency, he noted the “failure as scientists and as a field to communicate” effectively about climate change, and the “urgent need to address socio-technical changes,” to support adoption and appropriate use of new technologies, and to “promote a rapid response to climate change.”
“We need to frame science in a way that will resonate with the public,” he said.

Kamal Al-Haddad, Director, IEEE Division 6, then spoke about the importance of the seven IEEE Division VI societies combining efforts in work to address climate change. The seven Division VI societies (Education, Industrial Electronics, Reliability, Product Safety Engineering, Professional Communication, Technical and Engineering Management – and the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology), comprise 35,000 total IEEE members, about 15% of the total IEEE membership. He cited increasing efforts being made for the groups do more to share distinguish lecturers, advertise across societies, and stay interconnected through society websites. In addition, he suggested continued efforts to interface with IEEE Humanitarian Activities.

Steven (Zhaojun) Li, President of the IEEE Reliability Society, also affirmed the Reliability Society’s commitment to supporting IEEE climate change initiatives. Finally, Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan, past president of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee, spoke about the vast needs related to climate change and humanitarian activities. He highlighted the need for disaster response, quick teams of engineers available in a crisis. “This is a different problem space,” he said, where boot camps can be effective in training groups of volunteers. Coordination with groups such as the International Red Cross, is critical. “We should create an ecosystem,” he said, to help address and mitigate impacts, using best practices.

– Terri Bookman