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FGCU Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education Hosts Fourth Annual Fundraising Celebration March 13
2/29/2008

FORT MYERS, FL - The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education will hold its "Fourth Annual Fundraising Celebration" 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 13 at the Sanibel Island home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer. This gathering sustains the work of the Center, while bringing together people from various Southwest Florida organizations and communities who support its mission. Realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action forms the core of the Center's goals.

This year's theme, "Islands in a Gathering Storm," follows Center director Peter Blaze Corcoran's sabbatical in Fiji last fall, where he worked as a visiting research professor at the University of the South Pacific. Through this opportunity, Corcoran gained insight into the effects of global climate change on Pacific island nations.

The University of South Pacific serves as the higher learning and academic center for the entire South Pacific region, an area three times the size of Europe. It is the national university of twelve island nations.

Climate change and variability is a dramatic issue for the South Pacific. While these nations contribute least to climate change, they are experiencing the effects of this global problem sooner than other places. Rising seas, the decreased health of coral reef ecosystems, and increasingly intense cyclones threaten the drowning of livelihoods, cultures, and languages of low-lying island nations.

Corcoran said, "While the beauty of the South Pacific may seem distant and separate from our lives here in Southwest Florida, the beloved Florida shoreline does not differ much from that of the fragile South Pacific. What is occurring right now in the South Pacific could occur locally in the not-so-distant future."

"The islands of the South Pacific and Southwest Florida share a high degree of reliance on natural resources for our major industries of tourism and agriculture and we share vulnerability of fragile ecosystems to degradation and destruction from rising seas and increasingly severe storms."

Corcoran will address this issue during the celebration, speaking briefly on these global climate change connections.

For information, media representatives should contact the Center at (239) 590-7166, or Megan Melvin at (317) 407-9934, or mmmelvin@eagle.fgcu.edu.

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