Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a pair of local events focused on climate change. In Tupper Lake, The Wild Center hosted the second annual, Youth Climate Summit, an event that drew students from a wide range of high schools and colleges from across the Adirondacks and New York state to tackle the issue of climate change.
On Friday, I joined an interesting consortium of concerned individuals at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area for Wintergreen: A conversation about the future of winter recreation, sports and culture in the Adirondacks.
A highlight at both events was the participation of a delegation visiting from Finland. The Finns, similar to Adirondackers, are a culture that comes from a land of ice and snow. As such, the Finns are experiencing many of the same issues that we must confront, including the economics of retaining their winter pleasures.
Ted Blazer, CEO of the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, detailed the energy costs involved in making snow for the ski centers and for keeping ice on the refrigerated bobsled track, which has become essentially a "track in a tube", shielded from the sun.
The Finns have developed a similar "winter respite" so that the country's population will be able to enjoy Nordic skiing, even when Mother Nature can no longer cooperate.
Mikko Myllykoski, a director at The Finnish Science Center at Heureka, captured the audience with a presentation about the resort of Vuokatti, home to the longest ski-tunnel in Europe, which operates throughout the year. Thousands of skiers use its 1,210-meter route for training and pleasure.
Although there remain a fair number of global warming skeptics out there, any doubters are welcome to visit me in hunting camp, where t-shirts and cotton pants have replaced the long johns and Malone woolies of the past. It appears Adirondack hunters will experience another complete deer season, without a decent week of tracking snow.
The decade of 1998-2007 was the warmest on record, and according to data the warming trend over the last 50 years is nearly twice that for the last 100 years. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level."
While there are certainly a number of valid arguments regarding the causes of climate change, there is no denying the fact that global warming is occurring. For those who would claim otherwise, dual memberships with the Flat Earth Society are still available.
The Youth Summit was inspiring, intriguing and innovative. The level of enthusiasm was incredible, especially when considering the issues that the current generation will be facing.
At the gathering, I first spoke with Zac Berger from Lake Placid, who was instrumental in organizing last year's inaugural event. The enthusiasm and ideas that were generated by the initial event were a concern of his.
He explained, "We want to overcome some of the apathy that we faced in regard to our proposed actions such as composting and school gardens, recycling and energy saving measures."
"But, I believe the Youth Climate Summit is just the beginning of change and that if we accept the challenge as an opportunity; there is so much more that we can achieve."
I left the Summit with the knowledge that the next generation is willing to step up to the plate to confront what will likely be the greatest challenge we have ever faced.
My grandparents fought in the Great War (WWI) and my father and Uncles all served in the War to End all Wars (WWII). I came of age during Vietnam and lived through the end of the Cold War.
However, the current generation will be the ones that will be sent to battle in the Climate War. It will be a struggle like none that we have ever faced, since the enemy resides comfortably in the luxury of modern day society.
The battle will require simple steps, known by such terms as reusing and recycling, alterative energy and carbon reduction. These battle terms are far removed from such infamous names as Iwo Jima, Midway or Verdun; but they are no less important in the conflict.
As a rule, American society is largely reactive. We have become too comfortable and complacent, as evidenced by the current financial troubles.
If there is any hope of facing down the most looming threat that modern day society has ever faced, it will be in the hands of the next generation. From what I have seen and heard in recent days, it appears to be in good hands.
New Game Reporting Schedule
A new NYSDEC regulation, that came into effect on Wednesday, Nov. 17, will extend the game harvest reporting deadline from 48 hours to 7 days.
The new regs will allow successful deer, bear or turkey hunters up to a week to report their harvest to the DEC. Hunters can file the reports through the agency's online reporting system or by calling 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778).
It is expected that the change will give hunters more flexibility for hunters in reporting their take. Harvest reports provide the important information that wildlife biologists need to gauge the populations of many game species. By helping the mangers, hunters are helping themselves.