Jerry Jenkins addresses a full house at the Pendragon Theatre April 22.
On Earth Day, April 22, The Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Green Circle held a forum at the Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake to discuss global climate change and its impact upon the Adirondacks.
“Our role in the climate change issue is to provide the scientific background – with a focus on the response of wildlife - to help influence and inform policies in the region,” said Zoe Smith, director of the WCS Adirondack Program.
The keynote speaker at the event was WCS ecologist Jerry Jenkins, author of the 2010 book Climate Change in the Adirondacks.
“Climate change is here and the period where it becomes destructive is no longer ahead of us – it is here now,” said Jenkins. “The atmosphere is warmer and wetter – which means energy in the atmosphere. Everything gets more intense.
“Warming temps are not benign,” continued Jenkins, “these will be wildly uncertain,” he said, citing recent extreme weather events.
Putting the issue in economic terms, Jenkins said, “Take the year April 2011 through April 2012, and we’ve had major Champlain flooding, Hurricane Irene, and a virtually snowless winter – hurting farms, town budgets, washing away houses, and the snowmobiling and cross country ski seasons were nonexistent. It has been 12 months of continuous economic loss.”
While Jenkins’ talk continued about many of the ecological and economic problems resulting from global climate change, he also outlined some steps that could be taken to combat its progress.
“We have to think about alternative energy futures and we have to think about non-fossil fuels futures, and we have to think hard,” he said.
Jenkins also discussed some practical steps people can take in making their homes more energy efficient which are outlined in his book.
“Sooner or later we have to take old, leaky houses and turn them into tight, efficient houses.”
That sort of personal and community change is the focus of The Adirondack Green Circle who co-sponsored the event. “We are a grassroots community group tackling change in four arenas; local food, energy efficiency, overconsumption and waste, and self-reliance,” said Gail Brill, founding director of the Adirondack Green Circle. “We are about bringing the community together and to make the community a better place,”
To this end, the event featured several information tables on local community supported farms, public transportation, and home energy audits.
Jenkins said that these sorts of community movements give him hope about the issue. “The best things that I see are the growing awareness of kids in elementary schools and the action on high school, and college campuses,” said Jenkins.