Climate response draws dozen organizations

A display outlining how to talk about climate change is pictured at the Climate on Earth Day event held at Peter White Public Library earlier this year. John Forslin, who organized the Climate on Earth Day event, has brought over a dozen organizations together for the Building A Community Climate Response event to be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the library’s community room. The event aims to educate the public about the many local efforts underway to combat climate change, start conversations and give area residents a chance to get involved, Forslin said. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Protecting local lands and waters. Repairing electronics to prevent them from going into the waste bin. Teaching area residents how to debunk “climate myths.” Offering a spiritual connection with nature.

These are just a few examples of activities by local individuals and organizations that aim to combat climate change.

To learn more about these efforts, area residents can attend the Building a Community Climate Response event from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the community room at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette.

“We’re all in this together,” said John Forslin, event organizer and a leader with the Climate Reality Project Upper Peninsula Chapter. “And there are a variety of ways of responding to the challenges to create a resilient, cognizant, aware community. We all have a role to play.”

The event will feature information, representatives and presentations from the Climate Adaption Task Force, the Superior Watershed Partnership, the Climate Reality Project, the Citizens Climate Lobby Marquette Chapter, the Repair Cafe, U.P. Wild Church, Transition Marquette County, the Marquette Food Co-op, the Queen City Seed Library, the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, StyroFree Marquette, Alger County Amateur Radio Service, and the website Skeptical Science.

From 3 to 6 p.m., attendees will be able to view exhibits, speak with group representatives and pick up educational materials. From 6 to 8 p.m., group representatives will give short presentations.

It’s important to bring these groups together and educate the public, organizers said, as it can start more conversations about how to address climate change as a community.

“Attendees to the event should take pride in the fact that our community has multiple champions working towards a more resilient society,” said Emily Leach, chair of the Climate Adaptation Task Force and senior planner with Marquette County. “I encourage all ages to attend the open house to see where they can support current efforts or to see where a gap in efforts is and choose one thing to take action on to support a sustainable community. In order to make strides in reducing (the) future impact of a changing climate, we must take actions locally and not get overwhelmed.”

Bringing so many different perspectives and approaches together can help get more people into the effort, organizers said, as some might be inspired by a spiritual connection with nature, while others might be called to action after learning the facts of climate science.

For example, the U.P. Wild Church — a nonprofit Christian-based, cross-denominational collaborative between the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America — aims to “uncover the wealth of wisdom within the Christian tradition that talks about our role of being stewards of creation,” U.P. Wild Church coordinator Lanni Lantto said.

“What we found is that for some people — especially within the faith community — with these issues, before they’re going to do something, they need to feel something again,” she said.

On the science side, Dan Bailey, a website administrator with the international, volunteer-run Skeptical Science website, wants to help people better understand climate science, the facts and the myths surrounding it.

“What I do with Skeptical Science is help with the communication of what the science actually says to go as opposed to what people with potential agendas say that it says,” Bailey said. “So part and parcel of that is letting the public know what actually the science says about a particular subject within the field.”

The event also aims to help educate those who may not believe climate change is occurring, organizers said.

“I encourage ‘climate skeptics’ to attend, and to not get wrapped up in the nitty gritty science,” Leach said. “If you don’t believe in human-caused climate change, at least accept that humans have created a lot of infrastructure over the last century, we have a booming population that will require more infrastructure, and that our assets need to be protected from the extreme weather events we are seeing more frequently.”

No matter what the inspiration or rationale might be, it’s important to get active and learn more, Lantto said, as: “We are called to change our lifestyles in reaction to that for the betterment of not only ourselves, not only the planet — but for our children.

“We live in a living, breathing ecosystem full of trees and creatures here in the Upper Peninsula all around us, and it’s time to fall back in love with them,” she said. “Realize that we’re not protesters, we’re protectors, and that’s empowering. But it’s time to step into that role now. This is a pivotal time in history.”

Even for those who can’t attend the event, Forslin emphasized the most important thing that can be done in regards to climate change is: “Talk about it and don’t stop.”

Bailey echoed this sentiment: “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. And that starts with talking about it when it comes to climate change.”

To learn more about Skeptical Science, visit skepticalscience.com; to learn more about the Climate Adaptation Task Force, visit superiorwatersheds.org/catf; to learn more about the Marquette County Master Plan and participate in a survey, visit www.mqtcoplan.org; to learn more about U.P. Wild Church, visit facebook.com/UPwildchurch; to learn more about the Climate Reality Project, visit climatereality project.org.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.


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