Organizations discuss ways to deal with climate change


Recorder News Staff

A small group of representatives from local organizations convened in the city of Amsterdam Thursday morning to hear more about a global issue: climate change.

Led by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery County's extension team leader Linda Wegner, Community Alliance for Resource Exchange held its latest networking meeting with representatives from National Grid, Girl Scouts of America, HFM Prevention Council and Planned Parenthood.

The alliance meets bi-monthly to discuss various topics with one another, giving them the opportunity to share resources and knowledge.

The program Wegner gave on climate change Thursday is actually an adaptation of what she does for the seventh-graders at the Wilbur H. Lynch Middle School in Amsterdam.

"This is a new emphasis at Cornell (University)," she told the attendees. "Cornell now has a minor in climate change."

Climate change is happening, she told the crowd, and she spoke to them about the natural history of the region, including the recession of ice after the ice age.

"The issue now," she said of the changing climate, "is it's happening at a much more rapid pace."

She told them that according to researchers, 2012 was the hottest year on record.

But it isn't just the heat that is becoming more prevalent, she explained.

Some places are getting dryer; others are seeing too much water.

This focus on water, or the lack thereof, is a big concern, she added.

"Whatever you feel about climate change, it's happening."

One of the changes people have already begun to see and will see more of will be changes to where vegetation can survive, she said.

Some trees will soon not be able to thrive in our region, she explained, and for some local producers, like those who produce maple syrup, it's going to have an economic impact.

Wegner explained that even agricultural producers are seeing and will continue to see the changes in crop diseases, crop yields, and livestock well-being.

"We're talking about real-life impacts."

And Cornell Cooperative Extension is working with farmers in order to help them in their business.

Changes to seafood will also show itself, she said, as rising temperatures will effect sea animals, like lobsters, who live better in cold water.

"A warmer world is a sicker world," she said.

National Grid representative Joann Zales who attended the meeting posed questions on the temperature changes and how local food can take an impact in the subject.

This launched attendees into a discussion on the local foods sold in grocery stores and the differences in taste between local food and food shipped long distances.

Wegner brought the conversation around full-circle to discuss the carbon footprint and what individuals can do to reduce theirs.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, a carbon footprint "describes the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere each year by a person, household, building, organization, company, or other entity."

Wegner explained some of the differences between a small carbon footprint and a large one, and encouraged the attendees to make changes to their everyday lifestyle and encourage others to do so too.

And the representatives, like Betsy Reksc, shared life experiences of seeing it work.

"My light bill went down like $20 when I replaced them (regular lightbulbs) with compact fluorescents," she said.

The morning session culminated with a short chat about the floods of 2011 and the impact of severe weather, specifically on the region.

Wegner said that with a shifting climate, these "500-year" floods that hit region experienced may be closer together than they have been in the past.

"Water is an incredible force and there's not much in stopping it," Zales said.

Christy O'Callaghan-Leue, of Planned Parenthood Mohawk-Hudson, said she has recognized the changing climate over the years.

"It's amazing to see the shift."

The next meeting of C.A.R.E. will be held on March 28, with the Office of the Aging, Reality Check, and Project Action as presenters.