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A serious conversation about climate change

After weeks of extreme weather across the region and a visit from Bill Nye it only seems appropriate communities in western Kentucky sit down to have a serious conversation on climate change.

Hurricanes in New York City, wildfires in California and floods in Colorado may dominate the news cycle. But that doesn’t leave communities across the Midwest untouched.

The Great Rivers Group of the Sierra Club will hold a panel on Thursday, February 20th at 7.p.m. in Jesse D. Jones Hall (MSU Chemistry building) Rm. 1212. The event is sponsored by Toyota of Murray.

The panel will feature three speakers, each of which is well versed on the local, statewide or global climate situation.

Erica Peterson is Environmental Reporter for WFPL/NPR in Louisville. She has covered topics that run the gamut from stories about the region’s biodiversity to coal mine safety and pollution issues. 

Assistant Prof. Scott Byrd teaches sociology at Murray State. His research focuses primarily on investigating the dynamics of globalization and development, social movement organizations, and environmental policy. 

Cara Cooper is lead organizer for the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition. She is currently spearheading the move for clean energy legislation across the state, as well as organizing college campuses across Kentucky to embrace better environmental policies.

Toyota of Murray General Manager Andy Foley says Toyota is committed to reducing its environmental impact and helping local communities.

“As a local representative of Toyota Motor Corporation, we feel led to do our part to follow this same philosophy which in part led to the installation of our nearly 50kW solar panel system, one of the first in Calloway County,” Foley said. “By embracing alternative forms of energy and supporting organizations like the Murray Environmental Student Society, we ultimately promote our own product and help retain natural resources for future Calloway Countians.”
Foley says its important to educate people on the local level in order to affect change on a global scale.

“Today a very different world exists and more people are embracing the idea of reducing and reusing and cars like the Prius have been the spearhead in changing our perceptions of what it means to be environmentally friendly,” he said. “ Saving energy is not hard, it’s not necessarily more expensive to do, it just takes a conscious effort. This is why we support events like this to help educate and break down the barriers associated with changing our behavior.
Dianna Riddick is chair of the Sierra Club’s Great Rivers Group. She says western Kentucky will not be exempt from the effects of climate change and we should do our best to prepare for its impact.

“There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding around this very politicized issue,” Riddick said. “Western Kentuckians deserve to hear good solid information in an open discourse format. Come and ask questions of the panelist. Figure it out for yourself.”


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