l to r: Dr. Scott Bird, Erica Peterson, Kara Cooper and John Walker
(Murray KY - February 20, 2014) - Moderator John Walker set the parameters for the panel discussion in the new chemistry building on Murray State University‘s campus.
“We are not here to debate whether climate changes exists or not.” He said.
What the panel was there to discuss was how to cope with a changing climate. At the Sierra Club event, Dr. Scott Bird, MSU sociology professor, Kara Cooper of the Kentucky Students Environment Coalition and Erica Peterson, a Louisville reporter on environmental issues came at the subject from different perspectives.
Bird spoke of the ethical issues surrounding emerging societies and their relationships with rich countries. Too often, he said, emerging societies are saddled with legal entanglements when dealing with countries with 150 years of carbon emissions.
Peterson described the evolution of energy policy and the ongoing effort to educate the public. Half the public thought that carbon dioxide is regulated by the federal government. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago, she said, that the Environmental Protection Agency found harmful effects from carbon dioxide. That started the regulatory ball rolling.
Cooper spoke passionately of the harm being done by coal. She said the debate over natural gas versus coal masks the real solutions to climate and energy issues. Sustainable sources of energy, solar, geothermal and wind, can create jobs without damaging the environment.
What is needed, according to Bird, are decentralized regions of energy production, food produced closer to the market, which would cut back on long distance trucking and the need for mega farms that use more than their share of resources.
The bright spots are cities that are moving to sustainability, colleges like Berea that are carbon neutral and increased knowledge of the real costs of the present production of energy.
For the crowd of seventy five that turned out on a night that saw a temperature drop of forty degrees in just a few hours, that would have to be enough for now.