Monday, October 10, 2016

Keweenaw Climate Community to hold second Climate Café Oct. 13 at Orpheum Theater; large turnout at Sept. 8 event

By Michele Bourdieu

A diversified crowd of more than 80 people attended the Sept. 8, 2016, Climate Café, sponsored by the Keweenaw Climate Community (KCC) and held in the Orpheum Theater in Hancock. Besides enjoying free pizza and beverages, participants asked questions and held discussions following presentations on "What's the Deal with Climate Change? Here KCC member Linda Rulison, third from right, leads one of the small group discussions. The second event of a four-part series will be held Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Orpheum. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- The Keweenaw Climate Community (KCC) will present "What's the Deal with Climate Change? How Did We Get Here?" from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Orpheum Theater (Studio Pizza), 426 Quincy St. in Hancock. This is the second in a four-part "Climate Café" series of free information and discussion events on climate change. Free pizza and soft drinks! Everyone is welcome! Donations are accepted.

This event will center on causes and impacts. Here are some questions that will be addressed:
  • How do humans impact the climate?
  • Why are we so energy dependent?
  • What choices do we have as individuals?
This slide by Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry, who has done extensive research on climate change, was part of her presentation at the Sept. 8, 2016, KCC Climate Café event, "What's the Deal with Climate Change?" The second event in the series, to be held on Oct. 13 at the Orpheum Theater in Hancock, will center on causes and impacts, some of which are illustrated here. Click on photo for larger version. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Environmental Historian Fred Quivik will give a short presentation, followed by small-group and general discussions.

September Climate Café event attracts large, diverse crowd

The KCC organizers of the series were delighted with the turnout at the first Climate Café held on Sept. 8, 2016, at the Orpheum. More than 80 people attended -- an audience diversified in age and background.

Jessie Knowlton, Michigan Tech research scientist in forestry and chair of KCC's publicity committee, said she was surprised and happy with the turnout.

"It's a nice mix of people from Michigan Tech and from the community -- which I think we need more of," Knowlton said. "We were very happy to have to order more pizza than we had anticipated."

At the Sept. 8 event, the audience enjoyed free refreshments while they wrote down a question to submit for the discussion. Following some humor by Chuck Wallace, Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry, who has done extensive research on climate change, involved the audience immediately with a visual comparison of heating a house in the U.P. and heating the planet. As Green asked questions of the audience, Erin Pischke, Michigan Tech graduate student and KCC member, sketched the comparison in a pair of cartoons:

Inviting audience participation, Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry, who has done extensive climate change research, and Michigan Tech graduate student Erin Pischke offer an illustration of how to heat a house in the U.P. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Green and Pischke offer a comparison of heating a house and heating the planet.

Green also showed some slides illustrating some of the warming effects of climate change on land, water and ice.

This slide shows some of the effects of temperature changes. The white arrows show increases, while the black, downward arrows show decreases or melting.

Next the audience members participated in small-group discussions with people at their tables.

Suggested questions for the table discussion were these:
  • What's unclear to you about climate change?
  • What's your biggest fear about climate change
  • What information would help you talk to friends and family members about the importance of climate change?
Linda Rulison, president of FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw) and KCC member, said she found audience members to be very engaged as listeners and participants.

"The discussion with the college students I was sitting with centered around the fact that climate change is real and the consequences are serious," Rulison noted. "So they wondered, 'How does a person talk to another person about the impacts of climate change if you are talking to a person who does not agree with you and whose opinion is religion-based and not science-based?'"

Sarah Green offered some science-based answers to questions from the audience. Here she answers a question on the types of greenhouse gases:

Sarah Green compares CO2 and methane, the two biggest greenhouse gas contributors, and mentions other greenhouse gases such as freon and nitrous oxide. She also answers a question on possible ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Following the small-group table discussions, individuals spoke about what their group had talked about:

Following the table discussions, participants report on their groups' concerns.

John Forslin (who speaks in the above video) and his wife, Marge Forslin, of Marquette traveled to Hancock to participate in this event because the issue is important to them.

"We did the climate reality training with Al Gore in Iowa in 2015," Marge Forslin said.

She noted Gore was in Iowa for three days of discussion that they attended. The event was free and the only cost was personal transportation.

"Frankly, it was a life-changing event," John Forslin added.

Melissa Davis, project manager of HEET, the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team, gave an update on HEET's work in helping local residents with home insulation and HEET's project as a semi-finalist for the $5 million Georgetown Energy Prize.

Greyson Morrow of Wakefield spoke briefly about the Citizens' Climate Lobby and their efforts to work with legislators to put a price on carbon pollution.*

Finally, Kathy Halversen, Michigan Tech professor of natural resource policy and KCC organizer, asked Sarah Green to display a visual that shows the rate of global warming from the mid-19th century to 2016:

Sarah Green concludes the Sept. 8, 2016, "What's the Deal with Climate Change?" with a graphic that shows the rate of global warming from the mid-19th century to 2016. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen.

Donna Des-Jardins of Lake Linden said she liked the graphs and visuals, especially this last one. Des-Jardins said she had learned about climate issues especially while living in Florida, where she became aware of the efforts to save the Everglades.

Bill Narki of Lake Linden said he found the event interesting.

"It hit a lot of spots," Narki noted. "Polluting the air is the problem."

Sharon Levine, KCC member, also commented on the presentations and discussion.

"The presenters spoke about complicated processes and developments in a way that people could understand," Levine said. "Dynamic and interested conversations among the participants took place in small groups and continued in questions and comments people asked. I look forward to the next presentation (on Oct. 13)."**

Levine, who collected some free-will donations for KCC at the end of the event, was very pleased with the generosity of participants. The donations helped pay for the pizza.

Following the Sept. 8 Climate Café, Kathy Halversen created a Facebook page for Keweenaw Climate Community, an open group.

"Our group was created to build regional awareness of climate change and help catalyze local action to slow and respond to climate change," Halvesen posted on Sept. 9, 2016.

The third and fourth KCC Climate Café events are tentatively scheduled as follows: Nov. 3, Climate Change Solutions; and Dec. 1, Next steps, local action to slow and respond to climate change. These events will also be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Orpheum Theater.


* Click here for info on the Wakefield Chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby.
** Originally the second KCC event was scheduled for Oct. 6, but the date was changed to Oct. 13. Click here for the event Facebook page.

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