Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Keweenaw Climate Community to hold 4th Climate Café Dec. 1 at Orpheum Theater; video report on October, November KCC events

By Michele Bourdieu

To open the Nov. 3, 2016, Climate Café event -- third in the series on "What's the Deal with Climate Change?" -- twins Lewis and Catherine Vendlinski, 8, of Houghton, prepare to illustrate suggestions from the audience on what to do about climate change. Assisting them are Robert Handler, left, of Michigan Tech's Sustainable Futures Institute and his twin brother, Stephen Handler, U.S. Forest Service climate specialist. The Handler twins co-hosted the event, organized by the Keweenaw Climate Community (KCC). (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- TAKING LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION, the fourth and final Climate Café event in the series "What's the Deal with Climate Change?" will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Orpheum Theater, 426 Quincy Street in Hancock. This is a FREE information and discussion event from the Keweenaw Climate Community (KCC), which sponsored the first three events in the series in September, October and November.*

You need not have attended those discussions to join this one and consider these questions: How can we make local changes now? What should the next steps be for the KCC? Discussions will be led by several climate-focused community leaders. FREE pizza and drinks will be served. All are welcome to attend including kids. There is no admission charge, but donations to help cover food and space rental costs will be accepted. The series is organized by the KCC, sponsored by the local chapter of the American Chemical Society and the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech.

Pictured here during a small-group discussion on climate change solutions at the Nov. 3 Climate Café in the Orpheum Theater are, from right, Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry and climate change researcher; Sarah's husband, Floyd Henderson, taking notes; Parth Bhatt, Michigan Tech graduate student in forestry; and Nancy Langston, Michigan Tech professor of environmental history.

The first three Climate Café events were well attended by diverse community members, educators, students and families. Following presentations by experts on climate issues and general question and answer sessions, the audience was asked each time to break up into small groups to discuss some questions on a climate topic and then report on their discussions or submit comments in writing. KCC also began a Facebook Page for added information and communication among those interested in the topics.**

In September the discussion began with an introduction by Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry, who has done extensive research on climate change. Audience members then discussed their own ideas on climate change in small groups and reported on their discussions. In October Fred Quivik, retired Michigan Tech professor of environmental and technological history, presented human causes of climate change from a historical perspective. The November session was led by Robert Handler of Michigan Tech's Sustainable Futures Institute and his twin brother, Stephen Handler, a U.S. Forest Service climate specialist.

October Climate Café: "How did we get here?"

During the Oct. 13, 2016, Climate Café, historian Fred Quivik displayed this graph showing world use of different types of energy from 1850 to 2000. 

On Oct. 13 Fred Quivik, historian and retired Michigan Tech professor of environmental and technological history, traced the history of human interaction with the planet, demonstrating how machines eventually replaced manual labor, thus requiring energy from wood and then coal and other fossil fuels -- leading to the current crisis of climate change from too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Fred Quivik, retired Michigan Tech professor of history, opens the October 13, 2016, Climate Café on causes of climate change with questions for the audience on types of energy. Keweenaw Climate Community (KCC) member Erin Pischke draws images of their answers. Click on YouTube icon for larger screen. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

In this video clip Fred Quivik demonstrates how industrialization with coal developed, beginning with the use of coal for heat and cooking in 16th-century England. In his presentation Quivik refers to The Subterranean Forest: Energy Systems and the Industrial Revolution, by Rolf Peter Sieferle.

Using this table on land use in England and Wales, Quivik discusses how forest land continued to be reduced -- first by conversion to pasture land and then by agricultural use.

Following his talk on climate change from a historical perspective, Fred Quivik reads questions from the audience for general discussion.

One comment on the effects of eating meat led Quivik to display this graph comparing  amounts of CO2 produced in various types of food production.

During the Oct. 13, 2016, Climate Café event, following the small-group discussion, participants comment on energy uses that are within our control in the Keweenaw. Kathy Halvorsen, Michigan Tech professor of natural resource policy and KCC organizer, leads the discussion.

Mike Schira, district educator for Michigan State University Extension, had a positive reaction to the discussions.

"When we talk about food production that's a core of vital use of our energy as opposed to recreational or casual use," he said.

Enjoying one of the small-group discussions during the Oct. 13 Climate Café are, from left, Mary Ackerman of Cody, Wyoming (and Baltic/Misery Bay): Karen Johnson of Baltic; and Karen's sister-in-law, Shan Laitila (married to Bill Laitila, former Hancock mayor) of Hancock and Cody, Wyoming.

November Climate Café: Solutions

"What can we do about climate change?" was the question for discussion at the Nov. 3, 2016, Climate Café. Robert Handler of Michigan Tech's Sustainable Futures Institute and his twin brother, Stephen Handler, a U.S. Forest Service climate specialist, hosted the event, asking the audience to come up with possible solutions.

To begin the third Climate Café event on Nov. 3, twin brothers Robert and Stephen Handler ask the audience for their ideas on what to do about climate change. Twins Lewis and Catherine Vendlinski, with Robert's help, illustrate the ideas -- ranging from "abandon New Orleans" to electric cars to public transportation and renewable energy. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Enjoying the free pizza during the Nov. 3 Climate Café at the Orpheum, Lewis and Catherine Vendlinski are pictured here with their parents, Jim and Andi Vendlinski of Houghton. 

Robert Handler, standing, and his twin brother, Stephen, foreground, asked the audience to consider two possible concepts in dealing with climate change -- mitigation and adaptation.

Stephen Handler introduces the twin concepts of mitigation (to slow down climate change) and adaptation (to soften the blow). Robert then talks about mitigation -- reducing or preventing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Here Robert Handler of Michigan Tech's Sustainable Futures Institute discusses energy efficiency and ways to mitigate climate change. When he compares reducing fuel efficiency in vehicles to reducing vehicle use by half, Richelle Winkler, Michigan Tech associate professor of sociology and demography, comments on why the second choice is better.

Stephen Handler fields audience questions and comments on the importance of what we do now for the climate health of both present and future generations.

Among the younger members of the audience on Nov. 3 were these Michigan Tech students -- from left, Sam Dix of L'Anse, student in mechanical engineering; Kelsey Carter of Knoxville, Tenn., Ph.D. student in forest science; and Jeremy Luebke of Chicago, student in environmental engineering (celebrating the Chicago Cubs World Series victory with his hat).

During the small group sessions on Nov. 3, audience members were invited to write down suggestions of solutions to climate change on post-it notes under general categories such as infrastructure, water quality, renewables, energy conservation, forests, agriculture and more. Since then Robert Handler compiled these brainstorming ideas into a long list which he posted recently on the KCC Facebook page. Click here to see his Nov. 25 post with the list attached.

"We will be building on these ideas to talk about local actions that our group wants to work on," Rob Handler writes.

He encourages everyone to attend the next Climate Café this Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Orpheum. The KCC wants to gather a community of interested people who will help plan the future priorities for their grassroots organization. Thursday's meeting will begin at 6 p.m. with a few five-minute presentations from local people who are developing responses to climate change. Then the audience will break into groups according to interests and start making plans.


* See our Oct. 10, 2016, article: "Keweenaw Climate Community to hold second Climate Café Oct. 13 at Orpheum Theater; large turnout at Sept. 8 event."

** Click here for the KCC Facebook page.

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