Climate action initiatives discussed at Women’s Network meeting

BY MARAGRET GARDINER

BCWN

The Women’s Network of Boyle County hosted Sarah Lynn Cunningham to speak on ‘Climate Action Initiatives’ at its June meeting. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Louisville Climate Action Network (LCAN).

An engineer and educator, her talk focused on what individuals and communities could do to reduce their carbon footprint. She combined her life story with a fund of information about climate change.

Cunningham first learned about global warming from her college German professor with the term ‘warmetot’, heat death. She learned how the accumulation of greenhouse gases with energy use based on fossil fuels has created a barrier above the earth to reduce the escape of heat from the atmosphere, seriously distorting weather patterns and leading to droughts, desertification and other environmental consequences.

Cunningham showed photos of the change in a glacier she visited, melting and

receding over time. This global phenomena of glacial melt as well as reduced snow melt seriously affects water resources in the Alps, the Himalayas and in the Rockies.

She showed how droughts have already decimated agriculture in areas and globally propelled the migration of peoples. She linked this to the upheavals in Syria and the migrations from Central America and Africa.

While international cooperation, national policy and state-based action are central to mitigate climate change, Cunningham focused on how personal and community choices in the use of energy can accomplish a great deal.

Cunningham recommended using energy efficient appliances, turning down thermostats two degrees in the winter (wear a sweater) and up two degrees in the summer (use ceiling fans), investing in solar panels, weatherizing and insulating your home.

All of these not only save energy, they save money over time. Moving to hybrid or electric vehicles, driving less and walking more, planting trees – all such activities make a difference.

Her LCAN website www.louisvillecan.org covers simple steps, bigger steps, civic steps and sharing these steps with others.

The central theme of Cunningham’s approach is that lowering our use of carbon-based energy saves money, creates jobs, boosts the economy and cuts down pollution with its ill-effects on health and the natural environment. When we decided to take strong action as we have done in the past to clean up the air and water, our health costs go down.

We solved the ozone depletion problem of CFCs quickly when the dangers were

understood. We can move to use renewal energy and energy efficiencies with similar speed if we begin to take these problems seriously and personally.

Every choice we take will have a knock-on effect if we talk about them and engage our friends, family and fellow citizens with their importance.