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Rudi Kiefer: We can take steps to address climate change
Rudi Kiefer
Ask someone in Ebenezer, Mississippi, if they’re worried about an increase in storm frequency as the climate is changing. The answer will probably be the same for residents of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Severe storms pounded the central southern states during the last days of March, leaving homes and parking garages flooded and some houses totally destroyed.

Severe weather isn’t a new occurrence during spring season in the U.S. But with the atmosphere adjusting to higher carbon dioxide levels, it’s certain now that we’ll see more extremes in the years to come. Denying the evidence from sea level or temperature measurements around the world is only part of the problem, not of the solution.

A town hall forum proposing solutions is coming to Gainesville this week. The Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, is holding a public event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in Brenau University’s Hosch Theatre, 429 Academy St.

“This isn’t an effort at indoctrination,” said Dr. Vernon Dixon, a CCL member and retired psychiatrist. “The town hall discussion ranges from scientific to moral and conservative aspects.”

Speakers like Mark Farmer, biology professor at UGA, the Rev. Bill Coates of Gainesville First Baptist Church and the Rev. John Cromartie will bring a large variety of viewpoints to the table. Brenau University, the University of North Georgia and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby are jointly sponsoring the event to present a large cross-section of the greater Hall community.

Nationwide, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby is focused on educating the public and proposing responsible emissions policies. But even on a small scale, citizens can reduce pollution and atmospheric carbon load. Instead of burning winter’s yard debris, get a chipper and shred the twigs and branches. Mixed with leaves, it produces mulch that’ll protect topsoil from erosion and fertilize the ground. Burning only turns wooden plant debris into carbon dioxide.

Chipping it allows it to rot, producing nutrients for new growth and improving our ancient, stressed-out Georgia soil. Simply piling twigs and branches up in a heap isn’t safe. It makes for a well-aerated fire hazard, waiting to go up in flames when lightning strikes.

Small solutions of this kind make a difference when lots of people implement them. For the big ones that can be shaped with government policies, the April 12 town hall meeting will present insights.

Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., is a professor of physical science and director of sustainability at Brenau University. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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