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Climate change forum set for Thursday on Brenau campus
04092018 CLIMATE

Have questions about climate change? You can get some answers, or at the very least some perspective, at a free event this week in Gainesville.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby has partnered with University of North Georgia and Brenau University to organize a forum and panel on the subject. “Climate Change: A Common Sense Approach and Free Market Solution” begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in the Hosch Theatre in Brenau’s John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts.

Climate Change: A Common Sense Approach and Free Market Solution

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12

Where: Hosch Theatre, John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts, 429 Academy St., Gainesville

How much: Free

The event takes place in the orbit of Earth Day, which rolls around on April 22.

“We wanted to throw our weight behind this as sort of an Earth Day event,” said John O’Sullivan, a professor at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus. “We think this climate change narrative is one of the most imperative things for community-minded people to be able to think about in critical ways.”

O’Sullivan said the event came together through networking between UNG and the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Academics will be discussing the science behind climate change during the event, according to Vernon Dixon, an organizer of the event with the climate lobby, but the panel includes two speakers who will bring a fresh perspective to the issue: the Revs. Bill Coates and John Cromartie.

Coates, the senior pastor at First Baptist Church on Green Street in Gainesville, and Cromartie, a retired minister from Cumming First United Methodist Church, will talk about issues of morality and faith raised by climate change, Dixon said.

O’Sullivan said more Christians are coming around to the climate change issue as a matter of “creation care,” or being good stewards of God’s creation, that “help everybody to see this is not only a scientific issue, but it’s a deeply moral issue.”

Starting off the discussion will be University of Georgia professor Mark Farmer with a 20- to 30-minute presentation on the science behind study of the climate. Coates and Cromartie will have their say after the presentation.

Finally, Dixon will offer what he calls a free-market solution to climate change: A federal tax on greenhouse gas emissions that would then be reappropriated as a dividend to Americans to help pay for the increasing costs of energy as fossil fuel energy is phased out for green energy.

“It’s called a revenue-neutral carbon tax. You put a price on (energy production) to account for the damages that are caused,” Dixon said.

His argument is that climate change caused by emitters of greenhouse gases causes hundreds of billions of dollars in health costs, lost productivity and damage to the environment — costs that the public is on the hook for, Dixon said.

“It’s the best solution that we know of to combat climate change,” he said. “The prices of fossil fuels rapidly become much more expensive than the price of alternatives to wind and solar, and there’s a rapid switchover to clean energy.”

The dividend would need to be paid to all Americans to help cover increases in power, light, transportation and goods as energy becomes more expensive.

After the presentation from Farmer and discussion from the panel, the group will be available for questions from the audience.

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