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April 28 symposium, April 22 film focus on combating climate change

SARANAC LAKE – To anyone who’s been paying attention lately, climate change can seem to be an overwhelming, even insurmountable, problem. Yet, countless government entities, nonprofit organizations and individual citizens across the globe are moving with urgency to address this issue–through public policy changes and proposed new legislation and by promoting climate-friendly choices.

Here in the Adirondack North Country, many are eager to learn more about these exciting initiatives, and the 39th annual observance of Earth Day is a perfect time to do so.

On Sunday, April 28, from 1 to 4:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church, 57 Church St. in Saranac Lake, Adirondack Voters for Change (AVfC) will celebrate Earth Day by presenting a climate change symposium focused not so much on the problem, but rather on some actual solutions.

“Climate Action: What Are We Doing About Climate Change?”–co-sponsored by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake, Paul Smith’s College, and TriLakes 350.org–highlights actions being taken at all levels of government and society, from the Green New Deal at the federal and state levels to Climate Smart Communities and efforts by local youth in the Saranac Lake-Lake Placid region.

Scheduled speakers include:

-Richard Brandt, science manager at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at Whiteface Mountain, who will provide a brief overview of the latest scientific understanding of climate change;

-Joe Henderson, Ph.D., professor of environment and society at Paul Smith’s College, on societal attitudes and the Green New Deal;

-Cathy Brown, volunteer with a local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, on efforts in the US Congress to pass the Carbon Dividend Act;

-Dazzle Ekblad, climate policy analyst with the state Office of Climate Change, on the Climate Smart Communities program–in which the village of Saranac Lake is an active participant;

-Village Trustee Patrick Murphy, along with students from Saranac Lake High School and Paul Smith’s College, on the CSC program and other local efforts to deal with climate change;

-Emmet Smith and Louise Gava of Northern Power and Light on renewable-energy options for our region;

-Betsy Brooks, head of technical services and automation with the Clinton/Essex/ Franklin Library system, on the global project known as “Drawdown;”

-Saranac Lake and Lake Placid high school students on local composting and the plastic-bag ban; and

-Caroline Dodd, who is currently studying environmental and sustainability sciences at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences of Cornell University, on currents in the youth climate movement.

Peter Crowley, managing editor of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, will serve as emcee, and representatives of several local organizations working on climate change will be on hand to meet and greet the public and provide literature. The event is free, including refreshments, and all are welcome to attend and participate.

“This symposium is an ideal opportunity for members of the public to not only find out what actions others are taking to slow and even reverse climate change, but to also determine how they can join in and be part of the solution,” said Ellen Beberman, who chairs the AVfC Earth Day/Environmental Committee comprised of the principal organizers of the event. “We intend this to be part of an ongoing conversation about moving towards a carbon-neutral world.”

Steve DeHond, member of the TriLakes chapter of 350.org, agrees.

“An informed electorate is a powerful tool to help address this fearsome, growing danger,” he said. “The world has come a long way in understanding the causes of climate change and its devastating impacts. We look forward to hearing from professionals, concerned students and local citizens on steps that can be taken to reduce the impact and amount of greenhouse gases. Tri- Lakes 350.org congratulates Voters for Change for putting together an impressive array of speakers.”

Working hand in hand with the AVfC committee is the event host, the First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake, whose members view the symposium as another instance of their mission to serve others. “The First Presbyterian Church of Saranac Lake is a nationally certified Earth Care Congregation,” said Pastor Joann White. “The church takes seriously its calling to care well for God’s good creation. Our earth care efforts include ongoing building improvements to reduce our carbon footprint, community gardening, Adopt-a-Highway clean-up, the annual Earth Care Coffee House to benefit ‘Clearwater,’ environmental education for members and friends, and weekly prayers in worship for the awesome planet that has been entrusted to our care.”

To learn more about this event, contact Adirondack Voters for Change at vfc2014ny@gmail or call 518-637-6653.

The “Climate Action” symposium is the second of two AVfC events marking Earth Day. On Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m.–the evening of Earth Day itself–Voters for Change will screen “The Age of Consequences,” a documentary feature that investigates how, in the words of the U.S. Department of Defense, “climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.”

The film will be shown at the John Black Room of the Saranac Laboratory Museum, 89 Church St., in Saranac Lake, and is open to all. There is a suggested donation of $10, with students admitted free.

Refreshments will be provided, and filmgoers are invited to stick around following the screening for a brief discussion of the film and the vital issues it raises. For more info on the screening or its sponsor, visit AVfC’s Facebook page–facebook.com/AdkVotersForChange.

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