Locals rally in the Ped Mall to fight climate change


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Local climate-change activists met Thursday outside Rep. Dave Loebsack’s office on the Pedestrian Mall to rally for climate-change legislation, and proponents say today’s children are a primary motivation for change.

Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, and community member Ingrid Belding, both passionate advocates for doing something about climate change, coordinated the rally. Among the issues discussed were the ozone layer, climate change, clean energy, carbon footprints, and greenhouse gases.

Hogg’s interest in this rally came from his involvement with the Iowa Climate Advocates, an initiative that he formed in December 2010. It was created because of the lack of Iowa organizations that focus efforts in support of climate action.

Hogg’s emphasis Thursday was primarily toward prompting legislative change.

“We absolutely need a national policy to reduce greenhouse gases and prepare cities for extreme weather if we want to deal effectively with this problem,” he said.

A number of other Iowa legislators are involved in the initiative to take action against climate change, and there is a series of similar events taking place statewide this week, in honor of Earth Day.

Elwynn Taylor, a climatologist and agricultural meteorologist at Iowa State University, feels confident that mending can be done.

“The problem is that we had a gas added to the atmosphere by people that wasn’t there naturally,” Taylor said. “That gas was freon and things like it. The buildup of freon is destroying our ozone layer. But we’ve taken great strides to stop releasing freon into our atmosphere. Nature should correct the situation back to normal over the course of 150 or so years.”

However, there is another problem. This one is less of an easy fix — energy efficiency.

“We want energy to operate our cars, to make our homes comfortable and bright — this is all good, except that most of our energy is coming from fossil fuels,” he said. “When we burn fossils faster than the Earth creates fossils, it increases the carbon dioxide in the air.”

If people had cleaner energy, they wouldn’t be putting extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Clean energy includes wind energy, biofuel, and solar energy.

Sen. Dennis Guth, R-Klemme, remains skeptical about the legitimacy of climate change and greenhouse gases. He has a very different goal for 2013.

“I think a goal for 2013 is to decide if [climate change] is real or not,” Guth said. “And not just if it’s real, but if human activities have had a significant influence on it.”

A variety of climate-change groups had representatives present at the rally, including 100 Grannies, Chasing Methane, Planet Recapture, and Student Sierra Club.

Becky Ross, a member of 100 Grannies since its inception a year ago, is particularly concerned about the carbon footprint of plastic bags.

“[Plastic bags are] a fossil fuel product, which we use for an average of 12 minutes each,” Ross said. “Why should we use them if there are eco-friendly, reusable grocery sacks available?”

100 Grannies is a program that meets once a month to discuss the effects of climate change and to do anything the members can to prevent it.

The rally consisted primarily of local children holding hand-made posters explaining the issues about which they were most concerned. The children then made brief statements explaining their posters. There were 20 children present at the rally, making them the strongest represented group of the bunch.

“The kids were really involved,” said Belding, whose daughter took part in the rally. “They’ve written letters, and even made a PowerPoint explaining the dangers of climate change.”

And Belding said children should be interested in the cause, because they will be the ones affected by the climate changes.

“It’s their future, after all,” Belding said.

Hogg expressed a similar sentiment.

“If you want to care about the children, you need to care about climate change,” he said. “It’ll be one of the defining issues of their lifetime.”

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