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Ecologist speaks at Earth Day forum

April 23, 2012
By MIKE LYNCH - Outdoors Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - About 150 people showed up at the Pendragon Theatre Sunday for an Earth Day forum on climate change.

The first half of the forum featured several speakers, including Mayor Clyde Rabideau, Adirondack Green Circle leader Gail Brill and ecologist Jerry Jenkins. During the second half of the evening, participants were invited to visit "action stations" on the stage. The resource tables were run by experts on topics such as home energy efficiency, local food and community-supported agriculture, and transportation options.

The event was sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society's Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Green Circle.

Article Photos

Ecologist Jerry Jenkins talks about climate change at the Pendragon Theater Sunday during an Earth Day event.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)

Jenkins works for WIC and is the author of "Climate Change in the Adirondacks: The Path to Sustainability," a book that was published in 2010. He talked about how the extreme weather of the past year - including flooding and a warm winter - could become the norm in the future because of the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Jenkins said there is now 390 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, well past the threshold of 350 that climate scientists said in the past was a safe level. Scientists say the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the air is a result of people's dependancy on fossil fuels.

"My message to you is that the old predicability of the climate is gone," Jenkins said. "It doesn't mean that every year is going to be this way. I'm convinced we're entering a new climate period. It has the potential for getting a lot worse because this is just starting."

Jenkins was followed by Brill, who talked about what people can do in their own lives to be more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprints.

"I think we're obligated to do something, even if it's a shade of light green," Brill told the Enterprise, "even if it's maybe not taking your car and carpooling with someone else, or changing your light bulbs. There are a lot of things we can do - simple things. We do have to kick it up a notch because the time is of the essence really, as you can tell from Jerry's talk about how much carbon is in the atmosphere right now and how much we have to pull things back a bit."

Zoe Smith, director of the WCS's Adirondack Program, said she would love for the people who attended the event to walk away with a new idea or resource from the action tables.

"(I hope) that they can make a difference or make a change in their life that would then lead to small change in sustainability," Smith said.

Jerry Cheney of Saranac Lake was one of the many local residents who attended the forum. He said he attended because global warming is a serious issue and was interested in learning more about how he can make a difference.

"I'd like to be more serious about what I can do myself," he said. "Each individual can make an effect."

Rabideau, who attended the meeting with village Trustee Paul Van Cott, gave an introductory speech. When asked why he wanted to speak on Earth Day, he said he wanted to support the people.

"We have a very dynamic and committed group of people in Saranac Lake devoted to the environment. Whether the environment is just our village or the North Country, or the Adirondacks or the world, they get together, they coalesce, and they get things done," Rabideau said. "We have 150 people on a Sunday evening on a wet and cold evening, where a lot of people like to cuddle on the couch with a blanket wrapped around them watching MTV or something. They're here because they care. And if they care, I'm going to be here."



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