Community leaders gather to discuss climate change

Climate change has been a heated debate in the public forum for decades.

It’s a term often interchanged with global warming, but the two are considered separate phenomena. However, scientists say both are being accelerated by the added human element.

“Climate change is probably a much more suited term as to what’s going on and has been going on since the beginning of time here on Earth because we do go through warmer periods and colder periods,” National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Zika said. “The global warming aspect comes about because of, obviously, the added greenhouse gasses. It truly is leading to a warmer time period.”

During their round table discussion, Marquette’s community leaders heard testimony about what could be done at the local, state and federal levels to combat climate change’s accelerated pace.

“I think the key points that we want to get across are that Michigan needs to take action in the next couple of months, the next year, and putting in place an energy plan for the state that allows us to move toward clean energy, provides an adaptable and reliable energy system so that we always have the lights when we flip the switch on, and allows us to move forward as a state toward clean, efficient energy,” Michigan League of Conservation Voters deputy director Jack Schmitt said.

Due to the rising costs of energy sources like coal, some believe renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar power have become more viable, even more efficient. Over the past decade, Michigan has been very successful in fostering those platforms.

“The good news is that there are solutions,” Schmitt said. “We can advance an energy future for our state that’s cleaner and the way to do that is bring community leaders together, business leaders together to talk with each other and to start brainstorming how each individual community can combat the challenges ahead of us.”

And with stark winters like this most recent one, it’s important to remember that one year of weather in a single region isn’t an accurate view of climate as a whole.

“One of the things about climate change is, oftentimes, you will see a significant number of more extreme weather events that occur,” Zika said. “Last winter was kind of a very cold one locally, but we can’t just take a year’s worth of data and say, ‘well, that is now the new climate’ or ‘that’s where we are going’.”

So, keep in mind, what you see when you look outside isn’t necessarily a good gauge of Mother Nature’s changing tides.