More than 60 people attended a climate change information program hosted by the Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship on Saturday, February 29, in the Fellowship Hall at Heathsville United Methodist Church, reported Gena McKinley, NAPS Communications Director.
The program, “Leap Into a New Decade of Climate Change Awareness and Action,” included presentations on how citizens can reduce their carbon footprint, mitigate the effects of climate change, and advocate for clean energy policies.
NAPS members greeted attendees at the door offering reusable NAPS grocery bags along with the event program. A spread of refreshments and snacks was provided by NAPS members.
NAPS president Mike Ahart introduced the program and presented an overview of the scientific consensus on causes and effects of climate change. Energy generation must continue to swing toward renewable sources, but “we also need to take action on a personal and local level… it’s time to start treating energy like a precious resource and end the era of disposable everything,” Ahart said.
Charlene Talcott, lifelong environmentalist and retired Chief Ranger Interpreter for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, spoke about the local effects of climate change and sea level rise. “As John Muir stated, ‘When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.’ All of our actions affect so much more than that ‘one thing’ we are trying to change. We need to look at the big picture beyond what we think we are doing,” stated Talcott.
Dr. Lynton S. Land shared his experience of having a solar array installed at his residence, lowering his electric bill substantially. The 25-year warrantied system “should pay for itself in about ten years,” Land explained.
Marine biologist Dr. Judith Lang explained her work as Scientific Coordinator of the AGRRA (Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment). “Coral reefs all over the world are at high risk of dying” due to ocean acidification and warming temperatures caused by the rise of carbon dioxide levels. Although her organization’s work requires air travel, it now limits it to the minimum necessary and offsets the carbon emissions most recently through a program with COOLEFFECT.org, using the online mileage and carbon emissions calculator at ICAO.org. “This year we donated to their Renewable Energy Wind Turbines project in Los Santos, one of Costa Rica’s windiest regions, to generate 12.75 MW of energy, provide electricity to 50,000 people and save 11,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year,” Lang said.
Greg Allison, owner of Allison’s Ace Hardware in Lottsburg, showed a brief video outlining ways to save money and make a home more energy efficient and comfortable, including LED lighting, weatherstripping, caulking, insulation and energy saving appliances.
Former Delegate Albert Pollard, Jr., updated the audience about energy-related bills in Virginia’s General Assembly session. “If these laws pass, Virginia will go from near the back of the pack to near the front of the pack” of states with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop clean energy resources. Pollard also explained several facts and myths about all-electric vehicles. “The battery is warrantied for 100,000 miles and I’m at 53,000 miles still going strong,” Pollard said about his Chevy Bolt, adding “the only maintenance so far was refilling the windshield wiper fluid and a set of tires.”
The Northumberland County Middle School “Community Problem Solvers” presented their “Parachutes for the Planet” project, introduced by Talented and Gifted Student Coordinator Shauna McCranie. After two brief videos, the students lifted the three parachutes they had painted, with students taking turns explaining the message they were trying to convey with their section. Sixth-grader Trey Felton’s starfish theme was inspired by a story about a young boy who came upon thousands of stranded starfish on the shore. He was throwing them back one by one when a bystander asked, “What difference can you make? There are thousands of starfish and only one of you.” Throwing one starfish back into the water, the boy replied, “I made a difference to that one!”
“If we all just played a small part in conservation and education it can make a huge difference,” Felton said.
Ahart closed the program with a short list of what citizens can do to help save energy and resources, including reducing the use of disposable items, eating locally-grown foods, planting native trees, and combining trips to limit car use.
Immediately following the program, NAPS held its Annual Meeting with members and other interested attendees. Ahart reviewed NAPS’ accomplishments from its 30th year, including achieving its goal of acquiring 30 new memberships. The group also discussed plans for 2020. NAPS Board of Directors members Tommy Armstrong, Gena McKinley, and Roger Gruben were unanimously elected to a second term.