Thursday, October 4, 2007

National Conversation on Climate Action - Fairbanks

October 4, 2007 at the Noel Wien Library Auditorium, over 50 gathered to participate in the National Conversation on Climate Action in Fairbanks, Alaska. Lori Hanemann, the Local Issues Coordinator at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center and member of Mothers for Alaska, organized the Fairbanks Conversation event. She states, "Fairbanks is on the verge of taking the lead in the State on sustainability and Climate Change action. Fairbanks is one of the few cities in the world addressing both mitigation and adaptation. We're living with the impacts and we're strategizing to lead the state in response and solutions. Our Mayor Jim Whitaker is making innovation plans to put us in the national spotlight! I can picture him setting the pace, showing this is a non-partisan issue, right up there beside Governor Schwarzenegger. He speaks powerfully and says loudly, it's okay to be green! That's exciting!"
Newly re-elected Assemblyman Luke Hopkins was the first presenter, and updated the crowd on the recently passed Borough Climate Action Resolution. This resolution and it's five milestones calls for the Borough to begin researching opportunities and reducing emissions for Fairbanks. Part of the resolution discusses the Mayor's Energy Plan, which Mayor Whitaker unveiled to the community. This nine-point plan is exciting and the core is comprised of renewable energy, wind, solar, in-stream hydro, and biomass.
Mike Musick from Cold Climate Housing Research Center was next to get behind the lecturn to discuss several local events coming to Fairbanks. He began by reading the Mayor's proclomation which declared October as National Energy Awareness Month. He announced a Solar Tour of Fairbanks on October 6th and the Northern Shelter Conference on the 27th and 28th of October. Go to to find out the details.
Lori Hanemann introduced the new Global Warming page on the Northern Center's website She intends the page to be a one stop resource for climate change events and news, as well as a home to a thorough list of links to other terrific resources of the local, state, and national level. Paul Klitzke, a Episcopalian Minister from Palmer, and Alaskan leader of Alaska Interfaith Power and Light, addressed the crowd without need of the microphone, and commanded the room with news of the climate change outreach to faith based groups around Alaska. The organization intends to bring their message to Fairbanks, and get the word out to local church leaders. Golden Valley Electric Association's Todd Hoener spoke about the opportunities the Utility offers to reduce your home and business energy needs and discussed the SNAP - renewable energy program. And finally, high school student, Haley Evans, told the remaining audience members about the organization she chairs, FAYEA - Fairbanks Alaska Youth for Environmental Action. This is a teen group of dynamic young people who are taking action and addressing state politicians on issues on climate change and sustainability. They have a Kick Off Party on October 6th at the downtown Alaska Public Lands office on 3nd and Cushman downtown.
The event revealed a slow but gaining momentum towards change - changing how politicians and the public think about Climate. It's no longer an argument about cause and science. Climate change is occuring and will continue to occur. Our state is the poster child, and Fairbanks is beginning to shine it's independence on the rest of the state and think differently, think sustainably and think smarter. This naturally leads to a challenge between Fairbanks and Anchorage to become the leader on taking action. Fairbanks is taking the risks, making huge leaps forward, and planning to maintain the lead into the future. Go Fairbanks!

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