Lawmakers hear about global warming
ST. PAUL -- Global warming isn't a theory to Will Steger. For the Minnesota explorer, it's a crumbling, melting -- and, if left uncorrected, he said -- cataclysmic reality he's watched unfold firsthand. On Tuesday, Steger shared his experiences a...
ST. PAUL -- Global warming isn't a theory to Will Steger.
For the Minnesota explorer, it's a crumbling, melting -- and, if left uncorrected, he said -- cataclysmic reality he's watched unfold firsthand.
On Tuesday, Steger shared his experiences and findings on global warming with Minnesota legislators during a historic joint meeting in the House chamber.
"We have to act on this," he told lawmakers from eight House and Senate committees.
Legislators from environment, energy and transportation committees are considering bills this legislative session for greater renewable energy efforts.
Steger was joined by a choir of voices echoing his call to reverse trends that he said have left Arctic natives reeling and ice shelves dissolving.
The message: Turn it around before it's too late, the speakers said.
Among those were clergy members who implored lawmakers to take action against global warming.
"Over the eons, we have done a lot more tilling than stewarding," said the Rev. Craig E. Johnson, bishop of Minneapolis Area Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church. "We have oppressed our environment since the beginning of the industrial age."
While global warming's most visible effects come from polar regions of the planet, one expert said the heat will be felt in Minnesota if emissions practices don't change.
David Tilman, a professor of ecology at the University of Minnesota, told legislators to remember 1988 -- Minnesota's hottest year on record. If current industry practices remain, an average day's temperature in the state will have climbed 13 degrees by 2090, he said.
That, he said, would practically leave 1988 levels in the dust.
"Many, many years are going to be much, much hotter than the hottest days any of us experienced in our lifetimes," Tilman said of the possibility.
Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, said Tilman's "very stark" message hit its mark.
"We're seeing a snapshot of what our climate would look like if we do nothing 100 years from now," Moe said. "And it's a bleak picture."
But there is a workable solution, Tilman said. To level off a course that's he said is on a dangerous trajectory, he urged lawmakers to consider some remedies:
n Get 2 billion vehicles to achieve 60 miles per gallon rather than 30 miles per gallon and increase the use of mass transportation.
n Build more energy-efficient buildings.
n Invest in wind energy. A million two-megawatt windmills could displace coal-fired power, Tilman said.
n Utilize degraded grasslands for biofuel.
Acknowledging that some of those options may seem colossal, he told lawmakers that solutions can grow through time and can begin by stabilizing carbon dioxide emissions.
"The problem is not in our lack of knowledge," Tilman said, but rather, "our will to address it."
But not all legislators saw the joint meeting as a picture of political equilibrium.
On Monday, Sen. Mike Jungbauer, R-East Bethel, called the hearing a one-sided debate that didn't provide a pulpit for skeptics of global warming.
Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, said that while he's not a disbeliever of global warming, it would have been informative for industry leaders to have been able to share their points.
"We should be hearing from the other side as well," Dill said. "We should also know what people are doing to mitigate the issue."