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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Believing in change: People can make a difference, Eric Hansen says

From an interview by Lee B. Roberts in the Racine Journal Times:

The spiritual aspects of climate change, rather than the technical ones, are the essence of our task as we face this complex conservation challenge, says Eric Hansen, a Milwaukee-based writer, conservationist and public radio essayist. And, conservation work —forging wide agreements on vital landscape issues, is work Wisconsinites know well and excel at, Hansen said in his public radio essay, “Copenhagen, Climate Change and Common Sense Conservation in Wisconsin,” which won him a first place commentary/editorial award from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association last year. “We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”

Hansen will share his thoughts on climate change — and our role in facing it — in a free program at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, 625 College Ave., during the July 24 morning service. His talk, titled “Our Ferocious Love of Life vs. Catastrophic Climate Change,” is open to the public.

As part of his conservation work, Hansen has authored books about his treks through the Upper Great Lakes, including “Hiking Wisconsin” and “Hiking Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.” His name may be familiar to Racinians from his visit to the Racine Public Library in 2009, where he gave a presentation about the beauty and magnetism of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Here’s what Hansen had to say when we asked him a few questions in advance of his upcoming presentation.

The subject of catastrophic climate change can seem overwhelming. How can we, as individuals, make sense of such a complex, global issue and our role in dealing with it?

First, all conservation, whether we are discussing the relatively complex notion of catastrophic global climate change or the familiar concepts of contour plowing and catch-and-release fishing boils down to the common sense goodness of one simple concept: what we have today we also want to be here for tomorrow.

Second, 350 is the most important number in the world. 350 is the carbon dioxide parts per million in the atmosphere that we have to get back to — to maintain the good life on earth, as we know it. We are at 390 now. Isn’t the concept of 350 the same thing as when we list five bass as the daily bag limit? Didn’t we adapt, and fine tune, fish and game regulations because they were necessary to protect a threatened resource? Now, we see the urgent wisdom of a planetwide agreement to protect an even greater resource. 350 is what we need, the level for sustainability, what we must push for.

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