By Tom McDougall
Students from the Forest Lake High school Environmental Club/ YES! Team, organized a community based Climate Convening session with assistance from the partnership of Climate Generation and Youth Eco Solutions (YES!) on Monday April 29, 2019. The partnership is funded by the McKnight Foundation.
Over 30 students, community elected officials, teachers and residents of Forest Lake attended the convening from 3 to 5:30 PM. This project is part of a state-wide effort called Youth Convening Minnesota (YCM), an opportunity for high school and middle school youth to learn about climate change and gain the leadership skills needed to convene their local community on climate change and inspire solutions, and insist on action.
The Climate Convening started with a presentation of why climate change is an urgent issue by Climate Scientist Sam Potter. The presentation identified the scientific facts of how mining and burning fossil fuels has changed the elemental makeup of our planets atmosphere, by increasing the amount of CO2 from 250 PPM to nearly 400 PPM in just the last 150 years. Natures consequence, of taking carbon buried in our planet and transferring to the atmosphere traps heat that would have re-radiated out to space. This trapped heat is now melting the polar ice caps, increasing ocean temperatures, which changes the planets jet streams, and weather patterns, impacting where we will be able to live and grow food, in the not to distant future. Next, 3 storytellers Annica Stiles, Jack Mackenzie, and Nader Mustafa, provided personal perspectives on how climate change has impacted their lives, and what they plan to do about it.
The Convening closed with three different interactive workshops. The first was a recycling trivia game attended by all participants, working at various stations to identify what waste materials could be recycled, composted, or go to a landfill. The last two workshops were participant selected:
- Space Invaders: Protecting Your Community from Invasive Species. Jaron Cook, GreenCorps Member with Anoka Soil and Water Conservation District led an interactive look at invasive species locally and ways that you can work towards preventing habitat loss in your own community, even in your backyard.
- What is my carbon footprint and how can I get rid of it? Paul White, President of PRC Wind took participants through a personal lifestyle/carbon impact assessment that was quite surprising, as well as informative of what we can change to make big impacts towards reducing our carbon emissions individually.
Major funding for the YES! program was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).