By Robert Connors
On April 5, there was a spectacularly successful presentation of a clarion call entitled “Responding to Climate Change in Hudson Valley” at the First United Methodist Church in East Greenbush. The event was sponsored by Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA) whose executive director, Jim Bonesteel, made the opening remarks and explained what his organization does for the Rensselaer County community.
Then, Mark Lowery of DEC’s Office of Climate Change nearly overwhelmed a spellbound crowd with a Power Point talk full of facts, figures, charts, and illustrations about the dangers of climate change and ways to mitigate it.
There were approximately 200 people in the audience (standing room only), including nearly 30 elected and appointed officials from approximately 25 nearby villages, towns, cities, four counties, and from all political persuasions, including NYS and federal representatives.
Part of Mr. Lowery’s presentation included information about state programs that help municipalities reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their costs. Robyn Reynolds, the Senior Planner at Capital District Regional Planning Commission and coordinator of the Clean Energy Communities Program (http://cdrpc.org/programs/), one of these state programs, was in attendance and gave out all her business cards to community leaders! The organizers also plan to follow-up on getting towns to investigate the Clean Energy Communities Program.
Ken Stokem of Castleton had previously heard Mr. Lowery’s presentation and felt it important that more people should too. He envisioned the forum and pushed hard to get public officials to attend.
Carrie Larson, a representative from First United Methodist Church was very impressed by the presentation and the turnout. She told the organizers, “Congratulations on such a wonderful evening…the presentation was strong and there were people present from at least 4 counties. I heard many from our church say how pleased they were to see the hall so full and to be hosting such an important meeting.”
Given how powerful the presentation was, there is hope that Mr. Lowery will make a professional video of his presentation so that a larger audience can learn from it. “What’s the point in having that information if we don’t maximize public access?” said Becky Meier, one of the audience members.
Robert Connors is a member of the Columbia County Environmental Committee