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Downers Grove

Issues surrounding climate change discussed at global warming forum

The severity of global warming and ways to combat it were the focus of discussion July 13 during a forum at North Central College in Naperville.

The discussion was hosted by U.S. Reps. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, and Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

Featured guests included Tom Skilling, chief meteorologist for WGN-TV; Doug Sisterson, meteorologist/climate scientist for Argonne National Laboratory; Mary Gade, president of Gade Environmental Group; and Paul Bloom, associate professor of physics at North Central College.

“It is the existential challenge we face as a species,” Casten said, referring to climate change, which was a key theme in his first campaign for Congress.

Casten said something has to give in order to overcome the global warming challenge.

“While this is a massive, massive challenge for our generation, and this will require a massive amount of capital that we have the money to spend, … it’s very rare that we find the political will to spend that many dollars at once,” Casten said. “That creates a political challenge.”

Foster said having more members of Congress who recognize the severity of the problem and are committed to finding solutions is significant.

“We need informed citizens who understand the facts and the solutions that we will need to combat this,” Foster said. “It’s true that we will need new leadership at all levels that is ready to confront this challenge, to embrace the facts about our environment, and to mobilize our communities to take action. We simply cannot accept inaction on climate change. The stakes for our children and future generations are too high.”

Durbin suggested bringing together the environmental and agricultural communities in Illinois and across the nation to work toward addressing climate change.

“We have a lot of things in common and a lot of things at stake here when it comes to the future of the environment,” Durbin said. “I happen to believe that farmers can be a part of the solution when it comes to climate change. They can use their resources, their land, their planting techniques – the decision not to till land before they plant, the decision to plant trees, whatever it may be – and make it part of the solution of dealing with carbon.”

Skilling said wind and solar technologies are being used to work toward addressing climate change.

Casten said that getting new technologies into the market to confront climate change “is not a science problem in terms of deployment, it’s a science problem in terms of climate.”

“That’s not to say there isn’t a role for new technology, but if we don’t figure out why the proven technologies aren’t being deployed, we’re not solving the fundamental problem,” Casten said.

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