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StepItUp draws attention to global climate change

NORTH RIVER A rally last Saturday calling attention to climate change and global warming at Garnet Hill Lodge drew a group of more than120 people. The group gathered demand Congressional action regarding climate change and to send an S.O.S to Congress: Save Our Snow! Banners and signs stated clearly the Step It Up goal: Step It Up Congress! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050 , Congress! Stop Global Warming , Congress! Start Global Cooling!. One protest sign drove the point home for elected leaders: I Love Clean Energy and I vote! The rally was one of more than 1400 similar actions, called StepItUp2007, that occurred across the country in all 50 States, attracting thousands of like-minded Americans. The message, from which this National Day of Climate Action derives its name, is that Congress is not doing enough to address the looming environmental disaster caused by burning fossil fuels for energy and so causing Carbon (CO2) emissions. Participants believe Congress must Step It Up in response. I was very pleased that so many people, a very good showing for this rural area, showed up today to tell our political leaders that they want serious action to lower green house gas emissions, local organizer Evelyn Greene of North Creek said. The turnout was nearly double what I was hoping for. Greene said that to effect change, more people need to get involved. Everyone needs to step up, and Step It Up, and be heard by our elected representatives so that they know they have the peoples backing to make the necessary changes to laws and regulations, she said. And every one of us has to See WARM, page 6 commit to doing our part in lowering our "carbon footprints. One of StepItUps principal organizers, climate crisis expert and author Bill McKibben, said the national response to StepItUp has, like the local experience at Garnet Hill, far exceeded his expectations and those of the other organizers. McKibben has a local connection to the Town of Johnsburg, where he owns a home and explores the wild mountains of the area. Attendees heard presentations and comments from 18 speakers. Town of Johnsburg Supervisor Bill Thomas read a resolution by the Johnsburg Town Board supporting the goals of the rally. The message of the day is aimed at Congress, and 20th NY Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand was represented by Lisa Manzi who told the gathering that Congresswoman Gillibrand shares their concern and is making energy issues a top priority. Congresswoman Gillibrand has cosponsored legislation to extend the Production Tax Credit for renewable energy, a measure that promotes the development of clean energy sources. Joe Fahy, a native of Ireland, who with his wife Mary, owns Garnet Hill Lodge, invoked some Gaelic Cead mile failte, Gaelic for 1,000 welcomes to greet the crowd that packed the main dining room. He spoke about what Ireland and other European countries are doing in the global effort to slow anthropomorphic (human caused) climate change. Fahy related his own efforts at Garnet Hill Lodge that have cut electricity use for lighting 93%, accomplished by switching to energy saving compact florescent bulbs and other simple methods. He showed slides of the Derrybrien wind energy project in Ireland that supplies enough energy for the needs of 46,000 Irish households and stops 170,000 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year. He told how Ireland and other countries in Europe are promoting organic agricultural techniques and bio-diesel. Policies are in place to ensure that biofuels represent 5.75 percent of Irelands transport fuel market by 2009. Others offered ways individuals may employ in their homes and daily lives to reduce their carbon footprint including the use of geothermal sources for home heating, solar water heating and other energy saving measures. Switching to hybrid vehicles, minimizing driving, using efficient driving techniques and attending to tire inflation and car maintenance are other methods to reduce CO2 and save money at the same time, experts said. Jim McAndrew, one of the events organizers and project manager for the Adirondack Wind Energy Park proposal suggested for the Barton Mines Industrial site on Gore Mountain, encouraged the audience to use the money they save to buy Green Electricity for their homes through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits. Doing so creates demand for renewable energy and helps bring more clean energy sources into being, McAndrew said. He announced that Adirondack Wind Partners had done just that to make the fossil fuel transportation people used to attend the days StepItUp action "carbon neutral". The certificate documenting the donation of the Green Energy, New Wind Energy purchased from Community Energy Inc., stated that the purchase offset the driving of 50 cars 56 miles each. The organizers, in announcements publicizing Garnet Hill StepItUp, asked those who would attend to car pool or arrive by other low CO2 producing methods. Some participants walked, biked from North Creek, and another hitch-hiked from Indian Lake. New York State now obliges all electricity users to receive a portion of their electricity from clean sources through the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The goal of the RPS is to develop new renewable electricity capacity in the amount of 3,000 Megawatts by 2013. But that, in land area proportion, is only about one-third what Germany has today, McAndrew said. If we are to take best advantage of the 10 year window many believe remains to effectively moderate climate change, we must do much more, much more quickly, he said. John Sullivan spoke about sustainable forestry, its climate benefits, and the possibility of joining the FSC certified program that the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks administers. John Davis, Conservation Director for the Adirondack Council, discussed the importance of creating and maintaining wildlife corridors. These may be needed as escape routes to colder northern regions by animal life that cant tolerate warmer temperatures as the Adirondacks warm. Another presenter focused on biodiversity that may be lost in the Adirondack Park. Author Nancy Slack showed slides of high altitude microclimates on Adirondack Mountain tops and the plant and animal species that depend on them. Alan Belensz, an environmental scientist with the New York State Attorney Generals office, wrapped up the afternoon of presentations, preceded by a vegetarian buffet. His message was about warming, but Allens presentation focused on the consequences of global warming: impacts on the worlds fresh water supply, sea level rise that will inundate coastal regions and some entire countries. Belensz explained the wedges concept on a graph projecting atmospheric CO2 concentrations into the future. Each wedge represented actions that could change the direction of the trend line from sharply upwards toward a downward trend and a return to stable safe levels. Everything must be on the table, he said. Each contribution: more fuel efficient vehicles, energy conservation and better efficiency, rapidly expanded use of wind power and solar energy, nuclear generating plants, biofuels and other strategies, are components of a solution. Unless sufficient measures are taken, he said, by the end of this century New York States climate will resemble that of present day Alabama. Political will and leadership and energy policies that implement the solutions are needed, he said. White Water Challengers, a North River rafting outfitter three miles from the Lodge, also sponsored a StepItUp rally. Cutline StepItUp1: Participants in the Garnet Hill Lodge StepItUp 2007 Rally pose in a show of support to urge Congress to act to stem global warming. Cutline StepItUp.Whitewater: Participants in the White Water Challengers StepItUp 2007 Rally lend their support to draw attention to the need for action to counter global warming

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