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Book sparks local climate change discussion

If left unchecked, the steady increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide would cause the climate of the Adirondack region to resemble those found further south along the Appalachian chain. In the long term, conditions would become much like the Gulf coast of the Florida Panhandle, threatening every recognizable part of the current ecosystem and way of life.

"In the long run, it's everything," said Jenkins. "In the short run, it's winter sports and the boreal communities. The winter economy of the winter tourist season is very threatened right now."

Just like in his book, Jenkins spent a good deal of time discussing ways to counteract the acceleration of climate change through reduced energy use.

The first step, he said, is being aware of how much energy a household needs and how much it uses. From there, families can find ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

"A great deal of our energy and carbon use is just in the stuff we buy," he explained, noting how the pollution produced by the production of household goods ultimately accounts for roughly a third of every household's carbon footprint. Home heating is a close second at about 14 percent. Comparatively, electricity represents only about three percent of an average household's carbon footprint.

A big first step, Jenkins said, is to be conscious about the things we buy and to focus on easy ways to prevent homes from wasting heat.

Jenkins said he wrote the book in its local context because it's the best way he knows to affect change.

"Local is what can be done tomorrow and today," he said, stressing the global problem has to be solved first at the local level.

A question and answer session following Jenkins' presentation drew several comments from audience members about how they could encourage energy efficiency within their families and communities.

"I think the reality with a lot of people here is that they want to consider how much energy they use and try to get a number so they can make a positive impact," said Maron.

"I don't think the book is going to have that much impact," said Jenkins. "It's people that have the impact. If the book is one of the tools they use, I'll be happy."

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