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NE climate change panel brings together multiple perspectives

The format of the event was forum-style mixed with crowd interaction.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 10:25 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Wednesday night in Lincoln a unique panel took on the topic of climate change. They say talking about it and getting in front of it before more happens is the goal.

The format of the event was forum-style mixed with crowd interaction. It’s aimed at encouraging more discussion about climate change in an environment that doesn’t create a debate, but instead a dialogue about how it’s impacting different facets of Nebraska.

Wednesday night brought together people from different professions in Nebraska, from the Farm Bureau to Nebraska Medicine, from public office holders to scientists.

“As we look at this as a challenge that’s going to be with us for a long time, how do we work together to make sure Nebraska stays a vibrant and great place to live,” said Chris Sommerich with Humanities Nebraska which put on the event called Weathering Uncertainty.

The discussion was moderated by Nebraska’s State Climatologist Marth Shulski, who said recent weather events like wildfires moving farther east and extreme heat have Nebraskans taking notice of climate change.

“We’ve had such wild weather and a phrase that I kind of like to use is ‘the earth is faster now,’” Shulski said. “These extremes are coming at us one after the other and sometimes from one side of the spectrum to another.”

UNMC researchers are actively studying how climate change can impact human health.

“Actually extreme heat events likely kill more people in the United States than any other climate-related disaster,” said Jesse Bell, the director of the Water, Climate, and Health Program at UNMC.

The panel also discussed climate change and agriculture; how farmers and ranchers are aware of changing impacts and adapting that in how they tend to land.

Political leaders said they have also learned from the historic flooding of 2019 about how preparedness can save time, money, and resources.

“Clean energy is one. Northeast Nebraska is a hotbed of wind energy development and increasingly more and more solar energy. Those things that help us to both reduce carbon put into the atmosphere but also create economic activity in our rural are very important,” said Josh Moenning, the Mayor of Norfolk.

The panel also turned its discussion to those in the audience with live surveys. It found their biggest concerns were extreme weather events followed by food security.

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