In the climate crisis, hope can be found locally News, sports, jobs

Justin Shannon, then a student at Paul Smith College, unloads a bag of lime into Lake Benz amid snow, wind and freezing temperatures in February 2020. Shannon was on site with a group of classmates. Limestone ponding is an ancient practice meant to reverse the effects of years of acid rain. It has become less common in recent years, because acid rain is no longer as harmful as it once was. (Foundation file photo – Aaron Marboni)

Climate change is scary. It’s easy to get discouraged when you look at the headlines and see extreme weather events around the world. Ice storms in Texas. Forest fires in Canada. Heat waves in the Mediterranean. Even here in the Adirondacks we are seeing climate problems.

Not long ago, floods destroyed roads and bridges in Long Lake. In addition, Dr. Curt Steger, a climate scientist at Paul Smith College, predicts that we have lost nearly a month of the usual winter season as temperatures rise.

It’s natural to feel climate anxiety about things like this, but it’s important to still have hope. Fortunately for us, the Adirondack Mountains are a place with a history of climate success, something not many places can say. Less than 50 years ago, acid rain was a major problem in the Adirondacks. Acid rain is caused by fossil fuel emissions and has harmful effects on trees, soil and entire watersheds. People realized there were fewer fish, trees were dying, and submarines were disappearing from our lakes, so they decided to do something about it. Regulations were put in place to reduce pollutants affecting our soils and watersheds, and now not only is acid rain gone, its effects are gradually fading, and the Department of Environmental Conservation reports that our waterways and their residents are healthy again.

This story gives me hope, but the people who worked on this problem didn’t just hope things would go well. They have taken action. Taking action and finding climate solutions is the next step.

It’s great to turn off the lights when you’re not using them, but take it a step further. Upstate residents can contact Clean Energy to find out if their property is compatible with a renewable energy system. Plus you can make simple purchases to help, like switching to more energy-efficient light bulbs, or you can switch your home’s electricity provider to Saranac Lake’s Northern Power and Light, which provides clean, renewable hydroelectric power at a cost equal to what would otherwise be Push it to a different, less renewable energy provider.

Composting at home is important, but see what you can do next. Find out if your city has a composting system or local transportation facility, such as Blue Line Composting. You can always encourage others to compost too.

Definitely only buy eco-friendly items at the grocery store, but also grow what you can at home and shop at local farmers markets. Did you know that after summer is over, the Saranac Lake Farmers Market moves to the Saranac Hotel, providing locally grown produce to our community through the end of December?

Things to post about global warming on social media. Better yet, show up at climate marches and support companies and individuals doing climate action, like the annual Youth Climate Summit, taking place November 8-9 at the Wild Center. Human-caused climate changes will not stop immediately. But it’s important that we do everything we can to keep our home healthy and sustainable. Don’t wait for the next generation to do everything, either. It is important that we all work towards a greener and brighter future.

To young people like me who are concerned about climate change but don’t know how to act: You don’t have to wait until you’re older to do something. Join an environmental club at school, or start one if your school doesn’t already have one. Talk to your local leaders about climate justice and its impacts. Gather your friends and plan a youth climate summit to talk about these issues with other teens who want to make a difference just like you. Get the kind of friends who will coordinate the trash cleanup with you and have fun doing it.

And for the adults reading this: I’m 16 years old. It will be years until my colleagues and I can vote. From my generation and generations to come, please vote for people who believe in climate change and are working to implement a plan to create positive environmental change, both locally and nationally. Listen to people who know climate change is real and who are making it a priority. We count on you too.

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Jenna Odlin is a student at Saranac Lake High School. She composed “Adirondack exploration more challenging” An activity book for children and their families as they explore the Triple Lakes. She is passionate about protecting the environment and is a proud part of the Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program.

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