Think globally and act locally

Indiana mayors talk climate change prevention

Abbagail Speitel, Co-editor-in-chief

On September 13, 2017 a summit occurred where Indiana mayors, regardless of political affiliation gathered together to discuss how their cities can aid in the prevention of climate change. Not all mayors chose to attend but that didn’t stop some of the most influential officials to speak about what needs to be done statewide.

The Climate Leadership Summit was hosted by Earth Charter Indiana for the purpose of sharing details on what Indiana cities do and could potentially do to help stop the furthering of climate change. About 21 cities from Indiana including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington and Carmel, attended. Not only did Indiana mayors speak but representatives from cities, universities and foundations gave presentations on research and progress they have made toward climate control.

Earth Charter Indiana representative Jim Poyser began the summit with a speech about the importance of cities from Indiana coming together to discuss how we as individual cities could help prevent the advancement of climate change.

“Given the heartbreaking environmental disasters happening around the country

right now — wildfires, record-breaking heat, hurricanes — our Summit should provide a guide

for cities to start to prepare for similar extraordinary weather extremes,” Poyser said.

The day went on with multiple presentations and speeches about climate change in Indiana. The first to speak was Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. Hogsett spoke about climate resilience and how Indianapolis residents are fighting for the cause. Hogsett mentioned the 24-hour Climathon that occurred in 2016.

The Climathon gave many Indianapolis residents a chance to speak out and engage in the fight against climate change. Only 59 cities throughout the whole world participated in Climathon and Indianapolis was one of two cities in the United States to participate.

Hogsett also spoke on getting the community engaged in the prevention of climate change. He repeated the phrase, “think globally and act locally” to emphasize his point of getting local communities to do their bit in the large fight.

Hogsett wasn’t the only mayor to speak at the event. Fort Wayne mayor Tom Henry touched on some critical points on how his city has progressed greatly throughout the past couple years. Henry spoke about the combined sewer overflow problem Fort Wayne has experienced for the past 10 years. Their combined sewer overflow issue was caused by about 1 billion gallons of  raw sewage being discharged per year.

Now Fort Wayne is resolving the problem with a deep rock tunnel project that runs five miles under the city which will take the raw sewage to a filtration plant and that will lead to a reduction of discharge by 90 percent.

“Not only does it help us environmentally but it will create a lot of jobs for the next five to seven years,” Henry said. This isn’t the only initiative that Fort Wayne has started to aid in the further prevention of climate change. Fort Wayne has already begun a methane gas production as well.

“We take human waste and convert waste to power,” Henry said. “We are now able to power some of our buildings now that we use methane gas.” Henry continued in great detail about the smaller initiatives that Fort Wayne has begun to create an environmentally healthy community.

Many mayors, representatives and professors spoke about climate change regarding temperature, initiatives and much more but Kokomo mayor, Greg Goodnight spoke about tornadoes. Unlike all the other speeches Goodnight spoke about the recurring tornadoes that has happened multiple times in the past decade in Kokomo, Indiana.

Many can recall the viral photo of a Kokomo Starbucks destroyed due to seven tornadoes that occurred on a Wednesday in 2016. But that isn’t the only case in which Kokomo has experienced tragic damage due to tornadoes. In November of 2013 an EF-1 tornado at speeds of 111 to 135 mph left 30,000 residents of Kokomo without power.

Goodnight spoke on the increasing numbers of tornadoes Kokomo has experienced and how rising temperatures play a factor. Goodnight’s message was that not all natural disasters have taken place in foreign countries, many happen locally and are looked over greatly.

The Climate Leadership Summit also contained panels of people from all different professions who were well informed on Indiana’s climate status. The panels also allowed the audience to submit questions thru an app that Earth Charter Indiana had specifically created for the event.

The summit gave political representatives a chance to talk to their peers and discuss how Indiana can do more locally to help aid in the prevention of climate change advancement. As many know climate change is a controversial topic as of lately due, but mayors from Indiana urge other political officials to stop fighting the truth and take the right actions that our necessary for the Earth’s survival.