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Local environmental group discusses building climate movement

Updated: September 12, 2013 6:25AM

VALPARAISO — Local environmentalists gathered at Figure Eight Brewing last week to discuss climate change and ways they can stimulate discussion about it.

Hosted by the Green Drinks social group, people from various backgrounds gathered Wednesday to talk about shifting the discussion on climate change in Indiana. Green Drinks organizer Kathy Sipple said the discussion was stimulated by a speech by President Barack Obama earlier this summer.

Local advocates spoke passionately regarding the need to engage others regarding the threat. A Pew Research Center study in March showed that 69 percent of Americans believe there is evidence of global warming, but 42 percent believe the changes are from man-made causes.

“Anybody concerned about the future should be concerned about global warming,” said Walt Breitinger of Valparaiso. “I’m afraid that they’re not able to recognize basic junior high and high school science.”

Kate Flannery of Valparaiso added that to effect any change in the political system, people have to become engaged advocates.

“Advocacy has a role now,” Flannery said. “That’s our job. We need to contact our representatives regularly to tell them this is an issue we care about.”

Tom Conway of BlueGreen Alliance added that it’s important to help others understand that a movement doesn’t have to alienate any particular group, but has to focus on educating and staying on message to get politicians to change their view.

“We have a huge task before us,” Conway said, “But it’s going to take a movement to get it done.

“Don’t hold your breath waiting for Congress to act.”

Andy Vasquez, a farmer from Kouts, said that it’s important not to focus on political parties.

“It doesn’t matter what party you’re from,” Vasquez said. “What matters is to focus on the direction of the country. We’ve got to work together instead of attacking each other.”

Ryan Strode, president of Save the Dunes, added that sometimes the message needs to connect to individuals, whether you change the discussion to health or economics to get on the same page.

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