As we’ve reported the Wasatch Back chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby hosted a panel discussion on climate change Wednesday evening. In addition to local politicians, local university professors and a leader of Citizens' Climate Lobby spoke.
In addition to Mayors of Midway, Heber and Park City, others on the panel weighed in on climate change. Among those weighing in was Dr. Christopher Oscarson. Dr. Oscarson is a professor of Comparative Arts and Letters at Brigham Young University he is also a member of LDS Earth Stewardship. Oscarson clarified that he does not speak for BYU or the LDS church, but he did explain some of the doctrinal basis for his work to fight climate change.
“The earth it is a gift,” Dr. Oscarson explained. “Like all gifts that come from God there are responsibilities that come with it. God is not going to keep us from abusing it, but it will be to our own condemnation, so to speak. That judgment, so to speak, comes not just in some distant afterlife, but now. If I take certain actions I might suffer, or my children might suffer, or my neighbor. Whether that neighbor is here or on the other side of the world. It's not going to be people in Utah who are going to suffer the most. I mean there will be consequences here too, but the people that suffer the most are the people in Bangladesh, right? The people in Mozambique, the people in these places that are already living so much on the edge. As Christians we have a responsibility to them as well.”
Dr. Logan Mitchell of the University of Utah’s department of Atmospheric Sciences noted that economics are also driving the demand for renewable energy.
“Renewable energy is now cost effective,” Dr. Mitchell continued. “It’s cheaper in many cases than existing coal plants. There was just a study done that came out six months ago that looked at coal plants across the United States. Half of them it's more expensive to keep operating that coal plant than it is to just wholesale just shut it down and install renewable energy in that same exact location. Coal is not getting any cheaper whereas renewable energy there’s continuing to be innovation. As these things get developed and come to market those costs are still coming down. So right now, renewable energies cost cheaper than coal and it’s cost competitive with gas. I expect that trend to continue.”
Park City resident and Rowland Hall Senior Mia Vinding has been involved with the Citizens' Climate Lobby since she was 14. Vinding advocates for the Carbon Dividend Act, a bipartisan bill that puts a fee on fossil fuels, with the fee collected being redistributed as a dividend to the American people.
Vinding recognizes the role of youthful energy in addressing climate change.
“I do think the youth movement in climate change have a lot to offer in terms of excitement,” Vinding said. “I think if you make the discussion about solutions and if you make the discussion about what individuals can do, then I think it gives people a lot more hope. It allows for more mobilization.”
An audience of around 100 people were in attendance at the Jim Santy Auditorium on Wednesday evening. The panel spoke and addressed audience questions for an hour and a half.