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Local group demonstrates to raise awareness about climate change

  • About 30 local people picked up signs and took to the streets Friday afternoon at a climate change awareness demonstration at Central Park in Charles City. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • About 30 local people picked up signs and took to the streets Friday afternoon at a climate change awareness demonstration at Central Park in Charles City. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • About 30 local people picked up signs and took to the streets Friday afternoon at a climate change awareness demonstration at Central Park in Charles City. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

What they lacked in numbers, they made up for in enthusiasm.

About 30 local people picked up signs and took to the streets Friday afternoon at a climate change awareness demonstration at Central Park in Charles City.

“I’d like to see more people here, but at least we got something,“ said Bruce Bergland, a retired science teacher who attended the event. “Maybe some people will see this here today and think about becoming more involved.”

The rally was in support of what is known as the Youth Climate Strike, an international movement of school students who take time off from class to participate in demonstrations to demand action to prevent further global warming and global climate change.

Barbara Thomsen said the idea for the demonstration — which lasted about 45 minutes — sprung from some discussion among a handful of women one morning at a local coffee shop.

“A bunch of us ladies were sitting down at Aroma’s talking about it, and we thought we should do something in Charles City,” she said.

Don Hofstrand, one of the leaders of Citizen Climate Advocates of North Central Iowa, said he learned about the event from that same bunch at Aroma’s, and decided to attend the demonstration and see if he could sign people up for his organization.

The organization’s general purpose is to address ways of solving climate change. It is part of an international group called Citizens Climate Lobby, which has 500 chapters worldwide, 400 in the United States and eight in Iowa. Current local membership is 400.

“I spent a lot of time over the years studying this issue, and keeping up to date on what’s happening,” Hofstrand said. “The science on this issue is blossoming. We learn more every day, and it all just reinforces what we already knew.”

Citizens Climate Lobby is very narrowly focused on getting passage of a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Hofstrand said the idea is to tax fossil fuels and make it more competitive for non-carbon energy sources to compete in the market. He mentioned wind, solar, nuclear and clean-burning fossil fuels, where carbon is captured and removed before it reaches the atmosphere.

“There are a variety of ways to be involved in this, and we’re not picking winners and losers,” he said. “The marketplace will sort that out.”

Hofstrand said it was a free-market way to address the issue that wasn’t government-intrusive. He added that although he believes the science of climate change is undeniable, he still respects those who might reject the concept.

“We respect people who disagree with us, because they’re entitled to their opinion, but we’re also entitled to ours,“ Hofstrand said. “It starts with education.”

As a retired science teacher, Bergland said he’s been an advocate of stopping climate change for years.

“I’ve been interested in the environment at least since the 1970s,” he said. “Back then it was overpopulation and pollution we were worried about. Now it’s climate change.”

Bergland said he is a firm believer in global climate change and the fact that modern industry is at least partially responsible for it.

“I can read the science and I can interpret it,” he said. “Clearly there is a direct correlation between what we’re doing to the environment with carbon emissions and the temperature of the earth.”

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