That’s one of the most important takeaways from last week’s Kenai Climate Conference, which brought together scientists, politicians and members of the public to discuss the local impacts of climate change.
Among the presenters at the conference were a number of researchers who have been studying the effects of climate change here on the Kenai Peninsula, including changes in the water temperatures in salmon streams, changes in wildland fire patterns, erosion issues and changes in the peninsula’s flora and fauna.
With changes documented, Kenai Peninsula residents are now faced with two choices — mitigation or adaptation.
That’s where the research intersects with public policy, as local governments and residents will need to make changes to either reduce the potential effects, or adjust to changes in the environment.
Some of those policy changes already are being implemented. For example, state wildland fire crews are gearing up earlier than they have in the past.
Changes aren’t just environmental; communities should be aware that impacts could also affect the area’s economy or threaten infrastructure.
At the conference, Kenai Watershed Forum environmental specialist Branden Bornemann invited attendees to help author a strategic plan to present to borough and municipal governments.
A plan written by the community, for the community, with community solutions is a good idea.
Let’s act now to address issues while there are things we can accomplish at the local level, before decisions are taken out of our hands.