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Northfield hosts presentation on combatting climate change Friday

NORTHFIELD — In response to a bleak presentation on climate change in December, the town library will host a presentation by former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

“Many people were shocked and even dismayed by (biologist Guy McPherson’s) dire predictions concerning the rapid pace of global warming,” said Jennifer Tufts, president of the Greater Northfield Watershed Association.

McPherson’s presentation told the crowd at Dickinson Memorial Library that it’s too late to stop or reverse the effects of global warming. He went as far as to say that the human race would likely cause its own extinction by the year 2030.

“It was very irresponsible of him to say that,” said Sarah Bacon, who will give Friday’s presentation. “A lot can change in a relatively short time with the proper (environmental) regulations and initiatives. But scaring people paralyzes them.”

Bacon, like Gore, believes we still have a chance to save ourselves, and that the reality of climate change lies somewhere between McPherson’s doomsday predictions and those who deny climate change altogether.

“It’s sobering material, but there are solutions,” she said. “We have the technology to capture carbon, we have renewable clean-energy technology, we just need to scale it up.”

Bacon, a climate leader trained by Gore, will present some of the latest data on climate change, illustrated by an updated version of the slide-show used in Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” It also draws on Gore’s new book, “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis” and other sources.

Bacon has given five presentations to crowds of 20 to 30 people, and tailors each one to suit its audience.

“Northfield is pretty sophisticated in its commitment to sustainability, and being a transition town, it’s pretty far down the road in understanding that we need a culture change,” said Bacon.

So, she’ll skip the basics, and get into the meat of the discussion: what can be done to curb climate change.

The discussion on climate change is ever-evolving, with new studies and data constantly being published. Project Climate Reality researchers and directors keep abreast of the latest, and update an online data collection regularly to keep climate change presenters up to date.

Bacon updated her presentation Wednesday on the train home to New York City from Washington, D.C.

In addition to the effects of climate change, Bacon will give hope for the future as she addresses developments in the renewable energy field, strategies for greening communities, and discuss ways communities can build “climate resiliency,” organizers said.

Tufts hopes Friday’s presentation, and the solutions it contains, will make people feel less helpless.

Those with the Climate Reality Project insist that we can pull out of the tailspin of climate change.

“Sarah (Bacon) believes that, with an educated public, and drawing on our capacity for technological innovation, we can reverse the trend (of climate change),” said Tufts.

Bacon holds a master’s degree in sustainability management, has experience including a sustainability assessment of a New York City school built in 1924, and hosted an online environmental radio show called “Now or Never.”

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Friday in the meeting room of Dickinson Memorial Library. All are invited to attend the free program, sponsored by the Greater Northfield Watershed Association and Transition Towns Northfield.

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