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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Arctic Explorer Steger Treks to Warn about Climate Change

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Arctic explorer Will Steger is parking his dogsled to speak out across the country about the threat of climate change - and he says there's no mistaking what he's seen on his many journeys:

"In the polar regions the ice is starting to melt, and we're seeing the ice shelves in Antarctica and the higher arctic disappearing. At the same time, we're starting to see weather extremes all around, not only the United States, but all around the rest of the world right now."

Another of Steger's climate-related concerns has been the decline of the coral reefs off the Florida Keys. Despite what he's witnessed, however, he believes there are ways to reverse the trends and says he is hopeful about the future.

"There are solutions to the climate change, and the solutions are economical. It's changing our economy into a clean energy economy - new fuels and lessening our demand on energy, in particular - which means the saving of money, not only at homes, but in businesses. So, the solutions are definitely economical."

Joining Steger at some of his public forums is J Drake Hamilton, science policy director for the group Fresh Energy, who says those solutions include job creation through modernizing coal-fired power plants.

"Everyone from pipefitters and welders, who'll be putting pollution control equipment on these plants, to engineers and electricians - so, all kinds of skill sets will be needed."

In addition to job creation, says Hamilton, reducing pollution from coal plants will have a positive health impact.

"Coal is the number one source of the climate pollution, and it's a number one source of a number of respiratory illnesses. So, when we talk about improvements that get us cleaner air, we're also really directly talking about improving people's lives."

To focus on educating the public about climate change, Steger says his next trek will be a 2,000-mile journey across the Canadian Arctic by dogsled, but that's still a few years off. 

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