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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bemidji workshop a step toward tackling climate change

As a minister, I served churches all around the country and with every move I was told how the weather was changing. In some places, it was considerably dryer, other places were seeing unprecedented rain and flooding. In all cases it was warmer than it had been in the memory of all the longtime residents.

Since I moved to Bemidji last year, I have been hearing and witnessing a similar story from many longtime residents. The evidence is not merely circumstantial, rigidly controlled data collection confirms what people are experiencing. Citing this data, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stated our "climate already is changing rapidly and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Temperatures are increasing—especially in winter—and larger, more frequent extreme precipitation events are occurring."

It was easy 30 years ago to ignore the warnings of climate destabilization. After all, when climate scientists predicted the melting of polar ice and permafrost, it was far away and in the future. When they predicted chaotic weather patterns, including stronger hurricanes and increased tornado activity, we resisted all attempts to change our old habits. Now these predictions are the facts of everyday life and we need look no further than this newspaper to see that for ourselves. We have lost the luxury of doing nothing.

Because transportation is a major contributor to climate chaos, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and other state agencies are holding workshops around the state called Pathways to Decarbonizing Transportation. We are fortunate to have one of the workshops coming to us here in Bemidji on Wednesday, June 5. There will be two opportunities to attend, 2:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. in the Crying Wolf Room at BSU's Hobson Memorial Union. Each two-hour meeting will provide background on current projects and provide opportunities for us to share our thoughts on how we might reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in Minnesota.

It isn't often that state officials seek our input, especially about matters as important as this. We are being given a rare and wonderful opportunity to show our state government that we are serious about tackling the climate crisis and will support their efforts to create a clean and equitable solution to our transportation problems.