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Editorial: Let's warm up to tackling a global concern

Some of the world’s brightest scientific minds will gather Oct. 27-31 in Copenhagen to consider a synthesis report of major climate change studies.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has determined that it’s “extremely likely” that humans are “the dominant cause” of global warming. How likely? The probability is 95 to 100 percent.

Still, Denmark is far away. A warming planet doesn’t sound so bad on a crisp October morning when we know the cold Midwest winter is around the corner.

The panel is a United Nations-affiliated task force of 3,500 scientists from more than 120 nations. They’re the experts. Let them worry about modern man’s impact on the atmosphere. Let them convince the world’s leaders that globe warming is a threat that requires immediate action.

There’s not much anyone can do locally that will make much of a difference.

Four people will be at the Anderson Center this weekend to challenge that train of thought.

Will Steger, the great contemporary explorer, is the main attraction for “Climate Solutions for Red Wing and Beyond.” He spoke in Red Wing a decade ago or so ago to a packed audience and, sadly, some of what he warned has transpired — rising waters, increasing severe weather, changing bird and animal migration patterns and more.

Joining him will be J. Drake Hamilton, the science policy director at Fresh Energy; journalist and writer James Lenfestey, who has reported on climate science since 1988; and Julia Nerbonne, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of Interfaith Power and Light, a coalition of faith communities encouraging a religious response to global warming.

Scientific evidence strongly suggests that the main cause of increasing carbon dioxide levels is the burning of fossil fuels: coal, oil and natural gas. If we continue to consume resources at our current pace, global temperatures likely will increase by another 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit in our children’s lifetime.

We should be concerned. Addressing climate change means changing attitudes and behaviors in Red Wing — and, yes, beyond.