Starting Climate Change Conversations in Erie
Penn State Behrend's Public Policy Fund hosted a panel discussion on climate change Tuesday evening.
Panelists specialized in environmental studies related to different fields. They were from organizations including Pennsylvania Sea Grant, Erie County Department of Planning, Regional Science Consortium and Environment Erie.
Panelists discussed the effects of climate change that are being dealt with in the Erie area. Some of the effects covered included the following:
•The erosion of Presque Isle State Park due to the late-forming ice dunes. This results in more funds and resources being allocated to replace the eroded sand.
•The temperature of Lake Erie is rising, which causes many issues. Major areas of concern were over the effects of harmful algae blooms on swimming (tourism to the park) and safe drinking water.
•Flooding in neighborhoods has increased due to high-volume rains. Storm systems are increasingly dumping inches of rain in a short period of time rather than over a prolonged period, which backs up the storm drains and leaves little time for the ground to soak up the water.
Panelists noted Erie is in a naturally mild environment where few catastrophic weather events happen. However, they said it's important for everyone to take steps at living more sustainably in order to lessen the effects of climate change in the long-run. Honey Stempka, the executive director of Environment Erie, noted while it might seem hopeless for one person to make a difference, the difference is made when many people collectively move to be more sustainable.