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Arctic Explorer Steger Treks through MN to Talk Climate Change

December 7, 2011

PRINCETON, Minn. – The state’s own eyewitness to the impacts of climate change is making a trek to northern Minnesota this week to share his stories.

Arctic explorer Will Steger is to speak tonight in Princeton and Thursday in Grand Rapids, and says there's o 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."

Despite what he's witnessed, Steger believes there are ways to reverse the trends and says he's 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 the public forums will be J Drake Hamilton, science policy director at 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. The result will be that we'll have multiple health benefits. We'll be saving lives, and we'll be modernizing the whole electricity system for the state."

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

"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."

Steger says he has put his exploring on hold for now to focus on educating the public about climate change. His next trek will be a 2,000-mile journey across the Canadian Arctic by dogsled, but he says that's still a few years off.

More details on the forums are online at fresh-energy.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN