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Iowa Climate Change Briefing and Discussion Today

February 16, 2009

Des Moines, IA – Iowans will have an opportunity tonight to learn more from top experts about climate change and the impact it's having on the state when the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council convenes for a public briefing and discussion.

Council chair Jerry Schnoor, who is also co-director of the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, says the briefing is an opportunity for Iowans to hear a wide range of professionals discuss the impact climate change is having on the state and the options under study to lower greenhouse gas emissions while spurring its economy. He says those emissions are many and varied and can stay in the environment a long time.

"Agriculture is a big source of emissions and also a big opportunity in Iowa. It's 23 percent of our total emissions. Coal-fired power plants are another big source, almost 40 percent of our total greenhouse gases in Iowa. Certainly our transportation, our own vehicles, trucks and buses and so forth, amount to almost another quarter of our emissions."

Schnoor says a colder than normal winter in the Midwest shouldn't lull people into a sense that climate change isn't happening. He notes that, although most of the planet has experienced a 1.4 degree Fahrenheit increase, the temperature is going up much faster in the Arctic.

"To the average person that might get lost. But, if you look at temperatures in the Arctic there's a phenomenon going on there that we think we understand. As the ice begins to melt, light reflects from a dark sea instead of a reflective white surface. So, they're getting a lot bigger temperature increases there, three or four degrees Fahrenheit change there already, instead of 1.4."

Schnoor says the council is looking at options to reduce greenhouse gases by from 11 to 20 percent by 2020, and more beyond that date. He says other energy alternatives are available using wind, solar and bio-fuels to help the environment while generating new jobs.

Tonight's meeting at the Iowa Historical Society building begins at 6 P.M.

The Climate Change Advisory Council was formed by the state legislature to study the impact of climate change and to research options to reduce greenhouse emissions.

David Law/Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA