Town, Rotarys, school to take part in global warming event

April 09, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - When the town of Shepherdstown talks about rolling back greenhouse gases to calm the effects of global warming, Lance Dom acknowledges that it's only a small piece of the puzzle.

"When Chicago does (it), it's real," said Dom, the mayor of Shepherdstown.

But Shepherdstown's work on global warming goes further than reducing the use of paper at town hall or maybe purchasing a more fuel-efficient police car.

Shepherdstown officials hope they are paving the way for other governments to become more environmentally conscious and are collaborating with environmental studies students at Shepherd University to get there.

The two groups are working on research together to determine how governments can help reduce energy consumption and they are hoping the work can become a model for other governments.


Those issues and others are expected to be examined when the Shepherdstown and Martinsburg Rotary clubs sponsor two discussions on climate change in the Shepherdstown area April 24 and 25.

The event, International and U.S. Perspectives on Global Climate Change "Thinking Globally and Acting Locally," is designed to spark discussion among area residents, community leaders and students about the implications of climate change, according to organizers.

The event will include a panel discussion on April 24 at Shepherd University's Frank Center and a daylong event on April 25 for area high school students, organizers say.

Lois Turco, chairwoman of the international service committee of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club, said it is interesting how the global warming issue is being examined in Shepherdstown.

Shepherd University formed an Institute for Environmental Studies where Shepherd students can major in environmental science, Turco said.

As part of their studies, the students have been working with town officials on Shepherdstown's efforts to reduce energy use and related issues, Dom said.

When the town becomes interested in a particular subject related to global warming or other green issues, the environmental studies students do research or compile statistics to help the town council's Environmental Sustainability Committee reach decisions, Dom said.

"Shepherdstown has really become a laboratory for this institute, which is kind of interesting," Turco said.

Shepherdstown officials have gradually been changing the town's buying habits to reduce energy consumption and thus reducing the amount of greenhouse gases contributing to global warming, Dom said.

To cut down on paper use, town employees use both sides of office paper and recycled paper, Dom said. Town officials have been examining ways to purchase more fuel efficient cars for the Shepherdstown Police Department and are studying the use of "dark sky lights" for the downtown area, Dom said.

The lights generate less light pollution and cut down on energy use, the mayor said.

Shepherdstown was the first town to endorse a U.S. Mayor's Agreement on Climate Changel, and Dom said he hopes Shepherdstown's work on energy reduction can set the standard for other governments in the state.

"It eventually puts pressure on Charleston," Dom said.

The April 24 panel discussion will be from 7 to 9 p.m. and will feature a panel discussion by three experts, including a representative from the Embassy of the Netherlands, a country that has been active in global warming reduction, Turco said.

Other panelists will be John Topping, president of the Climate Institute in Washington, D.C., and Joseph Hankins, vice president of the Conservation Fund and director of the Shepherdstown-based Freshwater Institute.

The April 25 seminar on global warming for high school students will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the National Conservation Training Center and will include presentations by the three speakers at the previous night's panel discussion, organizers say.

Participating students will be transported to and from the training center by their schools, and about 200 youths are expected to attend, organizers said.

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