By Briana Byrd
Iowa City, Iowa (November 13, 2007)- Addressing a crowd of approximately 125, Des Moines Mayor and environmental activist Frank Cownie stressed that local governments can fight global warming. The mayor has supported and facilitated numerous green initiatives in Des Moines, including a tree-planting program. Within 10 years, the mayor hopes that 100,000 trees can be planted through the city’s NeighborWoods program.
The lecture was part of a UI series that discusses global issues and the U.S. impact on the world. Cownie, who has worked to make Des Moines a green city, has spoken throughout the state about his efforts to reduce carbon emissions and fight what he calls “a worldwide problem.” Currently, the Des Moines police are using hybrid detective cars called “Green Fleets.” The city is also looking into purchasing electric cars, and it has switched from incandescent bulbs to light-emitting diodes in its traffic lights. The NeighborWoods program in Des Moines is also an integral part of the green initiative.
The lecture drew students as well as residents from other parts of the state. “I came because I’m interested in the future of our nation and the world,” Cedar Rapids resident Russ Proffitt said. “I feel the need to be better informed about specific interests we need to address in the coming election.” The lecture also offered tips to help individuals conserve energy, such as using energy-efficient bulbs, buying hybrid cars, or walking. “Today, I realized that you aren’t helpless,” UI senior Jensina Endresen said. “You can make a difference. It makes you feel optimistic that things can be done and that, even in our state, there are progressive measures being taken against global warming.”
Cownie responded to critics who have said global warming is not taking place and that climate changes are periodical by noting the costly amount of money needed to repair New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He stressed the importance of being proactive, instead of paying a much greater price after an incident has occurred. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cyclical change or a change we’ve induced, he said.
Along with 750 cities and communities, Iowa City has signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement addresses climate disruption; it was designed to push for more action against global warming at the local, state, and federal levels.
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