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Activist 'Hopeful' State Lawmakers Will Act On Climate Change In Upcoming Session

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Abigail Beckman
/
KMUW
Craig Wolfe, right, speaks to attendees at the Al Gore Climate Reality Project at Wichita State University on Tuesday.

A representative from the Kansas Sierra Club says he's hoping climate change will be a bigger priority in the upcoming legislative session. 

Craig Wolfe, also of the Al Gore Climate Reality Project, spoke to students at Wichita State University Tuesday about climate change. 

He said that the most obvious signs of a climate crisis in the United States can be seen in the northeast part of the country, where there has been an increase in heavy downpours of rain. He said single instances of extreme weather events don't signal a climate emergency, but the evidence is clear when multiple worldwide occurrences are looked at all together.

Other evidence Wolfe cited includes longer, deeper droughts and rising temperatures. According to data from NASA, 2015 was the warmest year since modern record-keeping began in 1880, and 2016 is slated to be even hotter.

Wolfe said evidence of climate change in Kansas can and will be seen in increasing temperatures and the success of certain crops over others.

But in Kansas, the climate crisis "isn't a legislative priority," Wolfe said, but he's hopeful that will change. 

"There has been a shift to a more moderate Legislature, especially in the House," Wolfe said. "And time will tell whether it's enough to do the things in Kansas that can be done with the climate crisis, like the clean power plan from the Obama administration."

Wolfe said that's something he knows will be tough in a historically red state with a Republican-dominated Legislature.

"They don't care about it, so it's not on their radar," he said, referencing many state lawmakers.

If there is legislative momentum to address climate change at the state level in 2017, Wolfe said he fears it will likely be sidelined by groups who are heavily invested in fossil fuels, like the Koch brothers.

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Follow Abigail Beckman on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

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