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Climate Change may benefit Michigan, as environmental leaders gather for action summit


Climate leaders from across the state gathered Thursday in downtown Grand Rapids for the 2019 Michigan Climate Action Summit to call for an end of Michigan’s reliance on fossil fuels, and to “overcome the climate deniers holding public office who are standing in the way” according to director Kate Madigan.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Jonathan Overpeck is the Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability and is a Nobel Prize winner for his work in climate science. He says while it comes at the great loss of other communities, over the course of the next century, Michigan stands to actually gain from warming temperatures.

“We have 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen water," Dr. Overpeck said. "In the future, this will be a huge asset.”

In order to be that huge asset, Dr. Overpeck said, Michigan must aggressively protect its natural resources, and embrace climate change as a non-debatable scientific fact.

Liesl Clark is the director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and gave the summit’s second keynote address. She spoke 24 hours after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to eliminate the DEQ and rebrand it as the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Appointed by Whitmer in January, Clark says she’s on board with the executive order.

“A couple of things that I think are really critical are the underlying water component and the energy component to what we do at the department to protect public health and the environment," Clark said. "Energy and water are such a critical part of that, and so the idea was build some efficiency by bringing these pieces together, and I am really excited about implementing it.”

Since taking office in January, Whitmer has made addressing climate change a priority. Earlier this month, the governor signed an order to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of governors who commit to upholding the principles of the Paris climate agreement.

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