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Across The Spectrum, Nevadans Working To Stop Climate Change

Associated Press
Associated Press

Thirteen years after “An Inconvenient Truth," former Vice President Al Gore is still at it, spreading the word of climate change.  


These days, he’s working on The Climate Reality Project, which mobilizes local leaders to attack climate change in their communities.  


With Reno and Las Vegas considered two of the fastest-warming cities in the country, climate change is a reality facing most of Nevada every day. 

Four Nevadans attended Al Gore’s summit recently in Minnesota. 

One of those who attended was Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones. Jones has been interested in environmental issues for many years, but now that he is on the commission, he wants to help the county lead on the issue of addressing climate change.

“We’ve seen cities of Las Vegas, Henderson, even North Las Vegas, really take some real leadership on the issue of sustainability and addressing climate change. I think it is time for the county to join with them and really approach this from a regional level,” he said.

One of the presentations Jones attended was done by the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He said they've had to deal with extreme flooding connected to climate change. 

In Nevada, the opposite is true. The state is seeing overall warming. .

“I think that there are things that we can do when it comes to changing the way we do street design, changing the way we do road design, that could potentially mitigate the heat effects were going to face," Jones said.

Another attendee was attorney Shawn Harpen. Harpen became interested in the issue when her client, Patron Tequila, started an environmental action plan. Now that she is working on climate change full time, she plans on making sure people know they can do things on an individual level to help.

Harpen said electricity production and agriculture are two of the biggest industries responsible for greenhouse emissions. She said there are small, everyday things people can do to help.

“Don’t order as much if you’re not going to eat it," she suggested. "Reduce the use of single-use containers. We’ve become a society where we get almost everything by mail. Think of all those cartons that we get in the mail. Make sure that recycling is happening in your building, in your neighborhood.”

Philip Moore is taking up the cause in Northern Nevada. The city of Reno has created a Climate Action Plan, and he wants to get neighborhoods involved in that plan.

From recycling to improving water efficiency, Moore believes there are ample opportunities to get engaged.

Moore said the need to address climate change is getting more and more urgent.

"Over the past four decades, the length of our fire weather season has increased 20 days per decade. So, we are now 80 days longer in fire weather season, which enhances aspects of damage from wildfires but also air quality issues associated with them,” he said.

Jones believes people are starting to realize something needs to be done immediately.

“As we talk we are losing billions of tons of water in Greenland,” he said.

Jones himself was shocked by the climate report that came out last year that said the globe is perhaps 10 to 11 years away from a situation it can not recover from.

Besides taking individual steps to address the causes of climate change, Jones encourages people to call their lawmakers in support of efforts to address the problem.

Justin Jones, commissioner, Clark County Commission; Shawn Harpen, activist in Las Vegas; Philip Moore, activist in Reno

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.