Hansville heats up with climate change discussion

HANSVILLE — The big discussion on global climate change came to a small corner of the Kitsap Peninsula Nov. 14.

Adelia Ritchie led the Tuesday Talk at the Greater Hansville Community Center, titled “Climate Change in Puget Sound.” The event placed at center stage current issues surrounding global warming, alternative energy, carbon sequestration and what local residents can do to counteract climate change.

Ritchie has a doctorate in physical organic chemistry and volunteers as a climate reality leader with the Climate Reality Project. Founded by former vice president Al Gore, the Climate Reality Project seeks to “catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society.”

Climate reality leaders are trained for several days on how to lead discussions about climate change and encouraged to start dialogue within communities about what residents can do to counteract global warming, and what sorts of things are at stake.

Hansville, Ritchie said, should be especially concerned with global climate trends considering the rural area’s close ties to the surrounding natural environment.

“We are in the environment, we cannot avoid it,” she said. “We live it, eat it, breathe it, drink it.”

Aside from the area’s close ties to the environment, Ritchie also has another reason for hosting her first talk in Hansville.

“I live here and care about my immediate environment and all the people who live in it,” Ritchie explained. “I want them to know what I know and see what I see. Maybe they might want to join the movement or select a few things that they can personally do themselves.”

Ritchie’s recommended reading includes Paul Hawken’s book “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” In the book, Hawken outlines a list of 100 things that people need to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. People can do small things too, Ritchie said, like eating a plant-based diet, composting and employing alternative energy methods where possible.

But what about those who would argue that humans are not the culprit behind climate change? When it comes to those sorts of folks — some of whom Ritchie admits are her close friends — she would prefer to avoid discussing the matter with them at all.

“Climate change isn’t political, you just open your eyes and look at what’s happening, anyone can see it.”

Even though she prefers not to waste her time on the deniers, Ritchie says she still hopes to win them over bit by bit.

“We’re hoping little by little, we’ll just open everybody’s brains,” she said. “As we get more hurricanes, and more floods and more fires, everything is documented and you can’t deny that,”

At the talk, during a question and answer portion, Ritchie was confronted with the possibility of a grim future, as a member of the audience asked about the possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect resulting from high concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere — the threshold of which has already been surpassed.

“I’m not going to leave this room depressed because of that number, because so many great minds are working on this now,” Ritchie said.

It wasn’t just a brave face that Ritchie was putting on for the audience; when asked if she thinks humans can undo climate change before we reach the point of no return, Ritchie answered with an emphatic “yes.”

“With all the pressure to deny it and to continue to burn coal; there is more pressure to have solar and wind and hydro and all those other renewable forms of energy,” Ritchie said. “The current trajectory is actually in the right direction, regardless of who’s in the White House. We are winning.”

— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter for Kitsap News Grpup. Contact him at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com.