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Climate activist shares “doing better” solutions for the climate crisis

Josie Gerritsen is a Media Writing I student who won the Aspiring Forum Journalist Prize for her work covering the Kim T. Adamson Lecture in International Studies.

“The human race is responding to climate change in extraordinary fashion,” according to climate activist Chris Turner.

Turner spoke Tuesday evening at the Kim T. Adamson Lecture in International Studies in the Vieve Gore Concert Hall Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory. 

“[Responding to the climate crisis] is one of the single greatest things we have ever tried to do as a species,” Turner said.

Climate activist Chris Turner speaks Tuesday evening at the Kim T. Adamson Lecture in International Studies in the Vieve Gore Concert Hall Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory. Turner recently published his book, “How to Be a Climate Optimist,” highlighting the last two decades’ progress on solutions to the climate change crisis, according to the event’s description. “I didn’t just want to talk about how bad things were and how much worse they could get,” Turner said. “I do think there are brightnesses to a better world in these climate solution tools.” Photo courtesy of Q Winter. Image description: A man with curly brown hair speaks animated with his hands open behind a podium, wearing a gray, collared-shirt and black jacket.

Turner is a Canadian author and journalist who focuses on climate solutions and the global energy transition, according to the event’s description on Westminster College campus calendar.

His most recently published book, “How to Be a Climate Optimist,” highlights the last two decades’ progress on solutions to the climate change crisis, according to the event’s description.

“I didn’t just want to talk about how bad things were and how much worse they could get,” Turner said. “I do think there are brightnesses to a better world in these climate solution tools.”

Turner said there is value in finding optimism in the generational problem of climate change. Understanding there are solutions to climate change is also pivotal, according to Turner.

Actions in response to climate change can also be considered as “doing less bad” or “doing better,” according to Turner.

Turner said using paper straws instead of plastic straws is “one of the world’s less bad sustainable solutions.”

A “doing better” solution is redesigning streets and other urban areas with people in mind, not cars, Turner said. Cities and towns need to be made more friendly and space needs to be reclaimed, according to Turner. 

This idea is known as creating walkable cities and is often linked to reducing emissions and retaining heat, according to Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute

Climate activist Chris Turner speaks Tuesday evening at the Kim T. Adamson Lecture in International Studies in the Vieve Gore Concert Hall Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory. Kimmy Petersen, a first-year undeclared major, said Turner’s lecture caused her to think about how she could partake in climate solutions. “I learned some new ways to take bigger steps towards the solution,” Petersen said. “Creating more walkable cities but in the way that you build more of a whole [community and] gives people the idea [change is] possible.” Photo courtesy of Q Winter. Image description: Audience members sit in a concert hall while a man stands behind a podium with a presentation screen on climate change in the background. The screen features news headlines, including “China’s Solar Boom Boosts Clean Energy Funding Near Record.”

Kimmy Petersen, an undeclared first-year student, said Turner’s lecture caused her to think about how she could partake in climate solutions.

“I learned some new ways to take bigger steps towards the solution,” Petersen said. “Creating more walkable cities but in the way that you build more of a whole [community and] gives people the idea [change is] possible.”

The ability to respond to climate change in meaningful ways is now easier than ever, according to Turner. 

Turner compared alternative initiatives for addressing climate change. A heat pump offers an energy-efficient alternative to furnaces and air conditioners for all climates, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and is simple, effective and efficient, according to Turner. 

“[The world’s] not gonna be a utopia,” Turner said. “Everything’s not gonna be perfect. But [the heat pump] is a very far cry from a straw that doesn’t work well.”

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