A handful of Wyoming citizen-led groups are taking stock of risks and opportunities for adaptation in the face of a changing climate and encouraging local governments to embrace less carbon-intensive measures.
One such group, the nonpartisan Lander Climate Action Network, will host a “Wyoming Climate Summit” Saturday in Lander to help promote similar efforts across the state.
“We’re hoping to educate people around the state about projected climate change impacts on Wyoming and our region, and we’re hoping to inspire more community-level action to get more people to join this effort,” Lander resident and Wyoming Climate Summit co-organizer Ariel Greene said.
The Wyoming Climate Summit will take place from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Lander Community Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Panel discussions include “climate action and planning,” “energy transition” and “traditional ecological knowledge in climate adaptation and mitigation.” Another panel will address how young people in Wyoming can engage at the intersection of climate action and policy.
Why and how
The average annual temperature has increased about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit in Lander over the past 100 years, Greene said, and the number of summer days that reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above has gone from an annual average of 17 to 44. Throughout the state, spring runoff has come earlier in recent years, resulting in lower river flows earlier in the summer season, Greene said. Wildfire smoke also is impairing air quality in Wyoming and throughout the West, beginning earlier in the summer.
“Our view is that the best way to create change is to educate people more about the problem and to give it more prominence,” Greene said. “Even [in Wyoming], there’s a clear consensus that climate change is happening and that we should be doing something about it. But [people] don’t have a very clear sense of how we are going to affect our own lives in the near future.”
For its part, LCAN has begun collecting baseline emissions data related to local public services, such as cooling and heating systems and Lander’s wastewater treatment facility. The data will help inform possible energy efficiency measures that could both reduce the community’s carbon footprint and find cost savings. The appeal of such fiscal benefits cuts across the political spectrum in Wyoming, particularly in an era of budget cuts, Lander resident and community organizer Monika Leininger said.
Other citizen-led groups in Jackson and Laramie have encouraged local governments to invest in solar panels and to add more public transportation options.
“I think communities in Wyoming see the opportunity we have to create sustainable and vibrant communities,” Leininger said. “I hope this is an event for folks who are interested in the topic of climate and for folks who are curious or might feel at a loss of what they can do in their own communities.”