Hudson Valley climate-change conference pulls no punches

NEW PALTZ — First order of business: The environmentalists were right. Global warming isn’t coming to the Hudson Valley. It’s here.

Temperatures are up. Snowfall is down. The river is rising and wildlife is relocating.

Next on the agenda: Quit acting like environmentalists and go mainstream.


In a forum stacked with career “greenies” Friday, guest speakers goaded the crowd to make adapting to climate change everyone’s issue.

Last year, only 4 percent of all charitable giving in America went to environmental concerns, said David VanLuven of the Nature Conservancy.

To make the green movement work, he said, it has to become a “social and economic issue,” one that taps into transportation, homeland security and Wall Street dollars.

The Nature Conservancy is running a collaborative new project called “Rising Waters.” The Hudson Valley program recruits professionals from the insurance, financial, housing and agriculture markets — more than 43 sectors — to talk “selfishly” about how climate change will affect their livelihoods.

The climate-change conference at the Mohonk Mountain House, which focused on the Hudson Valley, drew about 150 people.

In 100 years, experts say the Empire State’s climate will resemble that of Virginia, at best; Georgia, at worst.

Average winter temperatures in New York are up nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit, said Dr. Stephen Breyman of the state’s Office of Climate Change.

“It’s hard not to despair,” he said. “We can cry in our beer, or we can have fun while adapting to climate change.”

Make it political. Make it egotistical. Make it about “destroying the Joneses,” he said. “Think in terms of competition — this wholly American means by which we entertain ourselves.”


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