Raging wildfires out west, record hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast. Both are indicators of climate change, scientists say. What about in Carver County?

There are signs here too.

High carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have disrupted seasonal rain patterns, preventing local farmers from planting crops in a timely manner. Flooding and windstorms wipe out crops before they can be harvested. Nutrient-loaded top soil gets washed into the lakes and streams, diminishing soil and water quality. Weather extremes are expected to increase too, jeopardizing not only farmers’ lives but urban dwellers as well through flooding and storm destruction, droughts which lead to fire, and rising insurance rates from damage.

That’s the view of a newly formed organization called Carver County 350, a local branch of the statewide climate justice organization Minnesota 350, which group leaders say is working toward a “fair and just transition to a clean energy economy.”

“This means putting the most vulnerable communities at the center of our work as we advocate for policies that will encourage clean energy adoption, clean transportation development and provide job opportunities and training for workers to build a healthy, viable climate for our families for generations to come,” said Evan Mathiason, Carver County 350 spokesperson.

The 350 in the groups’ names represents limiting carbon dioxide levels to no more than 350 parts per million, a threshold they say is critical to avoid irreversible impacts and sending climate change spinning truly out of control.

Carver County 350 is seeking to bring local awareness of high CO2 levels resulting from burning coal and oil, and the fracking of gas.

“We would like to see new jobs created by leaving behind outdated energy sources and establishing cleaner, more sustainable genesis energy such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydro energy,” Mathiason said.

The fledgling local group has been evolving for about a year, according to organizers, with a small but growing group of concerned citizens.

The group calls itself a non-partisan advocacy organization that believes “through legislative action and community involvement, we will be able to move the needle of environmental-repair work in the right direction.”

Carver County 350 recently held a climate change forum to engage candidates for state office in District 47 more intensely on climate issues. Similarly, the forum enabled listeners to hear from the candidates. Not all candidates participated, but you can listen to the ones who did on MN 350’s Facebook page.

Members say in the coming weeks the group will be focused mainly on making sure people concerned about climate change are getting out to vote.

Our own habits matter too, Carver County 350 reminds residents, including reducing use of plastics and controlling energy use.

“We would love to see everyone turn off lights and use LED bulbs, turn the thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter, walk or ride a bike to work, ride transit and buy electric cars,” Mathiason said. In other words, change energy usage to mitigate extreme climate conditions.

And yet, these small changes are not enough without policy change to encourage a large-scale transition to clean energy technology to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and spur economic growth, according to the climate advocacy group.

Climate change affects all of us, they say, and “we need people to come together to work for solutions that will benefit all people.”

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