How Mid-Michigan can save green by going green

Earth Day interview with Dr Patrick Doran
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 11:53 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Climate change is usually talked about in terms of long term safety versus short term profit, but a nature conservationist in Lansing says you can save green by going green.

Climate change is an increasing concern for business owners, the military, outdoorsmen, poor people, rich people and anyone who has plans to live on the planet Earth for the forseeable future. It’s no longer hypothetical, but something that Michiganders are dealing with regularly.

“Everyone. Every person, no matter what they do, no matter where they live, is impacted by climate change. Whether you like skiing or snowmobiling, as the seasons change the snow is no longer particularly predictable,” said Dr. Patrick Doran. “If you’re a hockey player, if you like to play pond hockey in the winter, I don’t know where you’re going to be able to skate sometimes. There’s not reliable ice.”

Dr. Doran is Associate State Director for The Nature Conservancy Michigan, an environmental nonprofit with the goal of allowing both people and nature to thrive. He says we’re already dealing with the consequences of climate change.

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It’s a problem for practical reasons, and because nature is part of Michigan’s identity.

“Going back 15-20 years ago, there was a little bit of a Great Lakes presence and identity, but it’s so much more prominent now,” Dr. Doran said. “Stickers on cars, labels on beer, tattoos on people’s ankles... really the identity of all of the Great Lakes.”

As the world gets warmer, we’re seeing the first of the consequences brought on by climate change, such as what Michigan has most recently experienced.

“You see unprecidented flooding in urban areas,” Doran said. “Harmful algae blooms are increasing in duration, in frequency, in size, in impacts, parlty due to the warming of some of our Great Lakes.”

Dr. Doran says that, while climate change is a serious problem, shifting attitudes are a good sign.

“I get scared, on the one hand: This is it. The time is now. This is the decade to really focus,” Dr. Doran said. “The positive side of me sees the conversations around climate change are much more prevelant.”

Many of the techniques that ease pressure on the environment can do the same for bank accounts. Many of the things that humans engage that are harmful to nature are also expensive, with cheaper and often more effective alternatives readily available.

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For those who can invest upfront, solar panels can save energy costs long term by offsetting the cost of powering buildings. Similarly, cars with some ability to run on electric power save money on average per trip compared to cars that can only run on gasoline.

Even without the money to invest in green technology, there are cost saving steps that also help the environment.

He said, “Mowing a little less of your yard, raking instead of leaf blowing. Anything that is reducing your energy footprint is good for your pocket book, good for the natural world.”

Dr. Doran noted that working remotely saves both gasoline and wear on vehicles, while eating less meat can make groceries less expensive.

“It doesn’t mean no meat, it doesn’t mean meat is awful or terrible,” he said. “But our diet choices directly have an impact on energy inputs.”

Many are catching on to the opportunities presented by climate-saving meaures. Locally, green technology has become more visable.

“In Meridian County I can think of one of our churches that has installed solar. It saves them money and gives them something to talk about climate change. The township offices have solar outside of their office, Okemos High School has solar,” Dr. Doran said. “Three off the top of my head where solar is present in very visable places.”

He says they’re able to reap the benefits of that solar energy, saving money, but also using that visibillity to give people a chance to talk about renewable resources.

“Their energy bills are going down, but it’s also a conversation piece,” Dr. Doran said. “And that might be the most important thing.”

You can read more about Michigan’s efforts to combat climate change on The Nature Concervancy’s website.


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