COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Come for the cocktails, stay to talk climate change.
Joining pizza and drinks on the menu at Mikey’s Late Night Slice on North High Street Wednesday night was a robust conversation on climate change, hosted by the Columbus chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby in Mikey’s speakeasy-style basement tiki bar.
CCL has been around for about seven or eight years, co-leader Donny Murray said, but Wednesday’s get together was the fourth monthly ‘Ales and Climate Tales’ event.
The casual meetings, which attract environmentally minded people and folks just looking to learn more about climate change, feature a guest speaker who focuses the event’s main discussion on a climate-related issue.
“They just tell us about their work in nontechnical language so that the average Columbus citizen can use that information to make their own informed climate decisions,” said CCL member Mickey Rogers, an Ohio State University Ph.D. candidate in analytical chemistry.
OSU Ph.D. candidate and earth scientist Allison Chartrand presented Wednesday night to a crowd of about 20 people on her research with glaciers.
Melting land ice is among the most notable consequences of Earth’s warming temperatures, which human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have driven at least 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, according to a major report last year from the United Nations.
Chartrand fielded questions about her research and led a discussion that touched on how melting polar ice causes sea levels to rise.
“(CCL’s events are) really just trying to educate the public on why climate science — why climate change — is important to your everyday life,” Murray said.
Sixty-eight percent of people in Ohio — and 80 percent in Franklin County — believe global warming is happening, per polling last year by Yale University. The national average was 72 percent.
Majorities of Ohioans also said global warming is caused mostly by human activities (53 percent); they’re worried about global warming (60 percent); and it’s already harming Americans (55 percent).
Murray also connected America’s reliance on fossil fuels to the war in Ukraine waged by Russia, the world’s largest oil exporter. Gas prices have shot up in the U.S. partly because markets responded to the uncertainty.
“Fossil fuels are really embedded in our everyday lifestyle, and that’s a big risk, not just from a climate perspective but also from a geopolitical perspective,” Murray said.
CCL is a nonprofit, bipartisan organization with hundreds of local chapters nationwide. Its main goal is to get U.S. lawmakers to enact carbon pricing to incentivize companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Basically, we are hoping to pass policy that will tax factories and other large polluters that are emitting a lot of carbon,” Rogers said. “And then that tax comes back to the people as a dividend so they can use it how they see fit.”
The Columbus chapter has about 15-20 “really active” members, she said, but it reaches hundreds of locals with newsletters and events.
“I really hope that people don’t just think of climate change as this science topic; they think of it as relating to their daily lives,” Rogers said. “And so I’m hoping that people will kind of not fear climate change, and they can actually understand it and learn what they can do — their small part to combating climate change.”