Global warming was a hot topic at the conference “America’s Role in the World,” last week at the Hamilton-Lugar School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University.
How much global warming can be charged to Indiana, and what are we doing about it? Attendees heard some answers during the session titled “Indiana and the World: Environmentalism Begins at Home.”
The challenge, moderator Bob Zaltsberg reminded the audience, is that Indiana is one of the leading greenhouse gas producers among U.S. states. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports Indiana is the eighth biggest state producer of carbon dioxide by human activity.
By comparison, New York ranks ninth and Illinois seventh. Texas ranks first, producing four times as much carbon dioxide as Indiana.
Zaltsberg, special projects editor of WFIU news, invited a panel of Indiana environmental experts to address the greenhouse gas problem.
Greg Ronczka, vice president of environment and sustainability at Heidelberg Materials, a major U.S. producer of concrete, said the company soon will have “industrial-scale carbon capture” at its plant in Mitchell, the Lawrence County town about 35 miles south of Bloomington.
The company plans to permanently store carbon byproducts of manufacturing in a 7,250-foot deep well at the Mitchell site.
Kristina Lund, president and CEO of AES Indiana, formerly known as Indianapolis Power & Light Company, said her company is “moving completely out of coal-fired generation. We’ll be out of coal and into renewable energy within 5 years.”
Carey Hamilton, an IU graduate and Democratic Caucus Chair in the Indiana House of Representatives, has sponsored Indiana Senate Bill 390, which takes effect July 1, 2023, and will promote commercial solar and wind-energy-ready communities throughout Indiana. And as an avid hiker, Hamilton noted her interest in getting Hoosiers out of their cars and onto the state’s growing miles of trails.
Andrea Richter-Garry, senior vice president for global strategy and engagement at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, noted that Indiana is home to one of the largest solar farms in North America. A near-term objective, she said, is to reduce to 50% the state’s present 70% to 80% dependence on coal-fired generation of electricity.
The keynote speaker at the IU conference, Sen. John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State, called the climate crisis “literally the test of our own times. It’s not about one country or two countries or some bilateral agreement. It requires every single country in the world to be involved.”
Kerry spoke by recorded video from Panama, where he was attending an international conference on the state of the world’s oceans. But he knows the IU campus and the Hamilton-Lugar School.
“I really enjoyed the chance to come to Bloomington a few years back and visit with you for the school’s groundbreaking and to participate as a speaker in the first-ever conference,” he said.
“It’s young people around the world who are calling on adults to behave like adults and exercise their basic responsibilities,” Kerry said in his address broadcast Thursday at the IU conference.
Young people, he said, “know that the world is not responding fast enough to an existential threat. It’s one that they didn’t create but for which they risk bearing the ultimate burden — uninhabitable communities on an increasingly unlivable planet.”
“So … have a great conference,” Kerry said. “Let’s win this battle that is still winnable.”
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