JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The League of Women Voters of Northeast Tennessee hosted a climate change forum on Saturday to discuss the latest developments in federal legislation, environmental lobbying and how the Northeast Tennessee Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) chapter is refocusing on local collaborations.

CCL member Marat Moore spoke about different ways people can combat climate change. Her presentation included tree equity, the loss of biodiversity, solar panel usage, electric vehicles, different utilities that help reduce pollution, environmental racism and many other climate issues.

There was a Q&A session at the end where attendees could ask and discuss any questions they had. Diane Nelson, professor emerita in the Department of Biological Sciences at East Tennessee State University and a member of the League of Women Voters, was in attendance.

She said she believes in educating people on why it’s important to maintain our climate for future generations.

“We do try to use various means of educating people by having forums, by having discussions, by print, literature, by websites,” said Nelson. “So, we’re trying to reach as many people as possible because we only have one planet to live on. There is no Planet B.”

Nelson is particularly concerned about the loss of biodiversity as many species of plants and animals are going extinct. Biological diversity involves the variety of different living things inhabiting the planet.

“Just every day, more and more species are dying out,” said Nelson. “They’re becoming extinct because the climate is changing. There’s no doubt from all of the scientific literature and all of the data that we’ve accumulated that the climate is changing.”

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political group that believes in voting for legislators that will help fight climate issues.

“The only way that change happens is when people vote,” said Nelson. “And if people understand the situation and they are educated, they’re more likely to vote in favor of mitigating the climate crisis that we’re facing now. We’re seeing people losing their homes due to climate change. Whole communities are being wiped out by hurricanes, by flooding. And we have to change that in order to have a future.”

Nelson explains how Northeast Tennessee sees the effects of climate change as well, especially when warmer temperatures are occurring during winter.

“We had 80 degrees in February,” said Nelson. “That’s not normal. People say, ‘oh, it’s lovely out. It’s 80 degrees,’ but it’s not lovely when it’s causing the plants to die and the animals to die. We’re losing our pollinator species, which means we lose the species that pollinate our plants.”

She encourages people to learn about climate change and to participate in the many Earth Day activities that are taking place on April 22nd.