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Drought. Warming climates. Rising sea levels. Disappearing habitats. Extinction.
A nearly full audience in the Edmond Town Hall Theatre on Sunday, March 5, watched Before The Flood, a documentary about climate change. The film features Leonardo DiCaprio on a journey as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, traveling to five continents and the Arctic to witness changes firsthand, according to beforetheflood.com.
The environmental subcommittee of Newtown Forward, a local advocacy group with a number of efforts, and the Newtown High School Environmental and Forestry Clubs worked together to host the screening. Newtown Forward is made up of several groups that advocate for diversity and unity, political action, and youth outreach, along with the climate change group.
“We were thrilled with the turnout,” said Lynn Hungaski, with the Newtown Forward subcommittee.
Also at the screening Sunday was Western Connecticut State University Professor Mitch Wagener. Following the film he addressed attendees. “If all of us do a small thing, and add it all up — it’s not such a small thing,” he said.
Newtown Sustainable Energy Commission Chair Kathy Quinn also spoke of the environmental initiatives ongoing in Newtown, various municipal solar panel installations, and possible grants for future efforts.
“It’s important that we do what we can,” she said.
Newtown High School senior Natalie Young watched the film. “It’s really eye-opening,” she said. She will be going to college soon, and is considering how she can “help educate, and what I can do for the world. She currently follows a pescatarian diet, which is the practice of eating fish and sea foods, but no other animal flesh.
Karolyn Baumgartner, an environmental science teacher at Newtown High School, has “been concerned about climate change.” She feels that part of her responsibility is “to teach students about climate change.” Ms Baumgartner took away the message: “This is serious.”
Also an environmental science teacher at the high school, Stephanie Paulsson “appreciated the movie.” The film “made complex science tangible for students to understand.
“It’s happening now,” Ms Paulsson said.
The women agreed that there could be solutions in science and technology.
Regarding technology, Ms Paulsson added there are “great 21st Century skills for our students. They’re the future. There are solutions.”
Before entering the theater Sunday, residents passed through the Edmond Town Hall lobby where tables offered information about household recycling, the Newtown Fruit Trail installed at Fairfield Hills, solar energy programs, and more.
One facts sheet offered hints about what people can do to help conserve water, recycle, compost, and more.
Newtown Forward formed in November to affect change in several areas, including climate change, Ms Hungaski said. She and others ran the event and invited several others, including the Sustainable Energy Commission, transfer station representatives, and the high school AP Environmental Club. Solar City and Aquarion Water paid for part of the event as sponsors.