Renewable energy advocates say climate in crisis

? Advocates of renewable energy Tuesday said global climate change required a massive public response, similar to the United States’ effort in World War II.

“We don’t have that sense of urgency about the climate change crisis, and it’s more serious” than World War II, said Wes Jackson, president of the Salina-based Land Institute.

Jackson’s comments were made to about 200 people during the annual Kansas Renewable Energy and Efficiency Conference.

Jackson said 54 percent of all oil ever burned has been used in the last 22 years.

Burning fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, produces carbon dioxide emissions that have led to drastic climate changes that the world is only beginning to deal with, he said.

“The speed with which this is coming shortens the timeframe that we have to act,” he said. “Look at the numbers, but more importantly, look at your grandchildren.”

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson said the time is right for Kansas to jump to the forefront in the production of wind energy. Kansas is one of the windiest states in the nation.

And, he said, market forces and the prospect of federal requirements for more renewable energy are making wind energy even more appealing to investors.

Kansas’ current production of 364 megawatts of wind-generated electricity will increase more than three-fold by 2010, he said.

“We are truly making phenomenal progress,” he said.

He also touted the increased production of ethanol in Kansas.

After his speech, Parkinson criticized a proposed coal power project in western Kansas, which would put twin 700-megawatt units in production with most of the electricity going out of state.

He said development of coal plants hurts the progress of wind energy and should only be considered “as an absolute last resort.”

The permits for the plant are being considered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.