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Environment lawyer, former Harvey Countian, to speak on global warming

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Charles Benjamin says that Kansas stands “at the crossroads on global warming.”

The former Harvey County resident and Harvey County Commissioner, now based in Lawrence, will present “Global warming: The Kansas connection” on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in the chapel of the Bethel College Administration Building.

The lecture, co-sponsored by the Natural Sciences Seminar Series and the Environmental Action Club at Bethel College, is free and open to the public.

“The ‘debate’ on the causes of global warming is over,” Benjamin says. “Scientific experts on global warming believe that we have at most 10 years before we reach the tipping point where the effects of global warming will be irreversible.”

Kansas is at the crossroads on this issue, he says, because electric utilities from both inside and outside Kansas now want to build six new coal-fired electric generating facilities in the state or on the Kansas/Missouri border, including what will be the largest coal-burning complex west of the Mississippi River as well as the largest new source of carbon dioxide in the nation.

In the meantime, Benjamin adds, Kansas ranks last in the nation in energy efficiency measures that could save utility customers money while reducing the demand for electricity, and third in the nation in the potential to produce electricity from wind, which is cost competitive with coal and produces no carbon dioxide or other harmful pollutants.

“Yet very little of that potential has been implemented,” Benjamin says. “What are our moral and religious responsibilities to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren with regard to these choices?”

Benjamin is an environmental and land use attorney who has represented the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club as an attorney and lobbyist for the past 10 years. He also represents homeowners’ associations on land use and zoning issues before city, county and planning commissions.

Benjamin was a Harvey County Commissioner for 16 years and a political science professor at Bethel College for 15 years. He holds a Ph.D. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California and a J.D. from the School of Law at the University of Kansas.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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