Across the planet now we see ever more flood, ever more drought, ever more storms. People are dying, communities are being wrecked - the impacts we're already witnessing from climate change are unlike anything we have seen before.



Every time we pick up the newspaper and read about another record-breaking natural disaster, it becomes increasingly clear that climate change is not a future problem - it's happening right now.



But because the globe is so big, it's hard for most people to see that it's all connected. That's why, Saturday May 5, we will "Connect the Dots" starting at the Decorah Court House.



Connect the Dots is a project of 350.org, a global grassroots movement focused on the climate crisis, to shine a spotlight on the connections between extreme weather and climate change. Invested community members will highlight these connections to issue a wake-up call for our Decorah community, the media and our politicians.



"I see this event as important for 'connecting the dots' in our own community," Carolyn Corbin, Decorah City Council member said. "We have a lot of people working independently on climate issues and we have a high level of intellectual capital around climate change. This is a way to broaden the base and create a larger movement for green energy and environmental responsibility."



Climate change in Iowa



In 2011, the Iowa Climate Change Impacts Committee completed a report to the Governor and the Iowa General Assembly entitled, "Climate Change Impacts on Iowa." The report clearly states that Iowa communities, perhaps without their realization, are impacted by climate change in their lives and activities.



"Current state climate changes are linked, in very complex and sometimes yet unknown ways, to global climate change. Some changes, such as the increased frequency of precipitation extremes and long-term upward trend in temperature, have seriously affected the state in a negative way," the report noted.



According to Iowa Climate Change Impact Committee, climate change is linked to increased flooding and temperature in Iowa as well as changes in soil erosion, weed problems, animal and species migration and finally, public health. The economic ramifications of Iowa's changing climate will continue to unfold in the coming decades as agricultural practices, insurance companies and infrastructure maintenance adapt or respond to warmer conditions in Iowa.



Decorah's 'connect the dots' event



As a result, a small group of invested community members are hosting a local Connect the Dots event Saturday, May 5, at 1 p.m.



"We invite community members, families and friends to Decorah's courthouse stairs this Saturday," Perry-O Sliwa, event coordinator said. "Come prepared to walk about a mile across town as we connect the dots between policy, extreme weather and local energy initiatives."



While on the steps, participants will learn from policy experts as they speak on state and national policies that support -- or disregard -- our energy crisis.Speakers include Andy Johnson, director of the Winneshiek Energy District as well as John Beard, local farmer and Iowa Senate candidate.



From the courthouse, participants will parade down Main Street to the beginning of the Dug Road Trail.



"While next to the river, one can see the high water mark of the flood that shocked our community in 2008," Heidi Skildum, event coordinator said. "We can use the high water mark as our platform to speak about the severe weather we've witnessed in our community."



David Faldet, author of Oneota Flow and Luther College English professor, will speak about the Upper Iowa Flood of 2008 and Karl Knudson will review the changes seen during a lifetime of river care.



"Our last stop on the walk will be the Water Street Plaza to share the positive impact of local initiatives that promote stewardship and sustainability in Winneshiek County," Erika Kambs, event coordinator and education coordinator for Green Iowa AmeriCorps said.



Participants also will hear from local speakers such as Jim Edrington (Seed Savers), Steve McCargar (Decorah's Farmer's Market), Dennis Pottratz (Go Solar) as well as celebrate with energy-conscious community members, such as Brad Crawford and Luther Sustainability students, who value energy conservation and promote environmental awareness through their lifestyle.



The goal of the event is to build momentum to create a deeper connection from our grassroots organizations back to the policy makers at the state and national level.



For more information on global climate change, check out 350.org and climatedots.org.