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Local researcher and 'science mom' encourages families to talk about clean energy during Earth Month

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Posted at 10:38 AM, Mar 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-31 15:13:28-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) -- — In recent years, supporters of renewable energy have made their case for more Arizonans to "go green" and help their environments.

Where is Arizona getting its energy right now? Most of it comes from natural gas, if you look at data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Nuclear power and coal round out the state's top three power sources. Next on the list, solar power accounts for 9 percent; hydro-electric power provides 5 percent and wind energy accounts for one percent.

Change, major or not, can feel daunting if families don't know what they can do to switch their homes and communities to cleaner energy sources.

That's why a top research scientist at the University of Arizona wants to appeal to her fellow moms.

She wants to starts of many conversations - 'clean-versations', specifically - about ways parents could save money in the long term and invest in future benefits for their kids.

"We wanted to help other moms who maybe aren't as confident about their knowledge of climate," Dr. Joellen Russell said. "(Talk about) why it's changing and what's happening, and then we wanted to talk about things we can do."

As an oceanographer, Russell has spent years tracking changes to our waters. She joined the non-partisan advocacy group Science Moms to talk to parents about ways older forms of fuel -- what she and the group call 'dirty energy' -- can negatively impact growing kids.

"I'm hoping everybody will have one of these 'clean-versations' at their kitchen table and see what they can do, to protect our kids' future and promote prosperity for the whole community," Russell said.

Russell said people can look at taking individual and collective action. Start with what you can maybe do at home, or even the office. She said consider replacing several tools, such as an electric leaf blower over a gas-powered one.

While it's not apples to apples investing in homes or offices, Russell said you can also check if your HVAC system isn't as efficient. You could purchase a non-carbon-emitting appliance.

On a community level, Russell said she thinks parents should know about the newest federal financial incentives and make an immediate change at the school district level.

"(Talk) to a PTA about: 'Hey! There is money, this is the opportunity,'" she said. "There is federal money through the new clean energy laws that have been put into place already. There is money available to switch from those diesel belching school buses to electric buses."

Russell and the Science Moms will work to have these interactions through April -- which is Earth Month.

José Zozaya is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Before arriving in southern Arizona, José worked in Omaha, Nebraska where he covered issues ranging from local, state and federal elections, to toxic chemical spills, and community programs impacting immigrant families. Share your story ideas and important issues with José by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.