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With the impacts of climate change becoming more visible, scientists and teachers across the nation are working out how to teach about the topic in the nation’s classrooms.

Teachers in Missouri are using real-world issues and collaboration to help their students understand the science of climate change and the effect it could have on local communities.

“I think because our current environmental movement is very much led by teenagers, students are very excited about it,” said Jen Lacy, an environmental science teacher at Crossroads Preparatory Academy.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3 file photo

The conversation around climate change often feels dire and urgent. But experts say there’s still time to make a difference.

“I think it's really easy to get bogged down in the doom and gloom of climate change,” says Karen Clawson, principal planner with the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), which is coming up with a regional climate action plan.

“It will take an army to do this … Everybody has a place,” she says.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service file photo

More than 2 million people live in the Kansas City metro, on either side of the state line. They live in urban, suburban and rural communities, and in everything from subsidized apartments to century-old farm homes.

As scientists better understand the impact of climate change, elected officials, city planners and housing advocates are working to design housing that will endure extreme weather. 

Greg Echlin / KCUR 89.3

It seems odd that Sporting Kansas City would make a presentation this week at a national sustainable agriculture summit. 

After all, professional sports eat up lots of resources: jet and diesel fuel for trips to away games, water to keep the turf or fairways looking lush and electricity to fire up their fans and keep score.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

It’s been one of the wettest years on record in Kansas City. With climate change, the likelihood of heavy rainfall is expected to increase, as are flash floods. And cities are starting to realize their infrastructure is not up to snuff. 

Kansas City faced that reality about 10 years ago, when the Environmental Protection Agency mandated the city replace its 100-year-old sewer system after multiple violations of the Clean Water Act.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3

Residents in the Kansas City metro are increasingly choosing to power their homes with rooftop solar panels. It's a choice spurred by both the promise of lower monthly energy bills and concern for the environment. But barriers to "going solar" remain, especially for low- and middle-income households. 

Illustration by Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

In the spring of 1989, Missouri lawmakers were motivated to figure out how climate change would affect the state’s economy, political future and social capital. 

A year after California started looking into climate change, the Missouri General Assembly created a commission of 14 experts and politicians to study the issue and come up with solutions. The result was more than 100 policy suggestions, covering everything from the use of solar and wind energy to transportation and teaching about climate change.

Three decades later, experts say Missouri hasn’t achieved its goals. 

McGown Gordon Construction

In Kansas City and across the country, performance venues and artists have had to make adjustments due to more extreme weather events.

And when it comes to climate change, there's one thing arts organizations need to do: "Prepare." That's according to Karin Rabe, properties master at the Alley Theatre in Houston, where flooding is a growing concern. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Middle schoolers in the Kansas City area are paying close attention to Greta Thunberg and other youth climate activists making waves across the world. They’re also proposing their own solutions for global warming.

“I like to see kids taking action about what might happen in the future,” said Liam McKinley, an eighth grader at Chisholm Trail Middle School in Olathe. “I like to come up with random ideas about how we can fix that, even though it might not be achievable in the next few years.”

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Nicole Jackson came to the first Midwest SoulVeg Fest to get some inspiration on her slow path to being a vegan. She admitted that as a black person who grew up going to events centered on meat, it’s easier said than done.

“Sunday dinner after church, the cookouts, the barbeques, where we are just gathered by food that pulls us together,” said Jackson, who is from Olathe, Kansas.

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

The changes in climate that people in the Kansas City region are now experiencing haven't been seen in previous lifetimes.

That's according to Doug Kluck, a regional climate services director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He also spent 18 years with the National Weather Service as a researcher and forecaster.

KCUR recently sat down with Kluck in an effort to provide readers with some perspective on what's happening. Below is the edited version of that conversation.