Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, left, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, state energy adviser Dianne Nielson, Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison and Midvale Mayor Joann Seghini take part in the panel discussion at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday.

Mayors representing constituencies across the state participated in a panel discussion Thursday night as part of the global discussion on climate change.

"The key is linking the local to the global perspective to respond to the obstacles we face," said host and radio personality Doug Fabrizzio. "From there, we need to turn the threat into an opportunity for action."

The discussion took place at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah as part of Focus the Nation, a national educational and civic engagement initiative aimed at uniting millions of U.S. citizens to find solutions to global warming.

"You guys are driving the ship," said Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison. "People have got to demand change and come up with a new way of thinking about the world we live in."

Utahns can do their part by "turning off the lights and opening the blinds" and "realize energy efficiency is a big thing," said the governor's energy adviser, Dianne Nielson. She said in order for Americans to reach a goal that would effect climate change, each person would need to use 16 percent to 17 percent less energy, which for some is a major investment.

"It takes choices made by individuals," she said. Electing leaders with similar focus is also an important step.

Other efforts such as planting trees, using mass transit, participating in city planning and cleaning up water sources, as mentioned by the panel, can also make an impact.

"It's not only about doing the right thing, but doing the right thing well," said U. President Michael K. Young, adding that the U. community is working to feel the same way about being green as it does about being red.

Likewise, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon has taken steps to put solar panels on the roofs of several government buildings, generating power to run various facilities in alternative ways.

"We're in a state that has the second-most sunny days in the nation," he said. "We should be concentrating that into solar projects throughout the region. The sun is a great asset. We need to use it."

New Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said he is continually pleased with the number of his constituents who recognize global warming as an issue, specifically in the past year. He credited the work of Al Gore and a focus by the media for increasing the awareness and sensitivity toward the environment.

"I don't think of it as making sacrifices," he said. "It's more about making our lives and our world healthy."

Becker said that in order to create a desire to change, government needs to spur initiatives that would provide monetary incentives for conserving energy.

More than 1,300 schools nation wide held similar events simultaneously, making it the largest teach-in in history, organizers believe. Campus groups, along with members of the community, held numerous events throughout the month to engage residents in a constant and expanding dialogue.

Being energy-efficient, Nielson said, "is about creating strategies, technologies and approaches that will last. It's not just changing our behavior for a period of time."