A global warming panel met Wednesday night at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in a quest to inform local residents about their best armor against a rapidly changing climate.

Five speakers discussed what they believe to be today’s most pressing environmental problems and what they believe needs to happen to fix them, agreeing that the Santa Barbara community needs to act immediately and collectively to avoid a tragic future.

Moderator Stan Roden opened the discussion by giving the issues of global warming a modern and local context. He acknowledged the students in the room, and then explained that every person younger than age 27 has never known a month during which the average temperature was lower than the average temperature of the previous month.

“We are privileged to live among the 1 billion people that live in developed countries,” Roden said, urging the audience to take advantage of its privilege for the good of the planet. “There are 6 billion people out there who want to live just like you.”

Frank Davis, director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, spoke first about the environmental benefits of living on the coast and how residents need to adapt in order to stay resilient to the negative outcomes of the changing surroundings.

Dave Davis, president and CEO of the Community Environmental Council, connected the science of the changes to the real effects on the population.

“What’s going to happen to this planet when you go from 7 million to 9 million people?” Davis said. “Frankly, when you hear an alarm, you wake up.”

He explained that our generation has yet to wake up, though the alarms keep ringing. This is because of the naturally large gap between cause and effect of environmental change, among various other factors. He ended his speech by saying that despite the state of things, he has hope that people will counteract the changes.

John Ledbetter, principal planner for the City of Santa Barbara, spoke about carbon emissions, as did Bruce Allen, co-founder of Stop Oil Seeps California.

“I think it’s certainly necessary, globally, to reduce carbon intensity, but how do we get there?” Allen said. “Overall, I think there is a reason to be optimistic about Santa Barbara’s both climate and future.”

The final panelist centered the discussion on what he called the current state of inaction.

“Our response to climate change is complicated,” said John Jostes, a professional planner. “We’re not wired to deal with time-related tasks.”

Jostes said that it isn’t the problems in our reach that pose the real risks; it’s the problems that are slowly becoming worse and worse that will get us in the end.

As the speeches turned into a group discussion with the sizable crowd in attendance, there was much discussion — and debate — on how best to address the biggest problems. Jostes, however, commented on this observation instead of arguing along.

“The sad fact is that people are unwilling to agree on the problem that they’re fighting about,” Jostes said. “We haven’t been able to change the ‘me’ to ‘we.’”

A lively discussion continued, with the general consensus being that Santa Barbara needs to unite and take action, as community power is what they believe will springboard the area into real change.

Noozhawk intern Kelsey Gripenstraw can be reached at kgripenstraw@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.