Climate Connections: Voting for our climate
The purpose of this ongoing series of articles on Climate Connections is to move beyond the arguments around our climate chaos and to find area we can agree on. You may not believe in the climate issues of today … but you may be concerned about the use of plastics and the oceans. You may also be concerned about air and water quality. Whatever you want to call it, the planet needs our stewardship. The writers here will share their perspectives from many angles. Perhaps some or all will resonate with you, and bring to our awareness the necessary actions we can take. We will leave the arguments and differing beliefs to others.
— Marilyn Nyborg
It’s hard to be optimistic about our climate future right now. Smoke frequently blankets the state from end to end, four million acres of forest and rangeland burned in the state this year alone, the famous wine regions of Napa and Sonoma counties devastated, thousands displaced and hundreds of buildings lost, years of little snowpack vital to our water supply.
Thousands of acres of cropland likely to be idled by diminishing groundwater. The normally damp northwest suddenly exploded in fire. In other parts of the country spring flooding delayed or prevented planting crops followed by destructive derecho wind that destroyed thousands of acres. The hurricane season has the second highest number of named storms and forecasters had to resort to Greek letters instead of names.
We can create our own positive climate future, though. When I say positive, I mean a story arc that has a promise at the end.
Since I’m old and so many of us are, I’m reminded of how differently people can approach aging. We can see aging as nothing but a series of accumulating losses.
But we can also celebrate things we gain with age (this is not to diminish the real suffering older folks endure nor the inequities of medical care). We have beloved grandchildren whom we don’t have to care for night and day, we get to see more of the world as we walk instead of run, we can have a leisurely morning instead of rushing off to work, we benefit from all the medical and technological improvements to enhance our sight and hearing, we have time to volunteer for the community and make new friends. Most of all, we have the ability to appreciate how precious life is.
There is no doubt that, even if major efforts to fight global warming take place right away, we are in for some rough times. Unlike the trajectory of aging, though, our earth can go on forever if we take care of it. With things like renewable energy, agricultural and forest soil health changes, electrified transportation, energy-efficient buildings, reduced waste, and natural lands preservation we can have lives possibly more satisfying than we had in the past.
Maybe we can’t fly as much as we did in the past. Maybe we can’t buy anything we want on a whim. Maybe we can’t be as casual about energy use. On the other hand, the air might be cleaner than it has for a very long time. There might be far less traffic noise and fewer cars on the road. We may be able to ditch the work commute. We may have cars and appliances that don’t break down much or can be easily repaired. There could rebuild our depleted soils and suffering forest lands. There could be hundreds of thousands of new clean climate jobs with transition funding for displaced workers.
We could all have the satisfaction knowing that we stepped up to heal the world for our children, grandchildren, and all the young people. In the process I think we can also bring equity in environmental benefits and income to everyone.
Every day we vote with our dollars and our actions, things that affect everyone breathing on the planet. To get to this brighter climate future, we all need to vote for leaders at every level of government who support efforts to push back global warming.
They need to share our positive climate story arc. Ask candidates what they will do to reach this goal. Do they agree that we have possibly disastrous climate threats, do they have actual plans for climate policy, will they commit to following through on making sure we have an equitable and resilient future for everyone?
The things we’re doing right now to warm the world will continue to affect us for many years but it’s critical to slow down and stop the threat. This is probably the most important election ever for our climate future. Vote!
Reed Hamilton has been a resident of Nevada County for 38 years and is a retired businessperson. He has been growing grain in the area for the last 12 years. “As a farmer and outdoor recreation enthusiast, it is clear that our climate has changed radically. I want to save our world for my children and grandchildren.”
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