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Monday, April 05, 2021

Into the Fire

COVID-19 may be cooling, but not our climate. Last year, with major disruptions and shutdowns, it's estimated that overall global emissions dropped by seven percent. That's unprecedented. BUT, it's the very least that needs to happen every year for the next several years to have any chance of keeping the rise in the global temperature below 2 degrees (C). The LEAST. EVERY year.

But, who is talking about it? News reports about expected surges of happy families flying all over the Earth for their well-deserved vacations are rarely accompanied by stories about high greenhouse gas emissions from flying. Pictures of endless streams of cars headed off to the beach or the stadium are usually not paired with the statistics showing transportation-sector emissions, especially those from cars and light trucks, are leading the pack. 

We have to talk about it. 

Here's a start. 

  • On April 20 at 7 p.m., the Coulee Region Sierra Club, during its Meet the Sierra Club online Earth Week presentation, will talk about the climate action the Sierra Club is taking and how you can join them. 
  • On April 21 at noon (online), Casey Meehan of the Sustainability Institute at Western Technical College will talk about it and, more importantly, he'll talk about what we can do about it
  • On Saturday, April 24, from 2 to 5 p.m., several area EV (electric vehicle) owners will be at the City Hall parking lot to talk about how switching to EVs can make a real difference

We have to talk about it AND we have to demand that everyone talks about it, including our local media, especially TV local news, local newspapers, and local elected officials. THEY have to talk about it and connect it to everything else we do because EVERYthing we do, from idling in a fast food take-out lane for stuff grown and processed thousands of miles away to buying and throwing away fossil fuel-produced plastic to tearing down refurbishable buildings, has a climate consequence. 

Right now, the line between future habitability and toast is pretty thin.

And, while it's important that we each do what we can to live and model sustainable lives, much more important is getting systemic change at the community, state, and national level. 

"You argue people need to focus strategically on system change, but online bots are stirring up arguments over individual lifestyle choices. That said, you suggest there is too much emphasis on reducing meat, which is a relatively minor source of emissions compared with fossil fuels. Isn’t that likely to be divisive among vegetarians and vegans?

"Of course lifestyle changes are necessary but they alone won’t get us where we need to be. They make us more healthy, save money and set a good example for others. But we can’t allow the forces of inaction to convince us these actions alone are the solution and that we don’t need systemic changes. If they can get us arguing with one another, and finger pointing and carbon shaming about lifestyle choices, that is extremely divisive and the community will no longer be effective in challenging vested interest and polluters."

- "Climatologist Michael E Mann: 'Good people fall victim to doomism. I do too sometimes'" by Jonathan Watts, February 27, 2021, The Guardian (UK) 

Let's talk about it and demand that our leaders talk about it. Let's do something about it and demand our communities, institutions, and businesses do something about it.


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