The following op-ed was sent out to local media. Given that tomorrow is Election Day, I suppose it’s now or never for the blog! Enjoy.
By: Adam Thada, Director, Ecological Relationships at The Center at Donaldson
In the Nov. 17, 1899 edition of the Marshall County Independent newspaper, a Professor Arrhenius theorized that “an increase of carbonic acid (carbon dioxide) between 2 and 3 times its present amount would raise the mean temperature 15 degrees, and renew the hot times of the Eocene epoch.” His intuition 121 years ago has since been affirmed in recent decades by many thousands of modern scientific studies: human-caused climate change is happening, right now.
It’s no wonder that a recent poll found that 8 of every 10 Hoosier voters think that the earth’s average temperature is rising, and largely the result of human activity. Farmers are already adjusting their planting schedules and seed varieties to prepare for wet springs (like 2019) and droughty summers (like 2012). Marshall County saw serious flood damage to private homes and public roads in February 2018. Hoosier scientists are finding that these concentrated spring rain events are becoming more frequent.
Climate change also poses a problem nationally, forcing entire neighborhoods and towns to relocate due to flooding and fire. Back in 2010, the Department of Defense recognized climate change as a serious security threat, stating that it “may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.”
Our ethical and spiritual values compel us to love and care for our neighbors, our children, and our grandchildren. How can we prepare our communities? What role do our elected officials have to play?
This fall, we can vote on these values. In fact, 7 in 10 Hoosier voters think the state and federal government should do more to address climate change, and voters rank environmental concerns of equal importance with economic growth. It is important to note that local officials also have a very important role, such as building smart infrastructure and cultivating green businesses.
Here are some climate change-related questions you can ask before you vote:
For local elections, do the candidates understand renewable energy projects, like solar farms? Do they listen to knowledgeable people with experience in the field, or only the loudest voices in the room? Are they willing to commit to reasonable development standards that balance private property rights with public concern? Ask them.
Are your local officials talking about water quality and flooding issues when they make plans for the community? Are they proactively addressing these issues for the future, or just hoping they (we) will get lucky? Where are they locating development projects and why?
Our local flora & fauna will have to also adapt to climate change. Are local officials making parks & conservation areas a priority, supporting it with staff and resources? Ask them, then vote.
At the state and federal level, do the candidates realize that renewable energy jobs are among the fastest growing sector in the economy? Do they support these industries with reasonable policies and incentives, or do they funnel money to declining fossil fuel companies?
Marshall County is blessed with two beautiful rivers and dozens of lakes. Protection of these natural treasures depends in a large part on state and federal laws. Ask the candidates how they stand on strengthening smart policies that protect our water.
Local businesses, schools, and non-profits have been addressing climate change, too. Solar energy systems have sprung up at Argos Schools, John Glenn Schools, Ancilla College, The Recycle Depot, the REES Theatre, and more.
Volunteers and community groups came together to fill sandbags and provide aid to flood victims in 2018.
We all have a role to play. Will our elected officials do the same? Express your concerns, offer your assistance, and then vote your values. For more information on climate change and questions to ask political candidates, you can find a voter guide at www.poorhandmaids.org.