Reed Hamilton: Voting for our climate
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 were devastated, thousands of people were displaced and hundreds of buildings were destroyed after years of little snowpack vital to our water supply. Thousands of acres of cropland are 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 a destructive derecho wind that destroyed thousands of acres. The hurricane season had the second highest number of named storms so 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 neither 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 before. 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 be processes to rebuild our depleted soils and suffering forestlands. 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, actions 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, and 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.
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