Opinion: Worried about climate change? You’re not alone
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, January 8, 2017
Happy New Year, readers! 2016 has been a long, hard slog, but in truth I’m not expecting much of a break in 2017. In a matter of days we will install a very different kind of president, who will surround himself with a rather unique circle of advisers. These will be the people who will lead the Free World.
Like many Americans (a majority, actually), I have a raft of concerns about the qualifications and intentions of our president-elect, but one worries me above all: Despite overwhelming worldwide scientific consensus to the contrary, he is dismissive of the role of human activity in climate change. We must take it as progress that he has stopped talking (and tweeting) about climate change being a Chinese hoax. On the other hand, he has chosen out-and-out climate change deniers to assume key government positions.
This lurch to anti-science could not come at a worse moment, and will not Make America Great Again. The odds are very high that our planet is hurtling toward irreversible changes that will make it a much more forbidding place for our children and grandchildren. Even as the entire world coalesces around an ambitious accord to confront climate change, our president-elect has threatened to walk away from it, and through his surrogates, threatens to cripple the progress we have made within our own borders.
For those of us, of whatever political persuasion, who accept the reality of man-made climate change and its dire consequences, this is an ominous time — all the more reason, as individual citizens, not to fall prey to defeatism. Never doubt that there are millions and millions of likeminded people, and it is from this knowledge that individual citizens find the strength to rally back. Our individual acts in the service of protecting our planet amplify the acts of others, and together create real impact. There is important work to do at all levels of government, but that work cannot succeed without a foundation of committed individuals.
Here are some suggestions on what is well within your individual power:
Conserve water. Connecticut is experiencing the worst drought since the 1960s. Almost all reservoirs are well below capacity, some dangerously so. Climate scientists feel we may have more extensive periods of drought, so this is a great time to develop good water conservation habits.
For example, be sure that your toilets and faucets don’t leak; take quicker showers; don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth; don’t flush each and every time you pee. The Aquarion Water Co.’s website is an excellent resource for more ideas: http://www.aquarion.com/CT/reduce-your-indoor-water-use
Get a home energy audit. Our homes silently waste energy in many ways. A professional home energy audit will detect these sources of waste, and fix many of them on the spot. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint, save money and make your house more comfortable. Over 2,000 homes in Fairfield have had an energy audit. More information at http://www.energizect.com/events-resources/energy-basics/energy-assessments
Be sure you’re recycling everything you can.
Entire communities across the nation are adopting composting programs. Kitchen waste that goes to landfills degrades anaerobically, creating methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Home composting, or large-scale composting services, produce little or no methane, and yield rich soil for home and commercial use. It’s not hard to start composting at home (https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home#basics). But it’s even easier, and more comprehensive, to use a composting service that will collect not only standard kitchen waste, but also bones, fat, egg shells, etc. Consider this service: www.curbcompost.org
Target your charitable contributions to empower environmental organizations. I favor organizations with strong and proven political and legal advocacy records.
Stay informed about Fairfield’s clean energy projects, especially those coordinated through its Clean Energy Task Force http://www.fairfieldct.org/content/10736/12858/17526/19131.aspx and show your support. Our town has an admirable clean energy record, but we can do even better. For example, the Board of Selectmen last year quashed a proposal to install solar carports at the train station with no up-front cost to the town. The carports would have provided clean energy to Tomlinson Middle School and saved the town $70,000-100,000 a year in energy costs.
We should not repeat this mistake.
Let your local, state, and national elected officials hear from you on climate and environmental issues. Thank them for supporting sound environmental policy and programs, but hold them accountable for irresponsible votes.
When there is a public gathering in support of environmental issues, show up!
Engage in (friendly) discussions with people who are unsure about climate change. Many people think there’s still a debate. There’s no debate. A good independent reference is NASA (http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/). The good news is that many states and municipalities are already deeply committed to clean energy, and they will continue to go forward. Through our individual actions and voices we’ll see to it that Fairfield remains one of them.
Ron Blumenfeld is a Fairfield writer and retired pediatrician. His "Moving Forward, Looking Back" appears periodically. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.