I hope you know that the earth’s climate is changing. CO2 and methane produced from human and natural activity is raising the atmospheric temperature. Weather events are becoming more intense; rising sea levels, changes in plant and animal habitats are affecting our food system and our economic system. Climate change and the human choices that influence it are complex.
I think seeing the effects of extreme weather events on our food system is what finally got our attention here in the Midwest. The Iowa Flood of 2008 got MY attention. I realized how fragile our human systems were and how often they are not in alignment with natural laws. Our public policy and built environment influence our choices. Public policy is the ‘rules’ we put in place so we can live better together in our communities. This includes zoning for land use, water management & treatment systems, energy incentives and more. ‘Built environment’ is the way our towns and transportation systems are organized. I didn’t understand how that impacts my lifestyle choices until I went to Italy a couple of years ago. I visited Venice where there are no roads. It is built for foot traffic. There are no cars, or trucks or buses. Not even motorcycles (even though I bought a ‘Vespa Venice’ T-shirt at the train station – huh?!). Products arrive by train or boat, then, are carted by men up the narrow ‘streets’ to the business or restaurant. Transportation systems are ‘built environment’. I visited Hawaii last year and discovered that most of the electricity is produced by solar. Nearly every house I saw had solar panels on the roof. And most homes did not have air conditioning; they were designed to take advantage of air circulation for comfort. Also, water does not come from wells, like here in the Midwest, it comes from rain collection. Water and energy systems are ‘built environment’. Public policy influences the built environment.
“Okay,” you say, “What can I do about climate change?” Here is what I am doing:
· Connect with those who make public policy. Understand the process. Provide feedback, experience and knowledge to the decision makers. Tell them I want policies that encourage clean energy systems, clean air and clean water.
· Drive less. Stay home one day a week. Consolidate errands into one trip instead of several.
· Buy less. Think twice before ordering online or going through the checkout at the store.
· Grow something you can eat. Anything – one tomato plant in a pot. Mushrooms on a log. Chives on your window sill.
· Compost food waste. Get a red wiggler worm bin to turn your veggie scraps into fertilizer!
· Share your extras. Give away clothing, shoes, food, time and talents. This ‘invisible’ distribution of wealth at the local level is a component of resilient economic systems.
· Go herbicide/pesticide free. Lawn chemicals are produced from fossil fuels and contaminate your water system.
· Collect spring rain water for irrigation during the dry months.
· Install solar or wind energy generation.
What are your climate-friendly practices? Which need public policy support?
Connection with Nature, Energy, Environment, Food, Public policy, Waste Prevention, Water quality & conservation