Today and a week ago, millions of people around the world demonstrated to bring your attention to the climate crisis. It’s easy to go on with daily tasks and get caught up in the usual political wrangling. Our challenge is to interrupt our routines with bold action to try to heal the planet.
We humans have done horrendous damage to the environment. Our fossil fuel emissions are causing the temperature to rise. We are on track to lose two thirds of our wildlife by 2020. Like many Minnesotans, I grew up exploring the woods and rivers around my home. Being out in nature soothes my soul and it breaks my heart to see these changes.
In your role as a public policymaker, please do what you can to bolster the environment. The current administration in Washington has got it wrong, weakening protections for air, water, and endangered species, promoting fossil fuel use, and ignoring the climate crisis. We need to:
Transform our economy to 100% clean, renewable energy, phasing out use of fossil fuel and putting a halt to licensing and permitting for fossil fuel extraction, processing and infrastructure projects.
We can increase supports for wind and solar power producers and encourage people to use that power in homes and businesses. We can encourage use of electric cars and research other renewable energy technologies.
Protect and restore 50% of the world’s lands and oceans and halt deforestation.
We can protect and expand natural public lands and encourage restoration of original landscapes. My friends, Mike and Marcie, are restoring their farmlands in Wisconsin to prairie and oak savanna through careful stewardship.
Invest in farmers and regenerative agriculture and end subsidies for industrial agriculture.
Farmers’ connection with the land already makes them conservationist. Our policies can make it easier and more financially viable.
Invest in prosperity for communities on the frontlines of poverty and pollution.
Welcome those displaced by the cumulative effects of the climate crisis, economic inequality, violence, and lack of opportunity.
Our immigration policies need to be compassionate and generous, as the climate crisis results in an increased number of refugees worldwide.
Policymakers can use the tools of regulation, taxes and subsidies to move us toward restoring the planet.
In my household, we lease an electric car, live in an apartment to minimize our space requirements, and recycle as much as we can. We get 100% of our power from Xcel Energy windfarms. I am a vegetarian. Tomorrow, we plan to join with others to plant trees. We are doing what we can. I invite you to join us by transforming your personal choices and standing up for public policy that moves us in the right direction.
Yesterday, I was out on the Stone Arch Bridge near downtown Minneapolis watching a bald eagle fly circles above the Mississippi. As you may know, eagles were on the brink of extinction in 1963. The pesticide DDT was banned soon after and the species rebounded. Their story brings me hope that we humans can do the right things and turn away from destruction.