by Natural Resources Commissioner Lee Haggas
The negative effects of human-caused climate change can no longer be denied or ignored. Chicago-area winters have been gradually getting milder with less snow and higher average temperatures compared to 20 years ago. In the summer, more frequent use of air conditioning is needed to maintain comfort. Numerous scientific studies detail the effects of our warming planet including rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers, flooding due to increasing intensity and duration of localized rainfall, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and water causing oceans are becoming more acidic, and thus aquatic plants and animals are stressed enough that some species are not expected to survive. We are next.
A group representing most countries of the world have been meeting yearly to talk about how we can begin to limit the effects of climate change through government action including phasing out fossil fuels and relying more on renewable energy sources. This is commendable, but it’s not enough to save our way of life over the long term, and assume that governments and scientists will “fix” the problem.
This is destructive and naïve thinking. The only solution to the climate crises is individual action. That is, changing our own habits to reduce our impact on the climate. While there are many examples of this, but the easiest is to look at our pristine lawns being regularly manicured, excessively watered and fertilized. The grass we worship is a desert compared to areas comprised of native plants which do not require all that care, expense and fossil fuel to survive.
Look around and notice that nature is not neat! Please think about how we as individuals can help reduce the release of heat-trapping emissions by making better decisions in our own backyard. Help the planet heal and attempt to reverse the destruction for the next generations.