Whether it’s coronavirus or climate crisis, think globally and act locally now

Mar 23, 2020 By Adeline Bailey Letter to the Editor in the Marietta Times

Currently, reports of the spread of the coronavirus fill the news.

COVID-19 started far from the U.S., but now Ohio health officials and public health departments here in our valley “out of an abundance of caution” are taking steps to prevent an outbreak. As individuals we’re urged to practice good hand-washing, contact our local health care providers, stay home if we’re feeling ill, limit unnecessary travel, make plans in case day-to-day activities are disrupted, and take special precautions if we’re part of a vulnerable population group. Our local, state, and federal government departments are preparing tests to identify, isolate, and treat those already affected, and they are working on ways to help with the economic challenges that the pandemic could cause.

I’m grateful for this organized response to COVID-19. It gives me hope that realizing we are part of a global community impacted by something that has no respect for national borders might help us understand that we need to work together in taking action against climate change.

The ways we are dealing with the virus can instruct the ways we can deal with the climate crisis. As individuals, we can change the ways we heat our homes and produce our foods; get our electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar; drive electric cars; recycle, and reduce waste and pollution. Mariettans can ask local government to encourage buying from local farmers and merchants and reward businesses that help reduce the city’s carbon footprint and energy emissions. We can encourage local government to add solar panels to more municipal buildings, to develop more projects that make the city a desirable place to live and work, and build resilience against the extreme weather events and other impacts that climate change may bring to future generations of Mariettans.

We have an opportunity to come together to discuss what we’d like Marietta to look like in 10, or 20, or 50 years. City officials and citizens alike can share their views at a Sustainable Marietta Forum hosted by the Green Sanctuary Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Society. The three-day event is free, and anyone interested can register in advance at tinyurl.com/sustainable-marietta-forum. Following the Governor’s restrictions on large group gatherings, the planning group has postponed this event. In the meantime, they are working on creating a virtual forum for continuing the discussion on sustainabity.

While local action is important, it’s imperative that we also ask our national government to help us succeed in protecting our future. One effective and practical way to deal with this problem in the U.S. is for the government to collect a fee on carbon that increases over time, to impose it on coal before it ships from the mine and on oil and natural gas before they are piped from the well. Legislation before the House of Representatives (H.R. 763) stipulates returning the fee in equal monthly payments to all households. This carbon fee and dividend model is supported by U.S. economists and former chairs of the Federal Reserve, and by Citizens’ Climate Lobby. For more information about the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act: energyinnovationact.org.