We currently have a climate crisis, and this should be our highest priority. Climate change is real and human-activity contributes to it. As a city, we can take steps to reduce our carbon footprint by creating building ordinances, certifications, green investments, and provided support for renewable energy. From the Saint Paul Climate Resiliency Plan, Ward 1 have considerable vulnerabilities from climate change including the urban heat island effect along the Green Line and Frogtown area, heavier concentrations of pollution, and vulnerability of the ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer.
To really have a local/global impact on climate policy community members need to be informed, and build collective power. This collective power can be used to hold the city and energy service providers accountable as well as influence business decisions. Unfortunately due to the politicization of climate change, it will take time for community members to build relationships, and come to consensus. Regardless community members, can take immediate steps.
How can we address climate change while improving our quality of life?
By tackling climate change, we address other concerns such as public health, community safety, employment, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. First, there are “win-win” solutions where we can lower our financial costs and reduce our environmental impact, such as community solar. Second, we can encourage activities that improve our community resiliency and build relationships with community members. Urban farming can increase food security and growing medicinal herbs. In addition, promotion of healthier diets can improve personal health, while reducing environmental impact.
If we want to protect our planet, then people need to experience and engage with nature.
There is considerable environmental injustice in impoverished neighborhoods especially in a dense city where there is greater exposure to pollutants and lack of access to clean natural spaces. If you do not grow up in a privileged family (i.e. such as a cabin up north), it is difficult for youth to build a relationship with the natural world. While as an undergraduate in SUNY Binghamton, I was one of the few urban poor environmentalists in my entire major. If we want to foster the next generation of caretakers, then we need to provide easy access to green spaces, and opportunities for nature trips/recreational activities. It is the youth that will inherit our planet; we should amplify their voices and listen.
Finally, it’s worth nothing the efforts of the indigenous population whom have been fighting to protect our land for many generations.