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“Just how do we propose to solve the climate change crisis?”

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Dave Toot asks a very good question

By Andrew Harris

It is Earth Day 2023, a global day of action, reflection, and remediation of damage we have done to our planet. There are only a few people left on the planet who won’t admit that human civilization has had a negative impact on the planet that gives the gift of life.

Deforestation, strip mining, ocean trashing, war, industrial disasters are just a few of the man-made tragedies we’ve brought on “Mother Earth.” Not one of us are innocent, and we continue to be complicit in these crimes against the planet. At the same time, most of us want to stop doing damage to the planet and help solve the problem.

The recent wind turbine fire in the town of West Union paints a picture of how complicated that effort has become. For many years, wind and solar energy have been growing at exponential rates, trying to replace carbon based energy generators like coal-fired power plants. Advocates of this “green” energy champion the progress, detractors and skeptics have plenty of examples to cry “what about” and cast doubts. Accidents like the West Union wind turbine fire have already been, and will continue to be powerful tools for those who believe “green energy” is a fools errand. Accidents like train derailment in Ohio will continue to be powerful tools for those who believe that “green energy” is our only chance to keep the planet habitable. The big picture squabble is where Dave Toot’s question lies, and I’m not sure there is an answer.

While Toot’s question is important, and timely, it only focuses on the larger climate change policy debate. As little specks of life on this planet(Whos from Whoville,) we have lots of ability to change our own house and back yard for the betterment of the planet. Most real change, most long term progress comes from incremental changes, not sweeping government policy.

To celebrate Earth Day 2023, consider making some of these small changes to your daily life that will make an direct impact:

  1. Pick up other peoples trash. No it isn’t your job, but it is easy and sets an example for that little one who watches your every move. Next week, the Allegany County Democratic party will be doing this in a place where litterbugs frequent: roads and highways. Some little kid in a car passing by will ask the driver, “what are they doing?” That small conversation can have a big impact.
  2. Switch to electric lawn equipment. 2-cycle engines like leaf blowers, weed whackers, and lawnmowers create massive carbon pollution. Electric counterparts are now about the same price and from first hand knowledge, they work very well.
  3. Eat more beans, less beef. Your diet is completely under your control, and you are what you eat. A simple change in your diet, even one day per week, is a major positive change. Meatless Mondays are a great start, and that is a 14.29% incremental change that can only improve personal and planet health.
  4. Find a local farmer! Lets face it, the loss of the family farm has been tragedy unfolding my entire life, and even before. Factory farming, industrial scale monoculture, and the proliferation of pathogens like swine flu and avian flu are consequences of our American “fast food” diet. You can turn that equation around by finding a local farmer and supporting responsible food production. Allegany and Steuben counties have plenty of small farms you can support. If you want a fast track to finding a local farmer, start at the farmers market!! Alfred, Angelica, Wellsville, Olean, and Andover have some great markets with farmers who would love to meet you.
  5. Think for yourself. Don’t be dragged into the all-or-nothing debate. Reject the what-about-ism and consider what you can do as an individual. Embrace gradual, incremental changes in your daily life. Reduce your lawn size and plant more vegetation, or better yet: trees! Make a point to support the local farmers market, ask about a farm membership! Eat more vegetables, try the veggie burger!

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