Earth Day A Time For Reflection

Daily News-Record, April 20, 2021

Open Forum: Cathy Strickler

Earth Day 2021 is a time of reflection for me. Fourteen years ago (May 29, 2007) the Daily News-Record printed “Stopping Global Warming” that I wrote. Since then, many people have worked hard to bring about the changes that are making a stable future more likely. What’s happening nationally and internationally is well publicized. Lesser known is that in Virginia, just last year, the Clean Economy Act was passed and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was stopped. This year the electric car bill was passed, which positions our state to be in the front of the parade of positive progress.

Locally, we are leading, too. New groups like Renew Rocktown, Solar Co-ops, Earth Day Every Day, 50by25, Give Solar, as well as Climate Action Alliance of the Valley and Sierra Club, have given muscle to action. This year Harrisonburg City Council adopted the city’s first Environmental Action Plan (EAP) and passed the resolution in favor of Harrisonburg’s transition to renewable energy by 2035. The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors is deciding how to best use land for solar farms. So much good has happened that it’s a time to celebrate, too!

We have all had time to reflect on the pandemic and how an invisible virus has changed us and the world at large. It has brought home so vividly how we are all connected. Climate change is parallel to COVID, with illness being passed on between all of us. A slow response lost lives to COVID and the same is true with climate change. Some of us have already died from extreme weather worsened by climate change. As Froma Harrop pointed out in Viewpoint (DN-R March 15, 2021) “Stopping Climate Change Is Ultimate Moon Shot,” much still needs to be done. When we went to the moon it was an “all-in” effort with enough expertise, teamwork and money to get the job done. Now, we are making progress with climate change and some elected officials are saying we need to go slow, be careful, maybe do some more studies. This sounds totally reasonable and is true in most situations. But some situations call for bold action that is already proven to be effective. Climate change is one of those situations, a moon shot. To quote Bryn Baker, director, Policy Innovation at Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance: “This is an important time for non-incremental action.”

Where do our reflections lead us? For me, first it’s the challenge to feel connected to the rest of the world, knowing there is one tribe, one team, Team Earth! Second, it’s the challenge of moving faster. When we see a toddler veering into traffic we run to grab them. The toddler is climate change and we are moving in slow motion, too slow to give the needed action that saves. Climate change is headed, in real time, for disaster.

What we do counts. Our elected officials need to hear: We want change — bigger, bolder, faster. Go Team Earth!

Cathy Strickler lives in Harrisonburg.