Why I Care

A lifelong Hollander addresses the most dire impacts of the climate crisis, who it affects, and how locals can help make an impact.

By Shanley Smith

Picture by Patty O Sullivan via Unsplash

Why I Care

Recently I’ve been speaking at city council meetings. Each time I address my concerns for the climate. For a woman in her mid-twenties, this isn’t a particularly common way to spend Wednesday evenings. But at this point, I really can’t imagine spending my evenings any other way. 

Why? Because we’re in crunch time, folks. Seriously.

And unlike in Aesop’s Fables, the slow tortoise won’t win this race.

Climate scientists are telling us the actions we take in the next ten years will be truly consequential. The question is… what kind of actions will we take? Actions that preserve our environment or actions that destroy it?

The Consequences

If we choose the latter of these two, scientists say the effects over these next ten years will be, in many ways, irreversible.

We will lose thousands of plant and animal species that cannot survive the effects of a 2º celsius increase in temperature.

Entire coastal communities will be lost to swelling oceans. 

And polar vortexes and extreme storms will continue to threaten and disrupt our communities and claim lives. 

This is a life or death matter. It threatens the fragile members of the ecosystem: bees, frogs, salamanders, birds. It threatens geographically-vulnerable individuals outside our community: Climate refugees from coastlines swallowed by forest fires and rising waters. Climate refugees whose homes will be flooded in Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas. Climate refugees displaced from cities such as Phoenix, American’s most rapidly warming city which even now spends over six months above 100 degrees.

Where Do We Stand Now?

We already have over a million Americans displaced from their homes who are now climate refugees. These numbers, if we do not take actions that preserve our environment, will keep rising at frightening rates.

These are people who had it all. Jobs, community, stability… and they lost everything. 

Climate refugees across the country will and are looking for new homes in safer areas. Michigan and Holland, which face lesser climate impacts, will be a popular destination. 

We need to prepare to provide for these individuals. And we need to do our part to prevent the worst impacts on our climate from becoming a reality.

This year Holland’s city council will move forward with a new community energy plan. 

This plan will span three to five years. Do I need to remind you of the ten year timeline that scientists are pleading we heed?

The clock is ticking. Ticking loudly. Holland needs a plan with more renewable energy. We need a plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. We need a plan that cuts greenhouse emissions in half by 2030.

Take Action

Our city leaders are making decisions for our city at this most crucial time for our environment. And for our safety and future. 

Let them know where you stand. 

Sign the Holland Climate Collaborative Petition.

Register for a “Climate Voter” Yard Sign*

Let’s create a plan for Holland that provides our children and grand-children’s with strong futures.

*Sign up for the email list and check the box that says, “I would like a yard sign.”

Shanley Smith is a life long Hollander, currently working with WMEAC as the HCC intern. Through community organizing and writing she strives to make her hometown a greener place. More of her work can be found on Dimly Lit, where she serves as writer and editor.

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