By DIANA HITCHEN
It’s snowing! Even if, by chance, it’s not actively coming down as you read this, it is likely that your life has been focused around snow for the past month with daily snow removal, challenging road travel, and excellent skiing. Caught up in all this work and fun, climate change may have moved to the backburner of your mind, in stark contrast to the drought years when we worried that it may never snow again in Tahoe.
Those of us concerned about climate change know storms like these are not an indication that climate change is a myth. Climate is concerned with long-term trends, not weather, and the trends are clear. This wonderful community of Truckee is ahead of the curve on climate awareness, conscious consumerism, and local policy, but many of us whose livelihoods and personal passions rely on snowpack still feel helpless. Not long ago I felt this way, but my view has shifted since becoming politically involved. Sure, I’d rather ski with my friends than call my congressperson, but guess what? You can do both!
A recent New York Times article echoed my opinion. “Conscious consumption is a cop-out, a neoliberal diversion from collective action, which is what is necessary,” the article stated. “People should try to live by their own values, about climate as with everything else, but the effects of individual lifestyle choices are ultimately trivial compared with what politics can achieve.” Making sacrifices that may not make a difference had me feeling depleted and defeated. Sound familiar? Taking political action is the remedy to this affliction.
Conveniently, politics is suddenly on fire with climate change! This past November, Congress put forward the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. The bipartisan bill will put a price on carbon pollution and return the proceeds to the pockets of Americans. This policy has been heavily researched and is not only the most effective way to curb emissions, but also touts substantive economic and social benefits. On Feb. 7, the Green New Deal, a set of proposed economic stimulus programs that aim to address climate change and economic inequality, was proposed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and is rapidly gaining popularity with the public.
These solutions are hot and fresh on the table, making it an exciting time to engage and be a part of the transition to clean energy. So, here’s what you can do: Write a letter to your member of Congress asking them to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. If you are a business owner or community leader, you can go to energyinnovationact.org/endorse and endorse the act yourself. A great way to easily keep up with these policies is by connecting with Protect Our Winters. They do the research for you and send occasional action opportunities that truly push policy in the right direction. I also recommend joining Citizens Climate Lobby’s North Tahoe Chapter for our next monthly meeting, Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m. at the Truckee Tahoe Airport building.
My perspective has shifted from anxiety about climate to gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of this amazing transition that is happening over my lifetime. I encourage you to view your contribution not as a grim duty, but as a satisfying act of expression and joy, you know, like powder skiing. And I leave you with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, as spoken at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: “Cherishing our precious Earth — falling in love with the Earth — is not an obligation. It is a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival.” Sounds good to me.
~ Diana Hitchen grew up in Berkeley and now calls Truckee home. As a climber, skier, and hydrologist, she spends a lot of time outdoors. Hitchen is a member of Citizens Climate Lobby, and deeply believes that an essential part of being an outdoor enthusiast is protecting what we love.