What Can You Do

by Sandra Lindberg

© 2019 Sandra Lindberg

National Audubon recently posted an article about the threat to US birds posed by climate change. If climate change continues at its current pace in Macon County, 7 local species will be greatly threatened, and another 16 will find life increasingly difficult. Check out further specifics here: Survival by Degrees. It is estimated that US climate change will threaten the habitats needed by 10 state birds. They'll have to attempt 'relocation' or find themselves without a place to live. And as local birders know, species relocation is an iffy process. For more on habitat loss and climate change, see: American Bird Conservancy, Climate Change.
Ever wonder what you can do about what's happening?.
Climate change can feel like a distant problem when you live in a Midwest town or small city. Farmers in Central Illinois, though, have a harder time denying our climate has been powerfully altered. This year's heavy rains and cold temperatures delayed planting in some counties until June. Then a flooded Mississippi River shut down barge traffic for months, further hitting farmers and the companies with whom they work. After that, summer temperatures soared and stayed hot and humid well into September, affecting crop development. Our local economy is suffering the effects of climate change, whether we feel it in town or not.
At the most basic level, climate change is all about CO2 emissions that human activity has sent soaring. Even if we're able to cope with weather that's too cold, too wet, or too hot and humid, we all have the opportunity to work on decreasing the amount of CO2 going into the skies above us. Let's do what we can before climate change gets any worse for us, or the environment we care about.
Locally, there are important ways Decatur Audubon members can work on the CO2 problem. These collective actions will increase an individual's power to effect change.
On October 29th, hundreds of Illinois citizens participated in the Clean Energy Lobby Day in Springfield. Central Illinois environmental organizations scheduled a bus to take citizens from Champaign and Decatur to Springfield-for free. With legislators and Governor Pritzker seeing hundreds of citizens on the Capitol steps, the Community Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) has more chance of passing this fall or next. Decatur Audubon letters to Governor Pritzker, state congressmen and senators can further support the efforts of those who lobbied in Springfield.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) furthers the goals set by the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) voted into law in 2017. The Eco-Justice Collaborative sums up FEJA goals as,
FEJA accelerates the growth of renewable energy in Illinois, expands the state's energy efficiency goals to dramatically reduce electricity waste and lower bills, devotes $750 million to job training, includes community solar that will allow those who can't install solar panels directly on their own property to buy into projects built elsewhere; and funds the Illinois Solar for All Program with a focus on providing access to solar energy and jobs to low-income communities.
CEJA, which may come up for a vote this fall, will accomplish the following:
• Implement electricity market reforms to reduce power bills.
• Expand electric and gas efficiency programs.
• Take advantage of the falling cost of clean energy and put Illinois on a cost-effective path to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
• Remove the emissions equivalent of 1 million gasoline and diesel vehicles from Illinois roadways.
• Expand access to clean energy careers across Illinois.
Both FEJA and CEJA will reduce Illinois CO2 emissions, help to rein in climate change and work to safeguard the habitats needed by native flora and fauna. Decatur Audubon members don't have to participate in bird counts that record ever smaller bird populations with no hope of change. We can work to do our part to turn these numbers around.
Here in Macon County, citizens can write letters, emails and make calls to Mayor Moore-Wolfe, City Manager Wrighton and City Council members urging them to encourage community and municipal solar projects designed to access state funding. Go here for contact information. Residents can also attend Decatur City Council meetings Mondays at 5:30 in the Civic Center. November meetings will be on the 4th and 18th. View the meeting calendar here. The first 15 minutes of each meeting is set aside for citizen comments. Decatur Audubon members can offer 3 minute statements calling on local government to address climate change. Decatur qualifies for FEJA and CEJA solar start-up programs. We can let our government know we want the projects in our town.
Solar projects help to reduce CO2 in our skies. Less CO2 from our town combined with less in US towns across the country means we all do our part to protect the environment we treasure. We can call for laws and projects that keep bird populations, currently down 29% from the 1970's in North America, from continuing to decrease. Grassland birds, often part of the Central Illinois ecosystem, have decreased 53%! See more details here. Our efforts to promote solar energy can also help to protect pollinators and native plants. We know what we love. We can fight to protect it, too.

copyright 2019 Sandra Lindberg, all rights reserved

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