Like so many of you who care deeply about our world, I’ve been struggling both emotionally and intellectually to adjust to the results of this week’s election. A decade ago I decided that advocating for our planet’s climate was the most important work I could do. I was a budding wildlife biologist, but I wasn’t satisfied as solely a scientist, so I turned my love for wildlands and wild creatures toward policy and conservation. Over these last ten years I’ve spoken with thousands of Montanans, explaining the science and the urgent need for climate action to save the birds, the fish, the vulnerable, and the fraying fabric that holds this planet together. And yet my efforts, together with all the other authentic and creative voices, fell short this time. Climate issues, the biggest threat to humanity, got nary a mention during this Presidential election. We did not vote to save the climate and ourselves. We chose a dangerous track at the worst possible time.
In the wake of this election, I feel even more strongly about the choice I made ten years ago. The tonic for our despair is action. With federal efforts now promising to drive us backward; local, community efforts will be more important than ever. The choir is already converted. Now’s the time for the choir to sing louder, to expand our reach to our neighbors, friends, and relatives, and to engage in building the community we want for all Missoulians.
In response to this new political landscape, we at Climate Smart Missoula intend to focus on the possible and forge boldly ahead; shrinking our carbon footprint, preparing for more wildfires and hotter summers, and helping our most vulnerable citizens. With data we’ve just tabulated that shows energy use for Missoula residents, we’re challenging this community to shrink that energy use 10% in one year. We’ll soon be announcing the specifics needed to make this vision a reality. We’ll track our savings in the fossil fuels we did not burn. We’ll work with solar installers to get those arrays on houses. We’ll help weatherize low-income homes. We’ll plant trees and protect our open space and wildlands.
We need you: nurses, arborists, musicians, story tellers, poets, skiers, scientists, chefs, bankers, and chicken farmers. We need your financial support to pay the rent. We need your hands and your hearts, your creativity, laughter, compassion and hopefulness. There has never been a more important time to work for a better world.
Lend us your ideas so we can flesh this plan out. Let’s be smart. Let’s do it fast. Let’s make it bold. Let’s do it together. We can be a beacon of light to the rest of Montana and our country. The world feels broken at the moment, but remember the words of Leonard Cohen, who left us this sad week: “There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. “
Full speed ahead.
Director, Climate Smart Missoula