By Heather L. Bain
WE Team Coordinator, Environment Committee
The American people are in the unenviable position of determining best courses of action to help protect our environment and safeguard not only our country’s natural resources but also our planet from the impact and effects of climate change in an era where our Federal Government not only challenges the science of its existence but has also appointed people to serve in key positions where they can reverse course and unwind much of the progress so many have worked decades to achieve in this regard.
Fortunately for us, there are many organizations well positioned to help us tackle this challenge. Today I highlight one of them- The Sierra Club. As the Sierra Club’s website notes, “Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters. Our successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. More recently, we’ve made history by leading the charge to move away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy. For more information on the Sierra Club, please take a look at their Mission Statement and Strategic Plan Overarching Visionary
The Sierra Club’s Executive Director, Michael Brune, wrote in a recent blog post that their legendary founder, John Muir, was quite aware there will always be people willing to put greed and self-interest a head of the greater good and make wrong or inappropriate choices regarding the nation’s natural resources. Brune went on to write:
“The irony is that Pruitt [Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA] is correct when he says we don’t need to sacrifice jobs or the economy to protect the environment. After all, jobs in the solar sector are growing at 12 times the rate of the rest of the economy; there are four times as many solar workers as coal miners. But we still have to make choices. The health of the economy, for instance, will depend on whether we choose to invest in achieving 100 percent renewable energy, choose to upgrade our power grid, choose smart transportation solutions, and choose reduce the danger of climate change. If we truly care about jobs, then instead of obliging “despoiling gainseekers,” we should choose to help workers make the transition from polluting fossil-fuel industries to the renewable future. And always, always, we should choose to protect public health — which is not only the right thing to do but also makes economic sense”.
There is no doubt that we are, in many ways, in for some very challenging times ahead particularly when it comes to safeguarding our environment and addressing climate change. The good news is, however, that we have also seen success driven by the power of people united! We have observed a shift in thinking in Washington about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act as a result of a growing and vocal opposition to this idea demonstrated in rambunctious Town Hall meetings which many members of Congress led over the recent Congressional break. We have also witnessed both public and legal success against the ill-conceived Executive Order compelling an unconstitutional travel ban from seven primarily Muslim countries. These lessons must now be applied to our vigorous defense of nature and the environment.
We must speak out against the repeal of regulations previously put in place to maintain clean air, clean water, well-preserved land and natural resources. We must remain united and visible in these efforts as it has become clear that our fragile democracy simply cannot flourish on auto-pilot. We, the American People, must be ever vigilant, vocal and active in an effort to protect and perpetuate this grand experiment called democracy and live in a country that reflects all our values and serves all the people, not just the ones with money and influence.