WEB Editorial: Facing the climate threat head on

Lucas Bleyle, Co-Editor in Chief

At the beginning of the month six hundred and thirteen Ames High students signed a petition asking for the school district and Ames community to take climate action. As a WEB staff we wanted to add our voices to this overwhelming call for action. The reality and scope of the climate change has been brought into sharper focus by two reports released this fall.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) October 8th report warned that, unless urgent and unprecedented action is taken the world will blow past 1.5 Celsius of warming. A warming of more than 1.5 C will result in global damage as a result of climate change by the end of the century. In order to not surpass 1.5, the IPCC suggests cutting emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

On November 23rd, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was released by the US Global Change Research program, a coalition of 13 federal agencies. They concluded that climate change is already affecting the US through more severe weather, and laid out predictions for climate affects in the coming decades. In the Midwest, and our home state, the assessment predicts crop yields could drop to 1980 levels, woefully short of feeding a growing population.

Mitigating climate change requires an urgent and concerted effort, but is ultimately attainable if pursued, with many positive benefits to society. Green energy is rapidly becoming cheaper and is competing more and more with fossil fuels. Economic prosperity and climate action are no longer mutually exclusive.

Georgetown, Texas, a city of 70,000 recently announced it was 100 percent renewable energy. The town overwhelmingly went for Trump is 2016 and Romney in 2012, revealing the true extent to which this is a bipartisan issue. Renewable energy offers stability into the future in a way that coal and natural gas does not, allowing the city to sign contracts that ensured price certainty 20-25 years into the future. Fighting climate change in many places simply makes the most economic sense, and doesn’t always necessitate burdensome regulation. In Ames, we are at a pivotal moment.

Two local developments have the potential to usher in a period of climate action. As of October, the Ames City Council approved a contract with RDG, a consulting firm that will help Ames create a comprehensive plan for the city. This document will set the vision of Ames over the next 15-20 years. In the next few years RDG will be looking for public input for visions of Ames, and it is important that the changing climate in included in that vision. Additionally, for the first time, the City Council will be discussing the prioritization of climate change as an agenda item. If established to be a high priority it has the potential to shift local policy.

In light of the recent reports, the developments happening on a local level, and the immense potential of green energy as well as the huge cost of inaction, Ames must work towards reducing emissions and mitigating climate change. Climate change will either be a unifying force that leads the world to greater prosperity and equality, or the force that will destroy us and our planet.