Letter to the editor: My first year as an environmentalist

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The Iowa City Climate Rally crowd heads to the Senior Center to get out of the rain and listen to nearly 20 speakers. Saturday, April 29, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

By Charlene Lange

To the future generation: It has been one year since I starting writing to you. One year ago I saw the Northern Lights in Canada. It was awesome and depressing. I saw the lights and learned the effects of global warming on a community. I changed from a denier of climate change to a believer. We have a beautiful world but it is changing. But what can I do?

So I started researching. Floods, forest fires, storms, droughts, heat-related illnesses, mosquito-borne diseases and CO2 increasing in volume and strength. Pipelines under the ground. Undrinkable water. Plastic in the oceans. Climate refugees. Ecosystems disappearing. Farmers in jeopardy. And then I talked to my former coworker Donnie. I asked what is more important to work on: saving land, water, air, ocean or people. He said all are. Why not do it all?

So I did. Learning, researching, joining and writing. Reading about other countries’ programs. Eating meatless meals. Giving money to refugees, wildlife funds and ocean clean-up. Combining trips. Adjusting thermostat again. Going solar. Stop buying single-use plastics. Giving eco gifts. Air drying clothes. Joining groups working on various issues. Signing petitions. Recycling. Reusing…

I found hope for our beautiful world. Found countries enacting eco policies. Found inventors creating ways to reduce plastics and take plastics from oceans. Found educators teaching actions we can take to save our resources. Found writers giving solutions to climate change. Found fisherman, farmers and outdoorsmen talking with environmentalists. Found Republicans and Democrats submitting a bill called Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and a proposal called the New Green Deal.

There is no app to push to fix the problems. I cannot give you statistics on the impact I am having. It’s like saving for retirement. Every day you delay, it hurts, but when you start, it helps. I have just recently started and I am helping now. I know I can look you in the eyes and say I am doing and trying. There is much to be done. It is the right thing to do. This blue dot called Earth is so beautiful. I want it for you, the future generation.

Charlene Lange is a retired school teacher working on making this beautiful world available for her grandkids and great grand kids.

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