Linn County hires Tamara Marcus as its first sustainability program manager

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Tamara Marcus — Linn County photo

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has hired Tamara Marcus as the county’s first sustainability program manager.

Marcus is a Ph.D. candidate in the Natural Resources and Earth System Sciences program at the University of New Hampshire. “Her research interests include using bioinformatic techniques to understand the impact of warming on microbial mediation of carbon emissions from Arctic lakes,” according to a Linn County news release. “Additionally, she studies how indigenous communities access weather and climate data to better understand how to make results from climate research more accessible and applicable to individuals and communities.”

In the course of her academic career, Marcus has been named a Switzer fellow, a NASA New Hampshire Space Grant fellow, a National Center for Atmospheric Research fellow and a Fulbright scholar. The Fulbright funding allowed Marcus to conducted climate change research in the Himalaya Mountains in India.

Marcus is also active in community affairs in Linn County, and is one of the co-founders of the grassroots group Advocates for Social Justice. ASJ has organized protests against police violence in Cedar Rapids and worked with the city on plans for police reform, as well as organizing derecho relief efforts and other community projects in Cedar Rapids.

In her new role, Marcus will lead the county’s efforts toward a “more sustainable present and future,” according to a news release sent out on Monday.

“Climate change is more than polar bears and ice caps, it means more intense storms, a greater number of catastrophic disaster events and billions of dollars of damage and lives lost,” Marcus said in a statement. “We must take swift action to cut our emissions, rebuild sustainably and provide adequate services for climate adaptation, especially for our most vulnerable communities. I look forward to putting my skills to work in Linn County.”

ASJ co-founders Leslie Hauskins (left), Tamara Marcus (right) and Nicole LeGrand (not pictured) have been organizing protests since June. Photo taken during the group’s July 18, 2020, protest in Greene Square Park. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

One of the first objectives is to complete a Greenhouse Gas Inventory with current emission levels. The inventory will be used to develop a climate action plan to meet the county’s seven targets that were adopted in December 2019 when the board declared a climate crisis.

• Decrease countywide CO2 emissions by 45 percent from the first recorded year’s levels by 2030 and achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050

• Decrease countywide methane and black carbon emissions by 35 percent from the first recorded year’s levels by 2050

• Increase renewables to account for 100 percent of electricity generation in Linn County by 2050

• Decrease coal-generated electricity in Linn County to 0 percent by 2050

• Decrease industry CO2 emissions in Linn County by 90 percent from the first recorded year’s levels by 2050

• Increase the Linn County transport sector’s share of low-emission final energy to 65 percent by 2050

• Commit to carbon dioxide removal efforts that allow the county to achieve net zero CO2 emissions in 2050

Marcus will provide updates on progress and believes communication “will be critical in educating the public on the urgent need to address climate change as well as to receive feedback on what communities need most to support the transition to a more sustainable Linn County,” according to the news release.

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