Margaret Vernon

We must make this fight our prime raison d’etre – reason for being -- here in our world at this time. For we are in danger of losing not only all human life, but also most life on our beautiful planet.

My husband Jon and I first heard about the nightmare of climate change more than ten years ago.  We had the good fortune of hearing from Bill McKibben—an environmentalist, an author, a leader of the climate change advocacy group 350.org, a scholar at Middlebury College.  He spoke about the scientific warnings of climate warming, shared the need to dramatically decrease the burning of fossil fuels and to replace them with energy conservation practices, shared the need for clean, renewable energy sources. We are in danger--in danger not only of losing all human life on our beautiful planet, but also most of the life on earth. A nightmare in the most extreme.

One of the groups we’ve become active in as a result of our awakening to the threat of climate change is the Indianola Sustainability Committee.  This committee is in touch with the Indianola City Council as well as the Indianola Municipal Utilities. These entities have been part of organizing an annual Sustainability Fair with the committee.  The city council has helped the committee and others bring the Grow Solar program to Indianola and Warren County.

The Grow Solar program is organized by The Nature Conservancy and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to incentivize Iowans (and others) to put solar on their buildings or property. The program works by educating people about the benefits of solar before connecting them with a reputable solar installer who commits to a ‘bulk buy’ with accompanying lower rates for those who want solar installed.

This project and those like it are important because Iowa’s percentage of electricity from solar is only ¼ of 1%. If we want to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, we’re going to have to increase this percentage. I believe we can because there’s so much support in Iowa for other renewable energy such as wind power.  In 2019, Iowa’s percentage of electricity from wind was 42%.

This work to increase our state and country’s share of renewable energy usage won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, upgrading our electric grid to use more renewables could save an estimated $2 trillion in saved energy costs and better reliability – over 4 times the cost of such upgrades. Together, we can work to convince our state and federal representatives that such a change in our economy is worth pursuing. That the alternative – the nightmare of climate change – is worth avoiding at any costs.

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I’ve always loved the out-of-doors. It’s a joy to be able to spend time with my husband, Jon, caring for our yard and exploring our state and county parks with their many trees, occasional lakes, and meandering streams or rivers. Now that we’re full into spring, it’s hard not to see the beauty in nature and the connection between the earth and a calling to help care for it.

Because of this love and this calling, I’ve felt driven to work for environmental causes. Jon and I have spent several years working with our community’s Indianola Green Team to educate others in Indianola about the need to replace fossil fuels with clean energy and conservation measures.  With this committee, we have also made numerous contacts with our governmental representatives at all levels.

I’ve found much inspiration in Jim Antal’s book, Climate Church, Climate World – How People of Faith Must Work for Change.  Antal said of the church at large: “Our task is to embrace our generation’s challenge as a Kairos moment. ... As urgent as our (climate) crisis is, God offers us the courage we need to address the greatest moral challenge humanity has ever faced. With God’s help, we can do this together.”

Shortly after going to a seminar with Jim Antal, several in our church rekindled our “Trinity Green Team”, donated money to install LED lighting in most of the church, planted a pollinator garden next to the church, and best of all-- our pastor started preaching about climate change and our call to be in the fight for our future.

Local actions such as these are extremely important. Every one of us can make a difference, and we can make a difference at our state and national levels too by holding our representatives accountable. For that reason, I look at political candidates through the lens of their commitment to working – first and foremost – to finding solutions to the climate change crises. The problems the world is experiencing related to the coronavirus has given us a small sampling of what climate change has in store for us in the near future.  We must make this fight our prime raison d’etre – reason for being -- here in our world at this time. For we are in danger of losing not only all human life, but also most life on our beautiful planet.

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