by Don Underwood, Republic

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” — Yogi Berra

We are now facing a critical choice in our shared future. Our expectations for decades concerning the economy, our society, and our daily lives will no longer be the future we have imagined for the Ozarks, our state and nation, our world. 

We can choose one of two paths: A conscious effort that reduces our dependency on heat-trapping carbon pollution and improves our world; or a lack of effort that results in a worse world for our children, grandchildren, and future generations. It is past time for us to make choices in our personal lives, communities and businesses, and government efforts.

Our personal lives

How we live our day-to-day lives does matter. We can choose to conserve energy and reduce demand as well as cut our utility bills. We can buy locally grown vegetables and fruits or grow our own (local farmers’ markets, Millsap Farms, Mama Jean’s Natural Market). We can find meat from farmers who are using regenerative agriculture practices that capture carbon and revives the topsoil (“Kiss the Ground”). We can move away from natural gas in our homes (gas stoves leak) and buy electric vehicles (automakers add EVs). And it matters whether we speak up in our communities and with whom we do business.

Our communities and businesses

We all face immediate concerns that may impact our pocketbooks. We have decisions to make on education, health care, and issues of justice in our society. But we should expect the ramifications of climate change to impact all of these areas for years and generations to come (“Parts of the planet will become uninhabitable”). We can’t stop the change that is underway, but we can mitigate the harsher impacts. To do that we must have conversations in our families, with neighbors, in fraternal meetings, at community gatherings, and within our faith groups (“Climate, faith, and hope”). 

The opportunities as well as the responsibilities for the business community are present and growing (“The fight against climate change is now in corporate hands”). We have tackled great challenges in our history. Now we face an evolving environmental crisis of immense proportions. That challenge can be met when we use a partnership of regulated free enterprise and government goal setting with supporting economic incentives.

Our government

Action is necessary. The challenge is global, but the solutions are local. Governmental policies can give us direction (“Michigan climate plan…”) to our goals. Our local building codes do matter (“Why The Building Sector?”) as well as actions in the Missouri General Assembly (“Cities step up to save $2.5B Midwest power line”).

Lawmakers and officials must know that we care. If you have never spoken to, called, or written a person in a position of influence, now is the time. We cannot wait for Washington, D.C., or Jefferson City to act. We must act individually and as a grassroots movement to demand action at all levels of government, in communities and businesses, and in our lives.