(#331) – The current cold snap of several days of chill factors at minus 32 degrees is a reminder that climate change is a new economic factor in our personal and community economy. Thousands of our neighbors are suffering from frozen pipes and insufficient funds to do the necessary level of weather protection. Public funds are stretched to the limit and we can no longer have any confidence in predicting what lies ahead.
How hot will it be later on this year, how much rain, how many floods, how much more will we need to budget for the pot holes that are ravaging our roads and causing millions in vehicle repair.. We know the cost of living is going up without an increase in the quality of life and we can predict that income for most of us will not rise to match it.
The fact is that the right to a secure life for a majority of us is becoming unavailable. Climate change caused by human choices about economic life is forcing a change in our relationship with the natural world at ever greater cost and loss. In other words, we are afflicted by life revolutionary change of our own doing, We cannot win a sustainable future against such forces without changing direction.
Public funds and more personnel are needed to provide the resources to reverse the direction of social reality in our region. Upgrading our building codes and commitment to weatherization, energy efficiency, clean, renewable energy generation and a robust public education program to make the facts about the challenges and the opportunities for mitigation and adaptation, are essential first steps
A second arena for immediate attention is the conditions we establish on a case by case basis for the economic development projects we approve. Billions will be spent in our communities for the first time in our history in the next few years.
Negotiations are already in progress about who and what will be approved and on what terms.
Two actions are necessary. There must be a greater increase in local benefit required both in project design and operation of many of the proposed projects. Second, greater attention must be given to existing and potential enterprise that can serve us in the most exemplary ways.
One example is collaboration with Amy’s Kitchen, a $95,000,000 organic food processing plant that is known for doing as much local food sourcing as possible.
Here is opportunity to anchor a major recruitment of new local food producers that can supply this company as well as our schools, tourist and food enterprises, with nutritious food. Local government as well as educational and service institutions should give a high priority to forging relationships with this company and to the recruitment and training of new food producers.
The forces of nature and unprecedented economic development must be met with new directions, priorities and support for a sustainable society for our families. It is essential that we have a much wider public discussion of the governance of the major change in the character of Sullivan County that is upon us.