Editor’s note: This column will appear periodically and may be written by various residents.

By Melanie Lamaga


 Who Believes in Climate Change?

Just a bunch of tree-hugging, liberal snowflakes, right?

Well, maybe not. Groups like ConservAmerica and RepublicEn, and religious groups like the Catholic Climate Covenant, recognize the urgent need to address climate change. Pope Francis said there has “never been such a clear need for science” to guide human actions to safeguard the future of the planet.

About 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and human-caused. If 97 percent of the architects said your house was in danger of collapsing, would you want your grandchildren to live in it?

Even with more and more people recognizing that we have a problem, solutions are slow in coming. Many think it’s too late, too difficult or too depressing to deal with. At most, we might sign a petition or repost an article on Facebook and call it a rocking activist day.

Yep. I get it. Like you, I was born into a world that runs on fossil fuels. I need vehicles to run my business. I use power from the grid and buy goods shipped from distant places. And I’m busy. But, if this were one of those disaster movies where we wake up to find a comet hurtling toward Earth, none of that would matter.

Unfortunately, climate change is harder to see than a blazing rock of death … that is, until it’s your community devastated by super-storms, rising oceans or droughts. Imagine how heartbroken we’d be if Idyllwild became uninhabitable due to lack of water. Imagine how scared we’d be if we were joining a mass exodus of environmental refugees, all competing for dwindling resources.

If it’s Really that Serious …

Won’t world leaders fix it?

Sadly, there’s been a lot of talk, but not nearly enough accomplished. The last three years were the warmest on record. The U.N. warned that unless nations ramp up their carbon-reduction pledges before 2020, it will be nearly impossible to keep warming to 2 degrees — the limit scientists estimate to be safe.

Less than three years to stop that blazing comet. Are we awake yet?

The Good News is…

The technology and roadmaps to convert each state in the U.S. to clean energy already exist. If we embrace this challenge, it could create jobs, lower costs and make us energy independent.

We have the ability (and the responsibility) to demand results from our elected officials. We can choose to make the necessary sacrifices, as people did, say, during World War II. Reducing our carbon footprint, as individuals and communities, is the 21st century’s version of the Victory Garden.

The climate crisis can be averted, but we must act decisively and quickly — out of love for biodiversity and for the generations to come.

In that spirit, a few of your neighbors have started a nonpartisan group with the goal of educating ourselves and this community about climate change, and ways to address it. If you’re interested in joining us or in receiving updates, contact us at [email protected] or [email protected].

Melanie Lamaga has a Bachelor of Science in Photography from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, and an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University.