In recent months, I have come to notice an interesting shift in the news coverage of climate change. Stories have moved away from debating its scientific merits and causes, toward accepting it as a reality. In fact, most coverage has focused on the current and future impact of climate change as well as coping strategies.
Take for example the following headlines: "19 schemes to survive climate change," "Climate change puts our military bases at risk," and "Your children’s Yellowstone will be radically different." This shift suggests, at least to me, that as a society we have finally accepted that the climate is changing, and humankind is the cause. Though I would generally prefer that we collectively focus our efforts on preventing rather than accepting it as an inevitability, I view this as a positive development. The first step to solving any problem, is recognizing the problem exists.
As a father of three wonderful children, it is clear to me that taking action against climate change is a moral imperative. Those who are willing and able to think beyond the present, and who are selfless enough to act on behalf of future generations, know that the time to make a difference is extremely limited. I’m reminded of my grandfather, who arrived in Normandy, D-Day plus two. He didn’t join the fight, at age 17 no less, because he expected to get rich. He did it because it was the right thing to do; it needed to be done. I am now convinced that the risk climate change poses to our children and grandchildren will dwarf any threat humanity has faced before.
As a kid, my dad used to say to me, Craig, your problems are like mountains. You can climb over, go around, or tunnel through it. You can never just stand still and do nothing. Until recently, I think most folks have been waiting on the federal government to lead the charge against climate change up over, around, or through the mountain. But it’s clear Uncle Sam’s current interest is in removing the mountaintop and mining its coal. The cavalry isn’t coming. We need to lead the charge.
Though we are now experiencing the increasingly impactful effects of a changing climate, such as unprecedented heat, flooding, and wildfires, I remain more determined – and encouraged – than ever. Every day I see more selfless leaders, particularly from private industry and local government, leading our way to a brighter future.
For example, look no further than our own back yard. The city of Cincinnati has developed a plan consisting of 80 strategies aimed to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by the year 2050. Separately, a group of local professionals worked for a full year to launch a 2030 District in Cincinnati. Several founding members of this district have made an aggregated commitment to reducing their building’s energy use, water consumption, and transportation emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030.
Site Selection Magazine, a publication covering real-estate and economic development, has named Cincinnati the Most Sustainable Metro in the U.S., beating out Chicago, Boston, Seattle, and San Diego. In 2018, Fifth Third Bank signed a Power Purchase Agreement allowing them to achieve 100 percent renewable power consumption. Proctor & Gamble, the largest consumer products company in the world, has diverted 70 percent of its manufacturing waste from landfills; in two more years P&G will have achieved 100 percent diversion.
At Melink, we have just broken ground on our second Zero-Energy building, HQ2, located in Milford. And for me personally, I am in awe of my colleagues and the impact they’re making on a global scale. Every day I have the unique privilege of serving alongside some of the most passionate, best-at-what-they-do, group of professionals working in energy efficiency and renewable energy today.
While there’s no silver bullet for combating climate change, saving the future will be the culmination of many collective efforts from men, women, and children who are committed to changing the world. Though we should pay attention to the buzz around climate doom and gloom, we shouldn’t worry about it. Instead, let’s take action where we have an opportunity to make a difference.
Someone far wiser than myself once said, "Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders… carry the weight of your world on your shoulders." If each of us acts to preserve our world, and we maintain faith in one another, the collective impact will far outweigh the risks we face. Therefore, I choose to believe that our children and grandchildren will have an exceptionally bright future.