Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a startling report on the dire state of the environment, and the short amount of time (about 13 years to be exact) we have left before the atmosphere reaches irreversible levels of warming. Climate change is a moral and ethical issue, and we as Forest Parkers, a community of people raising children who will have to live through the global instability due the mistakes of past generations, have the duty to act. How? Among the many ways we can reduce our individual and collective carbon footprints, one of the most impactful ways Forest Park as a Village can make a difference is by going 100% renewable.  

Now, I may have lost some of you by line one at the phrase “change climate,” and I get it. Even with the dire news reports, it’s easy to get lost in the illusion that climate change is not occurring. Besides for the warmer fall weather, for the most part, we live in a part of the world that (as of now) seems pretty comfortable and safe from the effects of climate change. And that lack of dire threat to us in this moment makes it easy to continue going about our days as if nothing is wrong.

Here’s the thing: you and I are living in a fool’s paradise. While we gas up our cars and heat up our homes with emission-creating oil and gas, those in the Maldives face the very real possibility that the majority of their island will be underwater by the end of the century, whether or not we halt climate change. Still seem too far removed? Some of our favorite travel spots are listed as the most vulnerable to coastal flooding by 2050. Think New York and Miami, not to mention the increase in forest fires and droughts expected to hit California. 

More directly, according to the National Climate Assessment, for the Midwest “Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also exacerbate a range of risks to the great lakes.” And as the rest of the world shifts into water scarcity, all eyes will be on the Great Lakes.

So, what can we in our little village do? Start with our energy supply. Buildings emit 39% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, and we have the power to change our energy supply, both as individual households and as a town. Because Forest Park is so small, we have the opportunity to be leaders in the future of sustainability by becoming a 100% renewable town. Not only will we be contributing to the reversal of climate change, but sustainability is highly attractive for new homebuyers considering Forest Park as a permanent residence. Many cities, large and small, have make commitments to go 100% renewable, including Berkeley, California; Amherst, Massachusetts; Middleton, Wisconsin; Salt Lake City; and Portland, Oregon, just to name a few. While many options are available for your home, one great place to start is Arcadia Power (I have no affiliation).  I urge you to seriously consider switching your energy source, and to use your voice as a resident to tell our politicians that we want to move forward into a clean energy future. 

Lucia Whalen

Forest Park resident