Minnesota’s Terrible Air: What to Do?

The sun obscured by clouds and filtered by smoke from a wildfire in Canada, photo taken in NYC. The sun is a very strong red color.
The sun obscured by clouds and filtered by smoke from a
wildfire in Canada. Photo by Gedalya Lubman, licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Most coverage of our recent air quality emergencies has been “news you can use”: stay indoors, close your windows, limit your exercise, and so on. While such advice is fine, this discourse – if exclusive – perpetuates a bad idea: the disaster that affects us personally must have personal solutions. This is not true. The problem is political.

This year’s Canadian wildfires are caused and worsened by human beings. Climate change has caused drought. Our dwellings have encroached on forested areas. We’ve planted fewer fire-tolerant trees. Even the rising frequency of lightning strikes is related to climate change.

We face a big problem, coming on fast. And the news we can use is how to stem its cause. Here’s an idea:

  • Start movement-building. Talk to your friends and acquaintances about your climate concerns. They probably agree with you: 70% of Americans think we should do more about climate change. This is a huge number, and the urgency of Americans’ concerns is not matched by governmental action. So,
  • Give the people you talk to specific things to do on personal, local, state, and national levels. For example, to reduce carbon-fueled transportation:

You can invite people to write letters, call or email their representatives, talk to others about the steps they are taking, and join in actions big and small to spread the word. Odds are almost three to one that they agree with you, and only need an invitation to start making a stink.

Where to start? Pick your issue: look at the chapter’s website for issues and opportunities, and start pushing. All we have is our voices. We can raise them.