Tag Archives: Greening the Statehouse

It’s Not Easy Being Green

I recently received an email announcing this year’s “Greening the Statehouse” event sponsored annually by the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Greening the Statehouse will be held at the IMMI Conference Center in Westfield, Indiana on November 16th. The day will be filled with informative panels, presentations, and a keynote address all focused on solutions to the climate crisis. As you may recall, GTS is a full day that also includes a light breakfast and lunch. You can learn more at www.hecweb.org/gts

In my more optimistic moments, I think Americans are finally taking environmental concerns–notably, climate change–seriously. It is past time to do so.

I’ve followed the work of organizations like the Hoosier Environmental Council, and shared the dismay of rational people as we’ve watched the current administration not only block progress, but gleefully regress.

I know I’ve written this before, but the climate calculation is simple.

What will happen if the 97% of climate scientists who warn about climate change are proven wrong (or, as conspiracy theorists would have it–plotting to fool us for some mysterious reason), and we nevertheless listen to them?

What if we proceed to clean up our air and water, improve conservation and move to cleaner energy sources–and then find out that all those scientists were wrong?

In that case, we’ll be “stuck” with a healthier, cleaner environment–air our children and grandchildren can breathe and water they can drink; cheaper and more reliable energy sources, and fewer pesticides in our foods. Bummer. True, the bottom lines of fossil fuel companies will shrink, and they might lose some of the 60 billion dollars in yearly subsidies we taxpayers provide them, but those are the breaks in a market economy.

On the other hand, what if all those climate scientists are right, and we follow what passes for policy in the Trump administration–“saving” coal, subsidizing fossil fuels, failing to clean up our waterways, rolling back air pollution standards…and issuing warnings that wind turbines cause cancer?

In that case, we’ll hasten the time the earth can no longer support human life, at least not human life and civilization as we know it.

This “risk to reward” ratio seems like a no-brainer to me, and I am cautiously optimistic that most people are getting the message. The children certainly are–and it may be the children who save us. Greta Thunberg, the remarkable Swedish teenager, minced no words at the recent climate action summit in New York, telling world leaders “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” She accused them of ignoring the science behind the climate crisis, saying: ‘We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth – how dare you!”

Can we dare to hope that at least some of them were listening to her? Can we dare to hope that enough of us are working on voter turnout in 2020–turnout that will dislodge the corrupt and incompetent Trump Administration and install a scientifically-literate one in its place? Can we dare to hope that a majority of earth’s population has come to understand the magnitude–and imminence–of the threat?

I’m writing this in Indiana, where temperatures were in the nineties the first week of October.

If you can, go Green the Statehouse.


Coal Ash Isn’t Sexy

One of the big problems with contemporary policy debates is that many of the most important issues we face are technical, complicated and definitely not sexy. A disproportionate number of environmental issues fall into that category.

But just because an issue isn’t easy doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a significant impact on our everyday lives. That’s why everyone who lives in Central Indiana and has the time should plan to attend Greening the Statehouse, Indiana’s largest annual gathering of environmental advocates, on Saturday, November 14th, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the University of Indianapolis.

Greening the Statehouse will be keynoted this year by Lisa Evans; I’m told she is America’s most influential advocate for coal ash protections. According to the Hoosier Environmental Council,

Coal ash has special significance for Indiana, since the state leads the nation in the number of coal ash waste lagoons. There is arguably no person better in America to speak to this issue than Lisa Evans. As a coal ash expert with twenty-five years of experience in hazardous waste law, Lisa has testified before the U.S. Congress and the National Academies of Science about the risks of coal ash and federal & state policy solutions.

“Lisa Evans will be an amazing keynote speaker: She is a formidable combination of intellect, knowledge, passion, and heart. We believe that hearts and minds will be changed by her remarks – so important for a state that must grapple with risks posed by having the largest number of coal ash lagoons in America,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Greening the Statehouse will also be an opportunity to learn about other (not-so-sexy-but-really-important) environmental issues. Panels will tackle food systems, the quality of our rivers and lakes, and the economic impact of climate change. A former (very good!) student of mine will talk about the role of Chambers of Commerce in fostering environmental sustainability.

High profile panelists include ExactTarget co-founder and Tyner Pond owner Chris Baggott, Vice President of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce Mark Fisher, and Purdue professor & nationally-respected water expert Dr. Jane Frankenberger.

Registration for Greening the Statehouse is $25 general admission and $10 for students. To register, visit hecweb.org/gts15. Lunch will be provided.

Breathable air, swimmable rivers, drinkable water….the things that make “sexy” possible.