By Eliot Thompson
“Whereas, there is overwhelming scientific consensus that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere have a profound effect on the Earth’s climate…”
That’s the first line of a resolution I got to write back in early October that was just adopted less than an hour before writing this blog post on pi day, the most mathematically delicious day of the year (closely followed by November 23rd). The resolution, which you can read on Missoula County’s website here, calls for Missoula County to establish the goal of carbon neutrality for government operations by 2035, with an intermediate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2016 levels by 2025, and establishing a climate action team to create a climate action plan for the purpose of achieving the previously stated goals.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, this is my second year serving as an Energy Corps member with Missoula County, and that resolution is the reason my position exists and one of the reasons I stayed for a second term. Back in 2016, my predecessor was hired to create Missoula County’s first greenhouse gas emissions inventory for county operations. The end result of that, and the beginning of my first term of service, was a recommendation for a plan to cut that stuff out and slow down the polluting to a stop, or at least a really meandering and inefficient crawl.
But then I was told to wait, wait for the hiring of a new staff member. Spend the winter researching climate action plans. Do a little something here and a little something there instead. Figure out if we’re saving money on recycling and also where the recycling at that building goes and if that building even has a dumpster (We weren’t but did, I still don’t know, and no).
And then I thought, “Finally! “Now it’s time to get started.” We worked on some climate action targets and strategized how to accomplish those targets. We finally had something tangible and presented that…and then there was bitcoin and a noisy mining facility and angry residents. That kind of derailed everything. And then I thought “FINALLY!” But then we transitioned to climate adaptation. Don’t get me wrong—I enjoy planning for living with climate change. It’s already here and happening after all. However, it felt a bit weird getting the jump on adaptation before leaping into mitigation.
So we plugged away. It turns out there’s a lot of plugging that goes into planning for uncertainty, and specific climate effects for a relatively small piece of uneven land is a whole lot of uncertainty. And I waited and waited and got rejected by the Peace Corps and waited and waited some more.
So yeah, it’s March 14, and I got a shout-out at public meeting for contributing to this plan and at least two people have congratulated me. But tomorrow, I’m going to not work on climate mitigation at all.
Tomorrow is reserved for adaptation and vulnerability assessments and going grocery shopping and MAYBE washing some dishes. Next week I’ll tool around in the world of mitigation, but we’ll probably be doing more mitigation work later in April. Also, there’s still bitcoin.
But after a year and a half of waiting, I don’t feel like I’m waiting anymore. I’m just doing other things. I’m still getting stuff done, and it’s still all important, even washing my dishes. I don’t need to be doing the one, most important thing at this moment and all the time forever. That’s just what I want, and you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.