3 Ways to Engage in Missoula and Beyond

Photo by Lara Tomov

Photo by Lara Tomov

The scale of the climate crisis is overwhelming. Polar ice caps are melting. Wildfires and storms are more intense. Flooding is more common. Since a scientific consensus about the negative impact of climate change on our planet was reached in 1979, we haven’t found a way to address the existential threat climate change presents to life on Earth.

Young people are organizing to address the paralysis of previous generations. Their efforts reveal the systemic power imbalance that led to an intolerable status quo. To change course now, we must take public action in three ways:

1. Engage our elected representatives.

Mayor John Engen, City Council members, County Commissioners, Montana state legislators and legislators at the federal level have the ability to provide oversight and boundaries for business interests that cause climate change. They can also incentivize positive developments.

In Missoula, Mountain Line recently invested in electric buses, while remaining free across their entire service area. This dual investment in environmental and economic sustainability for all Missoulians is exactly the type of action that should be taken to reach climate justice.

Working with Climate Smart Missoula, the City of Missoula and Missoula County have resolved to 100% clean energy by 2030. Missoula’s mayor, City Council members and County Commissioners are starting talks with representatives from Northwestern Energy to reach that goal. We support our elected representatives in these talks and encourage them to take a strong stance against business-as-usual. We hope this type of resolution spreads to other Montana communities.

2. Engage our local energy provider.

In Missoula, Northwestern Energy provides electricity to residences and businesses. While some of the power for our electricity comes from renewable resources, our electric grid still relies on burning coal and other harmful sources. As Northwestern Energy customers, we need them to transition to sustainable sources of energy. This transition needs to be just. While Northwestern Energy transitions to clean energy, they must transition their current workforce to the green economy, as well. Soon, we will be asking Montanans to submit comments on their revised procurement plan (how they plan to get energy for the next 20 years). Join our email list to receive notification of when to submit comments.

3. Take individual agency: plant a tree, ride a bike or take the bus, and eat less meat.

While we work toward systemic change to bring climate justice to our community, we can practice small acts of resistance. Against the overwhelming challenge of the climate crisis, choosing to take action through daily choices combats the depressing sense that any effort is futile.

Small choices can lead to unseen ripple effects. When we’re planting a tree, arriving to work or school on a bike or choosing to skip meat at dinner, we open up the possibility to discuss our choices with others. Through civil dialogue with friends, coworkers and family members, we can shift the larger conversation about the climate crisis. We can live our values, and address the larger structural forces that led to the crisis in the first place.

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