This, however, is only one of many actions taken by Charlevoix on global warming. The citys leadership on this issue is also visible in their creation of a shade tree commission and the passage an idle-free motion that encourages drivers to shut off their engines when waiting for the drawbridge. Charlevoix is also part of a tree planting and stewardship program sponsored by National Arbor Day Foundation known as Tree City USA.
The potential for this citys role has been further bolstered by the solid research of concerned citizens and members of Water and Air Team Charlevoix (WATCH) who uncovered a six-year-old study which states that from Harbor Springs to Lansing, Charlevoix has the best potential for wind power.
Business and government leaders in Charlevoix are not alone in recognizing the urgent need for action: ski resorts here are purchasing wind power and the city of Marquette approved the Change a Light program to promote energy efficiency.
Indeed, there are towns and cities and entire states across our country that are stepping up to the plate in the face of federal inaction on global warming.
This is why we are demanding action on the federal level. Scientists who have been calling attention to the severity of global warming impacts for many years are now saying that we have the next 10 years to dramatically reduce our emissions if we have any hope of escaping the worst impacts of global warming.
The best intentions and efforts of cities in Michigan are not enough to tackle a problem of this magnitude. It is going to take real champions in Congress to begin to turn the tide.
Rep. Bart Stupak and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) are the leading Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and are well-positioned to help us protect the land that we love. But under that leadership, improvements for coal-fired power plants have been rescinded, fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles have not improved in 20 years, and renewable energy development has been underfunded.
Solutions, however, are at our representatives fingertips. Like the Charlevoix City Council, they too can take action by supporting the Waxman Safe Climate Act of 2006, which is science-based legislation that addresses the problem of global warming. This legislation would create a set of policies that would cut our emissions of greenhouse gases by setting a national renewable energy standard, increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings, and cutting pollution from our cars and light trucks. At the very least, Bart Stupak ought to pledge to support this legislation. Even better, he should commit to working with his colleagues in Congress to make this legislation a reality.
Regrettably, Rep. Stupak has issued claims that he is big on nuclear as a solution to global warming. This is quite a misstep because nuclear power cannot address global warming within a timeframe that is useful (it takes 10 to 20 years just to bring a plant online), and is not considered economically viable by Wall Street analysts. Reliance on nuclear power will also increase existing waste storage problems.
Northern Michigan is a region known for its beautiful snowy landscapes, its maple trees, ice hockey and great fishing. All of these may be nothing more than stories of a glorious past that we recount to our grandchildren unless we take our government back from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries and demand that our representatives lead the effort. Give your representative a call and ask for action immediately, and if you want to start to turn that tide yourself, in your home, or in your community, visit www.projecthotseat.org to see how you can get involved.
Mike Powers is an organizer for Hot Seat Michigan, a Greenpeace program to fight global warming.