By Gabrielle Duebendorfer
My husband and I went on a delightful five-day backpacking trip in the Cabinet Mountains last week. Different vegetation layers along the 3,000-foot elevation difference displayed glacier lilies just emerging from under the snow to blooming bear grass, yarrow and penstemon. Twelve feet of snow just over the pass had us turn around in the near dark and camp just below. The full moon made a gorgeous arch just above our beds, making for a delightful start in the solitude of the mountains. It was a perfect world up there.
What was off, though, was that the glacier lilies and penstemons — usually separated by a month or more — were blooming at the snowline at the same time. It was like the plants were trying to bloom and fruit as fast as possible before the heat got to them. On the way back down, it got progressively hotter, plants were wilting and my dog ran from shade cover to shade cover, almost colliding with a bear doing the same. We had some very refreshing dips in the river at the trailhead, but then had to face the heat wave at home without air conditioning and a very thirsty garden.
I was so elated with the peace and beauty of our trip that the last thing I wanted to hear was friends being deeply depressed about the well-being of animals and the forests due to the heat and climate change. My whole being contracted and I felt huge resistance to engage in that conversation. Yes, I could just hide out in my idyllic home in the woods or find refuge in the mountains or air-conditioned buildings. Or I could join and lament and add worsening heat waves to the long list of recent depressing events. Or I could appreciate what we do have and do my part in maintaining it as much as it is possible.
I just read an article about France dealing with a similar heat wave in 2003, with hundreds of people dying in Paris without air conditioning. Later, when Australia was burning up, it seemed like all these heat problems were far enough away. Now it is right at our own doorstep. I am dreading a repeat of several years ago when our area was the bullseye of smoke in the whole North American continent. It might be a 1,000-year heat wave anomaly, but these anomalies are starting to build up to a regularity. Globally, according to the recent National Geographic, the past six years have been the warmest ever recorded.
You don’t have to believe the evidence of climate change contributing to escalating heat waves to appreciate Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo’s plan to introduce the Energy Sector Innovation Credit (ESIC), which will give tax credits to companies that are investing in emerging technologies to solve climate change. He also cosponsored the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 (S.R. 1251), establishing environmental credit markets for farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners, which just passed the Senate. There is a flurry of other climate related bills on the table, all pieces to the big puzzle of climate solutions.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICFDA, or H.R. 2307) currently has 75 cosponsors and focuses on making “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 a reality by making clean energy affordable via support of energy innovation while putting money in ordinary Americans’ pockets — at the same time saving lives by reducing pollution.
Who could say no to that? This policy, a product of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), works by putting a fee on fossil fuels, which starts low, grows over time and gets allocated in equal shares every month for citizens to spend as they see fit. A border carbon adjustment protects U.S. manufacturers and jobs (learn more at eneryinnovationact.org).
The planet might very well be on a trajectory toward more frequent and intense heat waves that we all have to adjust to. However, we don’t have to hide in a beautiful place if we can afford to, nor do we have to disappear in pain and despair.
We all can do our part to encourage innovative energy solutions and not only clean up our air and water but hopefully also prevent the Earth from burning up. Please consider supporting H.R. 2307 by committing to CCL’s monthly calling campaign (cclusa.org/mcc) — even Idaho Republican Rep. Russ Fulcher will have to commit to climate solutions if he gets enough calls.
Locally we need volunteers with computer/social media and people skills. Please consider coming to the next CCL Sandpoint zoom meeting, Wednesday July 21, 4:30-5.30 p.m.
With this intense heat wave and fires looming we have the reality of climate change at our doorstep and, working together, we can influence our legislators. May this motivate us to do what we can to maintain hope and stabilize our climate so that we will still have forests and mountains to hike in that are fresh and green.
Gabrielle Duebendorfer is a naturopathic doctor and leads the Sandpoint chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.
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