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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kay Gee

Trees, Winds and Climate Resiliency: How to Save Ourselves from Deadly Weather

On Easter Sunday, tornadoes and terrible storms beat down houses in Tuscaloosa with high winds howling in the distance. I was very scared. The rains were torrential. Mom was with me and we were undecided about leaving for the shelter at the McDonald Hughes Center. All of a sudden, we heard a large BOOM in the back of our house that would send us packing and moving to a smaller location. A tree hit the house and the repairs would take time.

Why do we have so much rain that floods our streets and rivers more so than before? Our Earth has been warming due to the massive increase of our fossil fuel use.

Global warming and climate change have been politically charged, especially in the American South. Alabamians have had structural damage to their houses and many of our homes are not climate resilient. Climate resilience is the ability to adapt to the change in our climate and weather. Many of us are the working poor with no ability to make our residences and businesses adaptable to the sharp shifting of the weather conditions. The poorer one is, the harder it becomes to bounce back from an F4 tornado or a massive flooding event.

As an educator, I want our citizens to understand that climate change and global warming is not some political ploy or abstract thought. All of us are impacted, directly or indirectly.

The good news is our ecosystem is designed to correct itself from massive negative impacts, even climate change. The scientific consensus is global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2030 and reduced by 100% by 2050. We can switch to hybrid models and electric cars in the future. We could also improve alternate modes of transportation, such as busing, carpooling, bike shares (please create bike lanes), and more sidewalks for pedestrians to walk to work or the grocery store.

Clean, green energy is the future. As a co-leader for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan organization that supports bipartisanship in climate change policy, I support the passage of the "Energy Innovation Act." This is a market-based approach using a refundable fee on fossil fuels at the source (coal mine, gas/oil rigs) with a border adjustment feature. It would increase the cost of fossil fuels yearly. As the price of fossil fuels increases, households (with their rebate check) will be encouraged to increase their energy efficiency, for example by investing in solar panels or a hybrid or electric car.

I encourage our communities to become a part of environmental organizations that advocate for climate change policy.

Your house just might be saved from getting hit by a tree.

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