Fourth of July is a day of celebrating independence and a time to reflect on what it means to have the freedom to stand up for what we believe in and to act on those beliefs.  At no other time in the history of humanity has our nation, and indeed our world, faced a greater challenge than the consequences of global warming.  The long-predicted effects of climate change and increased carbon dioxide in our atmosphere are playing out everywhere—from increased acidification affecting the oceanic roots of the food chain to extreme fire events extending longer throughout the season. The latter is of considerable, tangible detriment to our local economy, air quality, health and beloved wildlife.

Amid all the distressing news, it becomes easy to feel powerless and hopeless. Yet with crisis comes solidarity and determination, and that’s part of the collective story of why we celebrate the Fourth of July. So in the spirit of patriotism, whether it’s rallying against those who would do us harm or addressing the dangerous effects of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions faced by all humans everywhere, it’s time we “give a shift, make a shift and be the shift.” Small numbers of people alone perhaps can’t change much. But small numbers working to build a coalition of bigger numbers—perhaps even the majority of an entire community—can make an impact.

The Hailey Climate Action Coalition is a growing group of 30 people committed to doing just that: creating local solutions for the climate change challenge. This group is working to support and encourage the city of Hailey, other local governments, the business community and individuals to create and implement sustainable practices and policies that reduce energy consumption, waste and other greenhouse gas-emitting habits that contribute to local, regional and local environmental degradation.

Here are some small examples of shifts that you can make that not only help the environment, but save real dollars:

  • Take the bus once a week.
  • Bike to work.
  • Unplug the clothes dryer for the summer.
  • Eat less meat.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Bring reusable plate, fork and cup to par-ties. Party hosts send out email to BYOR, “There will be no plastic or paper.”

Finally, join us in the annual Fourth of July Parade! Decorate your bike, clothing, skateboard or other non-fossil-fuel movement facilitator and make a sign out of recycled paper indicating what shifts you’re committing to.  Simply look for the Hailey Climate Action Coalition electric vehicle and Mountain Rides’ electric bus at the parade staging area!  We hope to see you in parade!

The Hailey Climate Action Coalition is open to all and meets Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the Sage School in Hailey. Contact The more people join, the more impact we’ll have!

Mary Ellen O’Leary is a resident of Hailey.

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