Kurt Friese’s second book, Chasing Chiles (co-authored with Gary Nabhan and Kraig Kraft) used heirloom chile peppers as a lens through which to view the here-and-now effects of global warming. Because chiles are so prolific and promiscuous, they adapt quickly, and make an excellent “canary in the coal mine.” The book drives home the point: anthropogenic climate change is real, and it’s here now – not in some distant future.
One might think that issues like global warming are beyond the purview of local government, but the bumper sticker is true: THINK GLOBALLY – ACT LOCALLY. In December of 2017, Johnson County was among the first in the country to commit to the Paris Climate Accord despite the president's misguided decision to withdraw from it.
While of course it is unwise to connect any given weather event directly to climate change, the trends we have witnessed here in Johnson County over the last couple of decades lead to one unmistakable conclusion: The impact is now, and it’s not just for low-lying coastal cities. This is affecting us all.
From a story in The Guardian:
"The diversity of risks – and vulnerable populations – made climate change a far more challenging threat to public health than even the polio epidemics in the past in some regards. I don’t think we have seen something like this before where we have a force that has such a multitude of impacts,” - US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Climate change poses a serious danger to public health – worse than polio in some respects – and will strike especially hard at pregnant women, children, low-income people and communities of color, an authoritative US government report warned on Monday.
The report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, formally unveiled at the White House, warned of sweeping risks to public health from rising temperatures in the coming decades – with increased deaths and illnesses from heat stroke, respiratory failure and diseases such as West Nile virus.
Any crisis this urgent must be addressed at every level of society. At the county government level, we must guide all our decisions toward making a community that is regenerative, resilient, sustainable and inclusive. This will affect our decisions about urban and rural development, about transportation, housing, farms and food, hunger, and energy.