Chair’s Corner

November – December 2018 – by Dick Beck, Chair

Two years ago, our USA held an election.   In my opinion, too few people voted, and we’ve been paying for it ever since.   We are now ruled by a president who proudly states a belief that climate change is a hoax.   Our “Environmental Protection Agency” is being dismantled.   Regulations are being rolled back on mercury pollution in our air (so that coal can be burned more profitably).   And . . . .

            This year, for the first time in a few years, our Portage Trail Group has an active political committee.   DeeDee Giese from Wooster and Tom Collins from Garrettsville have distributed Sierra Club political questionnaires to candidates.   A number of candidates have filled out the forms, been interviewed, and been endorsed by our local group, the state and/or the national Sierra Club.

            Unfortunately, they report to me that so far no Republican candidate has sought our endorsement.   That is very disappointing to me, and to them.   I hope it’s disappointing to you.   Protecting planet earth should not be a partisan issue!   I try to avoid political advertisements, but protecting the planet has not been a priority in the ads I’ve seen and heard.   If saving planet earth for human living has been a discussion topic in candidaate debates, I’ve missed it.

            Climate change is being accepted by the US military, by many corporations, and by another new United Nations report, as a serious threat to our future.   But our current “representatives” in Ohio do not wish to deal with that. 

            Very recently, our Sierra Club can take some credit for two positive political successes:

1)  Cleveland is now the first municipality in Ohio to commit to powering itself with 100% clean and renewable electricity.   That is to happen by 2050 – distant, but a start.   Jocelyn Travis was hired by our national Sierra Club to lobby for and to build community support for that Cleveland “Ready for 100” campaign.    You may remember that she spoke at our Portage Trail Group meeting February 20.   If you’d like to start a “Ready for 100” campaign in Akron, please contact Tom Collins.   Other communities?    Jocelyn has plans.

2) A few years ago, our Sierra Club activists were in the forefront of getting energy company AEP to promise to produce more power with new wind and solar plants.   In the last year, some of us were worried that it was forgetting that promise.   But finally, AEP has announced plans for 20 times the largest solar installation we have to date.

            Still, the gerrymandered Ohio legislature worked efficiently to take away local control, as energy companies install pipelines.   Yes, coal companies are closing plants, and natural gas is better, but new pipelines insure that our energy will come primarily from fossil fuels for years to come.   Ohio politicians have also worked to “Drill, Baby, Drill!” on state lands, and to “harvest” public forests.   Forestry is important, but Dave Ackerman (at our June 19 meeting) and others are not happy with the ways it’s being done.

            Nationally, our president is now doing the same, and selling off new national monuments.   I am not the only one distraught that his administration is also discouraging government workers who wish to use science to make decisions.

            Our Portage Trail Group of the Sierra Club has our own election material in this issue of the Signal Tree.   Though someone will “lose,” I haven’t heard that this election is contentious.   If you’d like to be more involved helping us Enjoy, Explore and Protect the earth, we’d like you to join us!    Meanwhile, Please vote!!