Are we tipping toward a tipping point?

Around the world, at this very moment, the urgency of addressing climate change is finally being recognized.

Earlier this week, the U.K. Parliament declared an “environment and climate emergency.” Leaders of Scotland and Wales have also declared climate emergencies. On the U.S. presidential campaign trail, climate change is a hot topic. Governments and civil societies the world over are acting on climate change, by means of both mitigation (reducing carbon pollution) and adaptation (how we deal with the changes that are already upon us, and that are projected to accelerate in coming decades).

It’s happening here too. Over the past year, Missoula County, Climate Smart Missoula and the city of Missoula have been ramping up our efforts. You’ve likely heard about our 100 percent clean electricity commitment, a critical component of climate mitigation. You may not have heard that we’ve simultaneously been making headway in the adaptation arena, and we are now asking for public input to strengthen this effort.

While climate change is a global challenge, its impacts are experienced at the local level, and local communities need to step up and address them. According to the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment, the impacts of climate change in Missoula County will include reduced low-elevation snowpack, earlier spring snowmelt, and more frequent and intense floods and wildfires.

We’re already seeing climate impacts in our region. The earlier that we understand and prepare for these changes, the greater our chances of reducing their effects on human health and safety, the natural environment and our local economy.

Our three respective entities are jointly leading a climate resiliency planning process called Climate Ready Communities: Building Resiliency in Missoula County. Because climate change impacts involve all sectors of our community, this 18-month process, begun last summer, relies on community engagement and involves a broad range of local stakeholders. This includes public health, emergency services, agriculture, forestry, recreation, business, underrepresented communities, and local water, energy and transportation systems.

At this juncture, the process also involves all community members who care to learn more and lend their voice. To that end, we are inviting the public to two open houses to learn more about this effort and review our draft vulnerability assessment (see poster for details).

Help us determine what and who are most vulnerable as our local climate changes. Identifying and prioritizing our vulnerabilities is a key first step toward developing adaptation strategies for our area.

If you can’t make it to one of the open houses, you can learn more about this resiliency planning effort, see our timeline, check out the draft vulnerability assessment, and provide feedback online here.

In a May 1 piece for the New Yorker magazine, longtime climate writer and advocate Bill McKibben writes, “I think I can say that we’re in a remarkable moment, when, after years of languishing, climate concern is suddenly and explosively rising to the top of the political agenda. Maybe, though not certainly, it is rising fast enough that we’ll get real action.”

Thank you for being part of this remarkable moment by helping us build a resilient Missoula and Missoula County. And finally, today is Missoula Gives. Another way to give back to the community you love dearly is to support local organizations working to bring us a healthier, more sustainable world.

Amy Cilimburg is the Executive Director at Climate Smart Missoula, Diana Maneta is the Energy Conservation and Sustainability Coordinator for Missoula County, and Chase Jones is the Energy Conservation and Climate Action Coordinator for the City of Missoula.

This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every Friday by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource. NOTE: Today is Missoula Gives. Consider supporting the folks who bring you this weekly Current column, Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Upcoming Sustainability Events:

May 4. The Markets Begin. Come downtown Saturday to the Clark Fork Market and the Farmer’s Market and buy plenty of local food, native plants, tasty breakfast treats, and veggie starts.

May 5 – 18. Missoula in Motion’s Commuter Challenge. Not too late to sign up. Never too late to bus, walk and ride!

May 8. Montana’s Public Service Commission is hosting a public meeting about Northwestern Energy’s upcoming rate case. 6:30 p.m., Partnership Health Center, 401 Railroad St. W., Missoula. Sounds wonky but you can learn more and lend your voice!

May 9. Climate Smart Missoula’s Monthly Meetup: Health and Climate Change. Imagine Nation Brewing Co., 5 - 6:30pm.

View more climate and energy events via Climate Smart Missoula’s Calendar.

There are many more conservation events for 2019 HERE.