Extreme Weather: Our New Normal?
On Wednesday, Aug. 11, a storm ripped through Bay Village so fast and furious, it violently ripped big, old trees out of the ground like they were common weeds in your garden. The wind gust was clocked at 89 mph. On my street, there were power lines draped across the street and utility poles snapped in half like they were toothpicks.
Over 60 hours after the storm the electric company crew finally arrived on our street to get it cleaned up and fixed. We were without power for more than three full days. Some of my neighbors were trapped in their homes, unable to get their cars out of their driveways from the when the storm hit on Wednesday until the street was cleared on Saturday.
Why am I writing about this storm? Because we have been warned for years that we will experience more powerful and extreme weather if we keep failing to act on climate change. All over the globe we are seeing reports of extreme weather, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. I have lived in Bay Village for 21 years and have never seen anything like that wind gust tear up the city like it did. In fact, in all my life I have never experienced that type of violent storm and wind.
What can we do? Each of us can keep trying to improve our carbon footprints. We know that real solutions will require a global scale, but that doesn’t mean each of us should just sit around and wait. Collectively, our small actions can – and will – make a difference.
Driving your car less – and not idling your car, ever – will help. If the weather is nice, consider biking or walking if you’re only going a short distance. If that is not necessarily an option, properly maintaining your car and ensuring your tires are correctly inflated will help with your car’s efficiency. Always hauling your kids around? Carpooling is a great way to reduce emissions from vehicles.
Another thing you can do is implement “Meatless Monday” (or any day you choose!). Eating less meat helps reduce carbon emissions because meat production requires a lot of feed, water and land, and cows themselves give off methane emissions which is another greenhouse gas. Try eating a vegetarian meal once or twice a week! Also, purchasing local produce when possible and available also helps with emissions, as the shorter the distance food needs to travel, the better for the environment.
Around your house, you can help by keeping your house a bit cooler in the winter (turning the heat down) and a little warmer in the summer (turning your AC warmer). Also, please turn off lights when not in use, and unplug appliances (including your cell phone charger!) when not in use. (I must admit this is a weakness of mine but I am trying to get better!) Replace your appliances with Energy Star products. Make sure you are recycling, and recycling correctly, and donate any old appliances and household items you can rather than putting them in the trash bound for the landfill.
Lastly, please plant native trees! I’ve written about our tragic tree canopy loss and I’m sure that storm last week killed many more trees. Definitely replace any trees you have lost! Also, when it comes to trees and storms, have an arborist out to your home to check out at your trees’ health trimming needs. Healthy trees withstand storms much better than sick ones. Together, each of us can and will make a difference!