NO ONE CAN DO EVERYTHING. BUT EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING TO REDUCE CLIMATE IMPACTS
The Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission was formed in the late 1960s when nine cities in the watershed came together to work on flooding problems. In fact, the commission was originally named the Bassett Creek Flood Control Commission. Despite the award-winning engineering work and collaborative efforts, flooding remains a concern today. And since Minnesota’s climate is becoming warmer and wetter, flooding will likely remain an issue well into the future. This article is the first in a series about the connections between a wetter climate, our water resources, and how you can help.
Flooding wreaks havoc on residents’ health and finances and also leads to erosion problems. Sure, some erosion is natural, but humans are speeding up the process at an unnatural rate. Erosion is a concern because not only is people’s property slowly slipping away, the sediment winds up in lakes and streams and becomes a pollutant. Water polluted with sediment becomes cloudy, preventing animals from seeing food and murky water prevents natural aquatic vegetation from growing. Sediment in stream beds disrupts the natural food chain by destroying the habitat where the smallest stream organisms live and causing massive declines in fish populations. Sediment can also clog fish gills—making fish more susceptible to disease— reduce growth rates, and affect fish egg and larvae development. The nutrients, such as phosphorus, transported by sediment can activate blue-green algae that release toxins and can make swimmers sick. Finally, increased sediment fills up storm drains and catch basins designed to carry water away from roads and homes, which increases the potential for more flooding.
How can individuals help curb climate change and reduce flood risk in our communities? It’s true that individual actions won’t be enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. The world needs policy and technology along with individuals moving in lockstep toward a zero-carbon future. This being said, there are many things individuals can do.
3 simple ways to make a dramatic difference
1. MAKE GREEN CHOICES WHEN YOU BUY
Supporting green choices—such as energy-efficient appliances, plant-based burgers, electric cars, and passive housing, etc.—signals that there is demand which means more innovators will get to work. Make sure your employer makes green choices too because businesses and government have much more buying power than individuals.
2. TALK ABOUT CLIMATE CONCERNS
According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, 72% of U.S. adults understand global warming is happening, 78% of the nation supports teaching about climate change in schools, and 86% support funding renewable energy sources. But the disconnect is that only 35% of adults discuss it at least occasionally. How do mere conversations help solve a problem? People's words become their actions, so we need to start those conversations.
3. DON’T WASTE FOOD
Worldwide, 20% of food is wasted, but Americans waste 40% of food annually. Did you know that a family of four typically wastes $1,500 a year on food that is thrown away? A lot of resources are used to grow, process, ship, store, and cook food. Don’t let all that energy and water go to waste.
Written by Dawn Pape on behalf of the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission (BCWMC), a local unit of government comprised of the nine cities that drain to Bassett Creek, focused on protecting water. BCWMC is a member of the West Metro Water Alliance. www.bassettcreekwmo.org.