It’s a coincidence that the Town Council meeting scheduled for a vote on a climate initiative was canceled by concern over the coronavirus. The initiative is quite worthy and I wholeheartedly support it but the concern that it might be more symbolic than effective is real. 

COVID-19 over the past week has had a huge impact on all of our lives. It appears this is just the beginning.  We don’t know how much or for how long we will be affected. All of us are giving up a little or a lot. My hunch is the new normal may not be the old one.

With large gatherings and so much travel being curtailed, it appears that this virus is likely causing a drastic reduction in our CO2 production. In my lifetime I have never seen such rapid and dramatic changes in behavior, in what we do and how we do it.  It’s hard to believe that, without war and in less than a week, travel is being drastically reduced, schools are going on extended breaks, resorts are closing, professional and collegiate sporting events are off, restaurants are not serving, gatherings over 10 are taboo……

Concerning the imminent challenges of climate change, Dr. Robert Davies recently brought up the analogy of our society being like the Titanic after spotting an iceberg, knowing they needed to change course but having too much inertia to slow or turn sufficiently. What we have all witnessed this last week shows us that we really can slow and change course remarkably fast.  It is a question of will and a realization of urgency. 

Regarding climate, the urgency is real. Science tells us that if we don’t want to cook our planet and cause changes that will be devastating, we have about a decade to cut our CO2 emissions in half, then need to keep reducing to achieve carbon neutral by around 2050. When I saw the starkness of that necessity, I frankly didn’t think we would change that quickly. Dreadful as so much of what is going on now is, it also gives us hope. It shows that we are capable of mobilizing, changing and making huge sacrifices for the greater good.

Pass the initiative and let’s all take this opportunity to make the changes, locally, nationally and globally that may allow us to avert the worst potential havoc from human-caused climate change.

Stay Healthy!

Larry Thal, AIA

Founder Sunlight Design & Mountainside Village

Letter to the Editor, Jackson Hole News & Guide 3/15/20