In Love with the World – and Nevada

In this community essay, Michelle Hamilton of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby of Nevada, expresses her love of and fear for the planet’s future.

I wasn’t born here but Nevada has won my heart. How could it not? We have room to breathe here. There are so many places where we can draw inspiration and strength: Lake Tahoe in the north, the Mojave desert in the south, and a sea of sagebrush in between.

Sometimes I am overcome by sadness when I think about the impact of climate change on this place that I love. Despite all the snow this winter, only 22% of Nevada is completely out of the drought. Drought increases the risk of wildfire because drier conditions make it easier for a spark to ignite a fire. The percentage of animal species exposed to dangerous conditions like drought and wildfire increases significantly as the world warms. Reno and Las Vegas are the fastest-warming cities in the U.S.

This is uncomfortable to think about. Sadness is a normal reaction to the pain of our world. So are anger and outrage. Often we are told that we’re overreacting. This is a way to shut down conversation. It can leave us feeling powerless and paralyzed.

So do we shut down and deaden our senses? Can we breathe in all of Nevada’s beauty if we do?

No! This sadness is not a personal pathology. It is our survival instinct calling out to us. It’s our desire to protect the people and places we love.

A good place to begin is to acknowledge our sadness and anger. Then we need to talk about it. This is surprisingly liberating because most people are worried about climate change and the state of our world. Since 2012, the number of people in the U.S. who are alarmed about climate change has more than doubled in size, growing from 12% in 2012 to 26% in 2022. More than half of the population is either concerned or downright alarmed according to the Yale Program on Climate Communication.

So what do we do next? Back in the day, people were told to think globally and act locally. If everyone looks after their own backyard then everything will be fine, right? Turns out, that is not the case. If it were true, then U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would be on a steep downward trend. But they are not.

Being part of the Citizens Climate Lobby community is a source of resiliency for me. Not only am I learning from other people who care deeply about this issue, but they keep me motivated and energized to work on solutions to the problem. There are many people and organizations working on this problem. That’s inspiring!

A lot of work is being done in Carson City right now, because this is legislative season in Nevada. Right now is a great time to talk to your elected officials. Pick up the phone. Call your representative. Tell them what’s important to you. Don’t leave it to the paid lobbyists.

While you’re at it, contact Representative Mark Amodei, and Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto. They need to know that effective climate legislation is vital.

Your survival instinct is calling you. Please answer the call!

Michelle Hamilton is a marketing consultant in Reno and shares the role of Nevada State Coordinator of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-partisan grassroots organization working to create the political will to address climate change.

The ideas expressed above are not necessarily those of the Sierra Nevada Ally. We periodically publish essays from community members to foster public conversation, fulfill our civic responsibility to challenge authority, act independently of corporate or political influence, and invite dissent.

Founded in 2020, the Sierra Nevada Ally is a self-reliant 501c3 nonprofit publication with no paywall, a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News, offering unique, differentiated reporting, factual news, civic information, and explanatory journalism on the environment, conservation, and public policy, while giving voice to writers, filmmakers, visual artists, and performers. We rely on the generosity of our readers and aligned partners.

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