Sometimes we don’t think things through fully. Today’s freeze up of electric generating capacity in Texas is a good example of that leading to bad outcomes. Generally a hot place, energy managers felt no need to invest in winterization of equipment, so wind turbines froze and fossil fuel and nuclear plants that rely on water for cooling had to shut down or cut back production because, wait for it, the water froze. Because operators wanted to maximize profits and lacked the ability to foresee and therefore prepare for extreme temperatures, hundreds of thousands are in for a cold dark night. Climate change models have always predicted both a warmer planet and one that still experiences extremes. Failing to accept those lessons and account for them operationally will exact a significant human toll this week across large parts of the country.
There are other examples of our failure to imagine the extent to which some will go that have led to deadly outcomes. Think no further back to Jan 6 for a recent example. But it is not just in allowing bad things to happen that we pay for from a lack of imagination and bold thinking. Sometimes we are guilty of not thinking big to solve problems that require big steps to be taken. We are at an inflection point, presented with an opportunity to remake our approach to solving environmental problems at the local, national and global levels. Presented with the opportunity to rebuild laws and programs eviscerated over the last four years, we need to think big and not just restore what was lost but improve upon those elements of the environmental laws that are outdated or didn’t age well as conditions have changed.
At the local level we have a chance to make right what has been decades of relentless abuse of our water resources with outdated human waste disposal practices and destruction of native habitats. Now is the time to push your town to move on water quality initiatives, partly because there is more money available now to help towns pay for infrastructure with the Cape and Islands Water Protection Trust becoming a reality and because there is federal infrastructure funding on the way. Cape Cod missed out on the last big slug of federal money sent to towns to fund wastewater projects, and all the attendant local construction jobs, because as a region we lacked the imagination and resolve to have projects ready when the money was to be had. We can’t make that mistake again. It’s bad for our local taxpayers and its bad for our environment.
Think big. It is time.