Stevens County Times Editorial: Morris Model needs to convince public to take small steps with climate change
A representative of Saerbeck, Germany, highlighted one of the challenges for the Morris Model during a community meeting June 12 in Morris.
The Morris Model is a partnership of various entities, including the city of Morris and University of Minnesota Morris, which is working to make the community more adept at adjusting to climate change, reducing the community's consumption of fossil fuels and decreasing the use of the landfill.
The Morris Model has a partnership with Saerbeck which is viewed as a leader in renewable energy and practices that meet climate change challenges.
Guido Wallraven said the Morris Model will have a challenge in getting the community of Morris on board with its goals. Saerbeck had a similar challenge several years ago, he said.
It will be a challenge. Although some residents in the county are using electric and hybrid vehicles, may have installed energy efficient furnaces and other appliances, the goal to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent by 2030 seems a stiff challenge.
The Morris Model provided some examples of changes that are being made in the community such as the student-led installation of solar panels at Morris Area High School and a local resident who bought an electric car.
But the average household may not be able to afford to install a solar pane on their home or buy an electric vehicle.
This area is also represented in the Minnesota House and Senate by legislators who seem reluctant to fully embrace the need to increase the use of renewable energy and adjust to climate change.
But we don't have a lot of time to wait to adjust our lifestyles. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in October of 2018 that the world has until about 2030 to dramatically reduce the warming of the plant and the ill effects of climate change.
So how does the Morris Model convince the public to get on board with big goals? Maybe it's by encouraging them to embrace smaller goals first. It could be simple things like sharing a ride to work several days a week or sharing a ride to the away football game or walking to work.
It's going to take education and nearly constant reinforcement that a project such as installing solar panels on the former landfill in the county is a good idea.
But the task is much larger then Morris. Remember when it seemed like every dad, mom and aunt smoked? And then, the public learned of the hazards of tobacco and tobacco advertising was removed from TV. More recently, the state of Minnesota did a great job of addressing tobacco use by youth with a public service campaign and educational events. In the late 1990s and early 2000s tobacco use by youth declined.
Morris, the county, the state and the nation will need a similar educational effort to help people change habits and adopt new ones.
Morris is one piece of the puzzle. But as advocates for conservation, renewable energy and the like often say, "Think globally, act locally."
But the local acts for residents may need to start small at first.