Pittsburgh’s smoky skies this week are a reminder both of where we’ve been, and a reminder of where we need to go. Whether it’s the inescapable unhealthy air from wildfires, increased pressure on the Texas power grid during a record-breaking heatwave, or the Florida cases of a malaria, a disease that spreads more easily in a warmer climate and hasn’t been transmitted in the US in 20 years, this week has been a visceral reminder that climate impacts are here and now and getting worse.
The sudden and unwelcome worsening of air quality in our historically impaired airshed and recent events’ impact on our health and safety shouldn’t be ignored. But before we succumb to endless doom scrolling, let’s remind ourselves that there is a pathway forward. And it must be defined by the imperative to change. Creation of a climate-friendly economy that works for all of us is critical for an equitable, resilient, healthy and prosperous region – a sustainable region. It is possible, and every project gets us closer to that regional goal. Let’s roll up our sleeves (even if we aren’t quite back to changing our shirts at mid-day) and take on the hard work, in a region that knows a thing or two about hard work. We can greet these developments with despair, or we can rededicate ourselves to restoring our relationship with the world around us and finding common cause with each other even in fractured times, to build a better tomorrow.