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Global warming contributions take back seat to talk of job creation – Columbia Missourian

I am a member of the Osage Group (Sierra Club) executive committee. In that role, I’d submitted a motion that would ask the Climate and Environment Commission of the Columbia City Council to investigate several matters. The motion had passed unanimously.

Among those issues was a request that the commission determine if the City Council had considered unintended consequences when issuing permits or changing zoning to assist incoming businesses.

While the motion was general, there were a couple of actions that triggered my motion.

The second action was granting a permit to JBS, which operates Swift Prepared Foods — and several million taxpayer dollars, apparently without notice of public hearings and without consideration of emissions from the facility that will make Italian meats.

The Climate and Environment Commission was not consulted and did not even know of the decision until it was announced.

While it must be acknowledged that the City Council has been proactive in combatting global climate change, it must also be acknowledged that most of that activity has been quite minor. Rather than taking on big businesses — or even small businesses — the City Council rolls over when an incoming industry promises jobs.

So far, assertions of economic development trump any real action on global climate change.

That view goes a long way in describing how we got into this mess. As occasional columnist Jay Hasheider has warned, we have a few short years to turn things around. If not, Earth may become uninhabitable by humans. At that point, only cockroaches and rats can survive.

There are those who deny global climate change and insist, without any evidence, that it is a “hoax” intended to benefit the wind and solar companies. While that may be persuasive to smaller cities such as Rolla and Kirksville, it isn’t to the supposed progressive community of Columbia.

But, again, small steps have been taken, along with creating small measures and a commission to deal with ongoing problems in our city. As long as the City Council places jobs before climate change, not much will change.

Mayor Brian Treece and Councilman Ian Thomas have announced that they will not seek reelection. Let’s hope that the people who take their places will tackle climate change head on.

Ken Midkiff, formerly the director of the Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign, is now chair of the city’s Environment and Energy Commission and serves on the board of directors of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.



About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.


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