Thursday, July 9, 2020
Hailey Citizens Say It’s Time to Get Serious About Global Warming
Gretchen Basen and Elizabeth Jeffrey say it’s time to get serious—truly serious—about doing what we can to stop global warming.
Friday, May 17, 2019


Elizabeth Jeffrey has a confession to make.

“I always said that we’ve got to address global warming for the kids, for my daughter. But I have to admit I didn’t start doing anything until it affected me. They were telling us it was 20 years in the future. Now it’s now.”

In fact, Jeffrey is scared –so scared that she and five friends have formed the Hailey Climate Action Coalition to take meaningful, actionable steps at a local level that will help make a difference globally.

They’re dead serious—so serious that they’re creating their bulletin board out of recycled materials and brainstorming what refreshments they can serve that don’t involve paper cups or plastic utensils.

They hope to enlist others in their effort when they hold their first meeting from 5:30 to 7 p.m.  Tuesday, May 21, at The Nature Conservancy, 116 1st Ave. N., in Hailey. They plan to meet three or four additional Tuesday evenings until they’ve hammered out a plan.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said we had 12 years to avert catastrophe and that scared me,” said Jeffrey, who already has built a passive solar home ringed by xeriscaping in Old Hailey. “And I know a lot of people who are scared, who don’t feel they can make a difference, who are frustrated because government and businesses are not changing.

“We want to come together and figure out how we can make a difference, understanding that global change starts locally.”

The tipping point for Jeffrey came when precious summers and falls in the Wood River Valley too often began turning into smoke season.

“A lot of us in this group are concerned about the lack of snow days. And we’re losing our wonderful fall season, which used to be so beautiful. Now, I feel like I’ve got to have an air purifier and I plan on taking a vacation that time of the year because I’m afraid it will be smoky,” she said.

it isn’t just here, Jeffrey added.

Colorful Hawaiian coral reefs that she marveled at six years ago have died, exuding a pale lifeless color.   The farmland she grew up amidst in Iowa now sports floodwaters up to the gutters of the farmhouses for a month and a half or more.

And her 33-year-old daughter who lives in New York must now access the subway through above-ground stations during summer because it’s suffocating hot below ground.

“She said that it was the luck of the draw that Hurricane Sandy came at low tide,” Jeffrey said. “At high water it would’ve knocked out all the electricity, all the infrastructure in Queens where she lives. And she says more people there are dying of heat during summer than ever before—she’s had to get an air condition.”

Those who have joined the Hailey Climate Action Coalition so far include Jeffrey’s husband Rob Lonning, Gretchen Basen, Scott Runkel, Colleen Clark and Jeff Anderton.

“My husband and I moved to the valley a few years ago for all the wonderful outdoor things this valley offers. So, I hope to engage the community in preserving what we have and even improving on it,” said Basen.

Committee members determined at their formative meeting on Wednesday that constructive change can be made in three sectors: Government, business and community. Now they want to identify a goal for each sector.

“Even a group of 10 can send a strong message to all three of the sectors,” said Jeffrey.

One possibility, for instance, would involve asking the City of Hailey to reinstate the position of the sustainability director that was left unfilled when Mariel Pratt left. She knew her stuff and made a lot of good changes, such improving housing codes to include double-paned windows, said Jeffrey.

The group could press for a program certifying green practices in local businesses, she added. McDonald’s, for instance, has stepped up to the plate by refusing to continue to use Styrofoam or put food in bag when not needed.

Selling bottled water or other single use plastic products at city events could help, Jeffrey said. And more speakers addressing global warming at library and school events, could help, as well.

“Mariel had a plastic bag workshop that involved crocheting plastic bags and more that filled up even without advertising,” she said. “We need more of these things to educate people and make it easy for them to do their part. We don’t want to do things after the fact. We want to make changes up front.”

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