To the Editor:

A Hyde Park neighbor recently added an extension to the back of their house. As I walked past the other day, I noticed that the roof had a single pitch, facing south, and wondered: do they have solar panels? Sure enough, the roof was covered with electricity-producing photovoltaic panels.

My brother in Western Australian recently added solar panels to his roof, so now he can run air conditioning "for free" during summer. He told me that it is now standard for all new houses built in his city to come with solar panels. All it took was financial incentives offered by the state government.

Solar electricity is one of many ways in which we can dodge the slow-moving disaster we are locking in by our continued release of carbon into the atmosphere. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned us that temperatures are likely to shoot past a key danger point if we don't peak emissions by 2025, and reduce them by 43% by 2030. To keep the planet livable for our grandchildren, we need to speed up the transition by a factor of three.

The City of Chicago last month mandated divesting from fossil fuels. At the state level, the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act signed into law in 2021 quadruples the amount of solar and wind power in Illinois over the next decade. It expands the “Solar For All” program from $10 million to $50 million per year to ensure the benefits of solar energy reach Illinois’ low-income communities and commits up to $80 million per year to support transportation electrification, with a goal of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road in Illinois by 2030.

While we need government to set policy and invest in new solutions, even individuals can make a difference. Every gram of carbon kept in the ground gets us closer to the goal. Take a train instead of flying, or ride a bike through a neighborhood you have never visited instead of flying to another state or country. Turn on a fan instead of an air conditioner. Eat more plant protein to replace meat. Reduce your hot showers by 1 minute. Buy an electric stove or an electric car next time.

Ask kids you know what climate action you or your family could take. They probably know and care, because it is their future our present actions are determining.

Don Wedd

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