Baseball is America’s pastime. It’s part of our identity and our culture. Americans love the sport, and the national camaraderie the comes with it, while rooting for their favorite team. That’s why I was proud to pitch for the 2018 National League Central Division Champion Milwaukee Brewers this year. I saw how my city of Milwaukee came together to cheer us on towards our goal of the World Series. And while we lost our bid for the series, there’s a bigger test ahead for us. It requires that we come together, just like we do with sports, to address the very real threats from climate change.
These threats are impacting every community, including mine. In playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, I represent a city with a strong heritage in the beer industry. But get this, climate change is now going to impact beer as well. Recently, a new study noted that drought, heatwaves, and extreme weather associated with climate change will drastically reduce crop yields of barley, a key ingredient in beer. This is going to double the price of beer for consumers and have a huge impact on my city’s beer industry. But this isn’t the only climate change impact that Milwaukee and Wisconsin are facing. Flooding is on the rise throughout our entire state due to torrential rains, threatening our neighborhoods and infrastructure.
These threats are becoming more frequent and formidable for all of America, not just Milwaukee. Earlier this month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that we’ve got only 12 years to avert total climate catastrophe. And each week, it seems, new scientific and economic reports highlight the growing threats to industries and regions from climate change. Amidst these dire reports, communities around the country continue to bear the brunt of climate change in the form of hurricanes, storm surges, wild fires, and flooding.
That’s why we can’t keep kicking the climate action can down the road. We need to come together to acknowledge climate change and work together to take real action. While we know that the earth’s climate is always in flux, we also know that the excessive use of fossil fuels is making the climate change at a faster and faster rate that harms our way of life and negatively impacts our health, our economy, and our security. Reducing our overall energy use, making everything more energy efficient, and transitioning to renewable energy, then, are necessary steps for us to take.
The low-hanging fruit on this front would be to first get electric and gas utilities to work together, with our states and local communities, to transition to lower-carbon power. That’s a no-brainer. And then let’s electrify everything, from our buildings to our cars, so they can be powered by renewable energy.
While doing that, let’s invest in our cities and towns so they’re better prepared to respond to the health, economic, and security risks from floods, storms, and heat waves. They’re getting hit hard now and need our help. But it’s not just cities that need support. Let’s make sure our farmers and ranchers are equipped with the most sustainable practices, so they can continue to feed the world in ways that are less water, pesticide, and carbon intensive.
Lastly, let’s make sure we’re wisely using our increasingly threatened natural resources. We depend on natural resources for everything. Our entire economy runs on natural capital. So we can’t be quite so careless anymore in how we treat our forests, for example, or even our food supply. Our forests are the lungs that allow us to breathe by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, and indiscriminate deforestation is just making the planet hotter, drier, and less inhabitable. Protecting and restoring this asset, then, should be our number-one priority.
We can do this, but the clock is ticking loudly. We have to act fast as 12 years comes quickly. Just 12 years ago, as an example the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers were playing in the World Series. Both cities now face serious climate impacts–as do the animals their mascots represent.
If we want our favorite American pastime to persevere far into the future, we’ve got to change the game and fast. And since Americans love a good competition, this should be an easy challenge and easy test of our tenacity and teamwork. So, let’s do this. Working together we can win together. And I want us to win.
Brent Suter is a starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers.