The headlines could not be grimmer when it comes to the reality of a changing climate. Greenland’s ice shield broke up. Wildfires have devastated vast swaths of the country – including Alaska. A hurricane dropped an unprecedented 21 inches of rain on Hawaii last week. 

The strength and intensity of hurricanes is exceeding existing norms and our ability to measure them. Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico and beyond last year, was “a catastrophe of historic proportions, as never seen or lived before in the United States,” according to Carlos Mercader, executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

That statement came in a response to a new analysis that showed that the death toll from that storm on the island was closer to 3,000 people, approximately the same number that died in the 9/11 attacks in New York City.

It’s here. It’s real and for now we cannot rely on our elected officials to do the right thing for us at the national level where the Trump administration is rolling back environmental protections on a daily basis.

We agree with what Rev. Sister Laurian Seeber wrote in a My View this week, that we have the responsibility to raise this issue with candidates for office at every level, local, state and national. It’s our job to ask them the hard questions so that their policies can become part of the election. Seeber is right; we have a moral responsibility to the planet and the species that inhabit it.

Our only recourse is to rely on ourselves and do what we can in our own homes and lives to reduce our own footprints on this planet. We can start with our own homes and how energy efficient they are. We can drive less, hang laundry on a line, buy energy-efficient appliances, fixtures and light bulbs.

We can do our best to make sure that our homes and driveways are doing their parts in making sure stormwater runoff and erosion don’t worsen flooding and don’t impact the person downhill or downstream.

House by house we can make a difference and house by house we can bring about change. And we need to bring the issue back into the political discourse as the November midterm elections approach.