Vail Daily guest column: Bike to Work, climate action benefits our health | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily guest column: Bike to Work, climate action benefits our health

Kim Langmaid
Valley Voices

Editor's note: Find a cited version of this column at http://www.vaildaily.com.

Summer is mating time, not only for the birds and the bees but also for wildflowers, grasses and trees. In order to mate and reproduce, male plants cast their pollen on the wind. Pollen is a No. 1 cause of summer allergies, and health professionals say allergies are worsening due to climate change.

The American Public Health Association has proclaimed 2017 the "Year of Climate Change and Health," and a group of 400,000 clinical practitioners have formed The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health to educate about the serious harm climate change is already having to U.S. citizens. The most common symptoms are increased cardiorespiratory disease related to air quality and heat, more severe and longer-lasting allergies and injuries and mental health issues due to extreme weather events such as flooding and wildfires. Many doctors across the country see climate change as the greatest public health opportunity of the 21st century.

The best way to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the natural environment we all enjoy is to act now to decrease use of fossil fuels and increase energy efficiency and the use of clean-energy sources such as solar, wind and micro-hydro power.

The Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community calls for everyone to get involved and protect our community. The goal of the plan is to reduce community-wide greenhouses gases 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 from the 2014 baseline. Teams of stakeholders have formed to address recommendations from the plan, including reducing energy use in homes and commercial buildings, improving public transportation and mobility, increasing recycling and composting and educating people how to take action.

What can you do to help? Ride a bike or skate to work. Participate in Sole Power and Bike to Work Day on Wednesday. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Upgrade to an electric vehicle and take advantage of $12,000 in rebates. Put your wet clothes on a laundry line to dry. Eat locally grown food. Replace cranky old appliances with new Energy Star versions. Get an energy assessment of your home from the friendly staff of Energy Smart Colorado. Partner with your co-workers and certify your business Actively Green. These actions, and many more, help create a healthy community.

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The Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community has been adopted by the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners and the towns of Vail, Minturn, Avon, Eagle and Basalt, the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Upper Eagle Valley Water Authority, Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District, Eagle County Schools and Walking Mountains Science Center. Others are making progress to adopt the plan through their neighborhoods, businesses, nonprofits and schools. And on June 2, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz committed to redouble the company's efforts to reduce energy use and protect our natural landscapes.

We can each make a difference every day to improve our health and protect our mountain environment. Take the Eagle County Climate Action Pledge today at http://www.eaglecounty.us/CAP. And despite those pesky pollen grains, take advantage of the gorgeous summer weather. Get outside this week and join in ECO Trails' Bike to Work Day on Wednesday. Take the pledge online before 4 p.m. on Wednesday and you'll be entered to win prizes including a QuietKat electric bike. A celebration and raffle will be hosted at 5 p.m. at Bonfire Brewing in Eagle. Prizes are limited to Eagle County residents, and you do not need to be present to win.

I look forward to seeing you out on the trail this Wednesday and riding together to protect our community.

Kim Langmaid is founder and vice president of Walking Mountains Science Center and serves on the Vail Town Council. For more information about the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community go to http://www.walkingmountains.org/cap.