If we learn one thing from this pandemic it’s that we ought to be better prepared.

Let’s keep our economy running with a plan and a stockpile of supplies so that we can test, contact trace, and isolate.

Harvard’s Safra Center report, the “Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience,” says we need 340,000 tests per day in Minnesota in order to open up safely, following their 4-phase process of testing, contact tracing and supported isolation. But Minnesota still conducts only 20,000 Covid-19 tests per day.

We were caught unprepared and we’re unhappy with the resulting disruption caused by unemployment, event cancellations, and shortages.

Yet these are trivial in comparison to the coming twin crises of climate change and species extinction.

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The head of the International Energy Agency, F. Birol, says that we have just six months to prevent a rebound in carbon emissions. If emissions do not permanently fall over the next three years, then climate targets cannot be met.

On species extinction, the UN’s IPBES report warns that 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction.

For us in Minnesota, this means we risk losing the pine forests of northern Minnesota, along with the moose and other animals that lived there.

The prairie may extend up to beyond Duluth, and it may be drier. Kandiyohi County may go from having one day a year that feels like 100 degrees or more, up to 17 days.

To act as responsibly, Congress needs to pass the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

Locally, we ought to move quickly to source 100% of our energy from renewables.

Kandiyohi Power Cooperative, through Great River Energy, took a big step in this direction by announcing the closing of their last coal-fired power plant, replacing it with mostly wind energy.

But for the most part, we’re heading into the future unprepared. We could build a community solar garden, install charging stations to help transition to electric cars, create pollinator habitat, start curbside compostable pickup, and ban styrofoam and other single-use plastics.

It’s disappointing that the Invest in Willmar Sales Tax Board hasn’t proposed these projects.

Steve Molenaar