116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
My love for the outdoors is not new. I grew up in a house with two parents who are both early childhood educators who understood the importance of growth through play and exploration. The children in their care, which included my younger brother and me, were fortunate to have a lot of outdoor time at day care. These types of adventures were pivotal in establishing my deep gratitude for natural spaces.
When I was in third grade our family moved from Des Moines to Decorah. With this move came new natural places to explore. I was privileged to have parents who had the ability and desire to expose us to the Driftless area where we fished and hiked and biked. It was also about this time when we were first exposed to climate change and learned how burning fossil fuels and other human activities will accelerate the rate at which it is happening. As a child, I kind of accepted that as just the way it is.
As I continued to research on my own and take more classes in the areas of science and social studies, I learned that there is so much more to climate change than what we were learning in school. I started to see the impact of climate change and human activity in the places I loved. After years of going to the same parks and natural places, I was starting to see the toll that a lack of environmental policies and inadequate funding were beginning to take on the places I cared so much about.
When I was young my family would go to Backbone State Park often and we would swim in the lake. Recently when I drove home to Decorah from school in Iowa City, I stopped just to see the lake. It was alarming to see the warning signs recommending not to go into the water due to bacterial growth from industrial farm runoff — problems that could be alleviated through better farming conservation practices which would receive double the funding if passed through the U.S. Senate as part of the Build Back Better Infrastructure Bill. How could the places that I once swam in often be so polluted they now require warning signs? It hurts to know that my political leaders aren't doing anything about it.
I love the state of Iowa, but the type of lifestyle I want to live in the future is looking more and more impossible in a state that isn't responding to the threat of climate change. The decline in the planet's health due to lack of leadership from elected officials is frustrating because it is my generation who will feel the strongest impacts of climate change. To see our leaders in this state do little to nothing again and again is so heartbreaking. The infrastructure to solve these problems is not being properly funded in this state. We can't sit back and accept inaction while the water, air, and soil quality decline and increased frequency and severity of flooding and storms wreak havoc on our cities- something that this state knows a lot about from last year's derecho damage.
We have solutions. If we want to make change, we must encourage our federal lawmakers to pass the proposed budget resolution. Legislation that is long overdue for stopping climate change. The Civilian Climate Corp would give young adults, like me, the ability to directly work in the clean energy sector and fight back in the threat of climate change. When passed this bill will prioritize the climate as it should be prioritized and give myself and like-minded individuals the power to create a change in a system that for so long felt like it didn't belong to us. I am ready to be a part of it, and I ask that my Iowa representatives support this much-needed climate legislation on behalf of all Iowans.
Natalie Tapscott is a political science and environmental policy major at the University of Iowa. email@example.com