The City of Tucson Climate Change Committee (COT CCC) is an advisory board working to design an adaptation and mitigation plan for the City of Tucson. In doing so a recommendation will be made that the City of Tucson become NET ZERO by 2040.
Net Zero-simply put, means consuming only as much energy as produced - by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference. To be considered Net Zero an organization must reduce its carbon footprint to zero.
Net Zero is warranted and belated to adapt to and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that climate scientists overwhelmingly agree contribute to climate change.
An immediate additional benefit will be to the community in terms of a more vibrant economy, lower healthcare costs, better food and water security, and a more contained climate habitat in reference to heat and cold extremes, storms, wildfires, and flooding.
But an overlooked and highly compelling benefit will be to our most vulnerable members of the community; the mentally ill.
Their two biggest obstacles are Transportation and Housing.
From my experience a mentally ill person has a sweet spot or small window of time to become stable so that they can be most effectively treated. If the window is missed then the likelihood of an unnecessarily long and poor recovery may occur.
Flexible and reliable transportation is crucial so that a patient can meet with their healthcare provider and medical team as needed. Transportation is critical so that the patient can pick up their medication on a regular basis, meet in a timely manner with counselors and psychologists, and join in group and peer meetings. Promptness in scheduling doctors, nurses, counselors, psychologists, and attend metacognitive, and health and wellness appointments require flexible, affordable and reliable transportation around the city. Transportation is one of the most important keys to success for an outpatient mentally ill person.
Second is Housing. Affordable, clean, and safe housing is key so that a person can build consistency to concentrate on and schedule their recovery. Restful sleep is critical to any recovery which helps manage stress and anxiety. A clean and orderly environment will accelerate their ability to help themselves and stay focused on their recovery plan.
A simple first step is for the COT to expand funding for home weatherization programs. Today's foreclosures bring empty homes that the COT can purchase and retrofit, or weatherize, using energy efficient modern upgrades. Weatherization provides healthier outcomes by using safer non-toxic building products. Weatherization most importantly saves money by significantly lowering housing utility bills and providing buildings that emit fewer toxins that make people sick. Weatherized homes serve substantial multiple purposes by keeping people healthier, saving utility and healthcare costs, and emitting less green house gases, which help the entire community.
The COT can support contractors and businesses by working in collaboration with local credit unions and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide low interest rate loans for retrofitting homes. The COT can also find funding for an expanded weatherized homes program to purchase foreclosed homes, which can be used as group and transition homes for mentally ill residents working towards independent living.
Low cost transportation must be a priority for the city of Tucson so as to accommodate mentally ill individuals. This can be done if buses are switched to an all-electric fleet. This will serve to lower the cost of transportation so that routes can be expanded and pick up times lengthened.
*An all-electric fleet of vans and small cars can be used specifically for the mentally ill, such as an UBER modeled system for persons entered into the court system.
*A bus rapid transit system needs to be put into place immediately.
*Buses need to have more bike racks, at least 20, in my opinion, but a better option since buses in Tucson are never full, is to take out 3 rows in the back of the bus and replace with bike racks to allow passengers onto the bus with their bikes.
*There needs to be better use of the 100 + mile Rillito River Loop by having ancillary transportation from the inner city to and away from the LOOP.
*A bike rental system needs to be put into place by the COT.
These are MY immediate solutions to both mitigate and adapt to climate change AND help our most vulnerable citizens. I'm sure you have some ideas too.
The City of Tucson Climate Change Committee would like to hear your ideas and use them to push the City of Tucson into implementing an adaptation and mitigation plan for climate change. Our community can only be as strong as our weakest community members. If these members can't easily move around the city or have a safe, clean place to live so that they can live well, then the entire city loses.
You can Help push Tucson to NetZero by 2040! Share your voice...
The next City of Tucson CLIMATE CHANGE COMMITTEE (COT CCC) will hold their meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 3:00-5:00 PM, at the Tucson Parks and Recreation Administration Office (900 S Randolph Way), Tucson, Arizona. The meeting will take place in the Mesquite Conference Room. The meeting is open to the public to observe and once a call to the audience is made the public is able to make comments at the end of the meeting. CCC meetings are held every 3rd Tuesday of the month. Contact tucsonaz.gov/sustainability for more info.
Kris Basel, REALTOR®
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