The first part of the industrial revolution was cast as a battle between humanity and nature. We cleared trees and dug mines to build a modern world. Now we see the need for humans to work with nature instead of against it. What used to be an obscure concept 40 years ago—the idea that actions by modern industrialized society could significantly alter the climate of the Earth—has become the defining issue of our generation.

Mitigating Extreme Weather:  I am no environmental extremist. I farm with diesel-burning tractors and trucks, and I don’t (yet) have an electric vehicle, but I do believe that it is every citizen’s responsibility to do what they can to help achieve a sustainable future. At our family farm, I take as many steps as I can to continue to improve our progress toward sustainable practices. 

This has grown beyond our ability to tackle this as individuals; recycling more, and putting solar panels on our roofs, are helpful, but they’re drops in the bucket. I passionately believe in the power of John F. Kennedy’s words: “… One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” But with a problem as big as global shifts in our weather patterns, the solution must be enacted collectively by citizens together, through thoughtful action at every level, all over the world. 

As a farmer, I see the issue up close. Our weather patterns are more erratic and extreme; in 2019, the spring was so wet that many farmers in our area planted only a small percentage of their crops. In the last 10 years, we have more often than not seen summers with extended drought periods that damaged crops. 

Nationally, we’ve seen wildfires, unprecedented tornadoes, and devastating floods, some right here in Michigan. The 500-year-flood is now the 5-year-flood. These natural disasters are coming at an increasingly rapid pace, and science provides us with the culprit: greenhouse gas emissions are changing our planet’s weather patterns. People are dying, billions of dollars worth of property is destroyed each year, and we are witnessing the most significant mass-extinction event in millions of years. Sitting idly by is not an option. 

But I have faith in the ingenuity of humanity: we can do this. We just need the will. The steps we need to take to address climate change can be a boon for job creation and our economy. Here in Michigan, we are solidifying our place as the mobility center of the world, as auto manufacturers shift to building electric vehicles and new battery plants will create thousands of jobs in the area, adding to many more thousands of jobs that will be necessary to make our buildings greener, to build and maintain solar panels and wind turbines, and the many other steps we can take to save not just the environment, but also ourselves. 

We can live fulfilling lives with all the modern conveniences we are accustomed to; we just need to shift from conquering nature to living as one with it, which is as we truly should be. 

Clean Water: We are fortunate in Michigan to be surrounded by the Great Lakes, and have more than 10,000 other lakes, rivers, and streams. Our waterways provide enormous and varied benefits, natural habitats, recreation, and a tourism economy. They also provide a unique climate beneficial for niche agriculture, can have a cooling effect on extreme temperatures, and a fresh water source. 

It’s unfortunate that we know all too well the dangers of not taking care of this precious resource, especially the residents of Genesee County. Responsible stewardship of our water supply must continue and expand. We urgently need to continue to correct the Flint water crisis, which is another on top of a pile of reasons we need people in the state government who will protect the Great Lakes and all of Michigan’s fresh water. We also now realize how major the issue of PFAS tainting our waters is, and the state government must focus resources on the areas of the 71st District that have PFAS contamination. The work must continue to study and fund PFAS cleanup, and to remove and replace lead pipe, to ensure all Michiganders have access to clean water. I would dedicate myself to continuing that work as your State Representative.