We are fortunate that CEMO is continuing its growth and building capacity in 2024. New CEMO staff additions include a Commission Executive Assistant joining mid-January to support the coordination of our Climate Emergency Mobilization Commission (CEMC) meetings, and the Deputy Heat Officer, expected to join by March 2024. We are also thankful for new Commissioners who are listed below in the CEMC updates section.

Yet, with growth and change comes more responsibility. Speaking of change, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service has provided its grim assessment regarding 2023 as Earth’s hottest year on record. This is very sobering, even for optimists like myself, who believe there is always a solution to every challenge. This news is coupled with record increases in carbon emissions. We have failed to convey the urgency of the destruction of livability (both for cities and broader communities) effectively enough to create global systems change.

Yet, none of us want to live in an air-conditioned bubble, where we can’t walk or see kids play outdoors, because it’s too polluted. We must be realistic, and understand the consequences of our inactions and inability to create systemic global changes, or even simpler local changes. Perhaps our messaging is off, and we focus too much on carbon emissions and climate change, and not enough about what that means to our health, to our livability, our neighbors, our family, and our pollution-burdened areas with excess chronic illnesses, which are connected to our environment and our climate.

Suppose you still need to make your New Year’s pledge. You could create one that reduces your consumption of plastics, or meat, or both, and lends your voice to protecting the health of your community by supporting more trees, parks, and walkable streets. If I could, I would wave a wand that gave us all optimal health, healthy homes, beautiful tree canopies everywhere with access to hydration stations, shade structures on every block, and reduced our dependency on plastics, cars, and fake foods. Perhaps I don’t need a wand; you can make this magic happen, and so can I.