By Kermit Hovey

When we confront a vast problem, we cannot settle for half-vast solutions. A vast problem confronts us with multiple huge adverse symptoms and negative effects and requires a correspondingly vast solution.

We confront one such vast problem in the climate crisis. The evidence clearly shows that climate change is really happening, really serious, really human caused, and we can still really do something about it if we act now.

To solve a vast problem, we must bridge the gap completely from where we are to where we need to be. Building such a bridge requires parts large and small, and we must put all of them in place. To leave out needed pieces and to stop assembling the bridge halfway across leaves us with an incomplete bridge. Such a half-vast solution can’t get us to the other side where we need to be.

Fortunately, many strive to design, create, and install the pieces of the bridge from the dirty fossil fuel–burning, climate-destroying world we live in to the clean energy–driven, livable climate–supporting world we need. Whether groups or individuals, governments or businesses, engineers or advocates, scientists or politicians, many minds and hands work on this.

At the individual level, we can pat ourselves on the back for shifting from gas to electric-powered transportation and lawn care tools, installing energy-efficient appliances and lighting, eliminating air travel as much as possible, and practicing democracy.

At the municipal level, we can celebrate that communities such as Middleton have passed referendums and resolutions calling for climate action and have conducted multi-community collaborations underwritten by the State Office of Energy Innovation to develop an energy efficiency plan for municipal operations.

At the county level, we can appreciate the Dane County Climate Action Plan and the provision of a large percentage of solar energy to Dane County government operations from the regional airport solar installation.

At the state level, we can applaud the Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change and its report that calls for policies that protect communities from increasing extreme weather events and executive action that allows government officials to freely discuss, report on, and address the reality of climate change.

At the federal level, we can salute executive action that withdraws permits for climate-destroying fossil fuel projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline and legislative action that advances bills such as the Growing Climate Solutions Act and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

At the industrial level, we can rejoice that coal-fired power plants are being retired and decommissioned at a remarkable pace in developed countries. The reduced toxic air pollution alone brings significant and overdue health benefits to frontline communities near them.

At the international level, we can cheer that the International Energy Agency has released a report detailing the imperative for climate action and specific steps for the world to take (Net Zero by 2050), that the next United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Conference of Parties (UN IPCC COP) climate conference is scheduled for this year to check on global progress in fulfilling the Paris agreement, and that the European Union is preparing plans for carbon border adjustments to penalize imports from countries that don’t price carbon emissions.

These pieces of the bridge, however necessary, will prove far from sufficient to traverse the chasm and reach where we need to go. They propose directions to take and policies to implement. They represent tangible installations and specific decisions that incrementally reduce fossil fuel combustion, carbon pollution, and associated climate change. Yet stopping after assembling these pieces of our bridge would leave us with a half-vast solution, a bridge halfway that is no bridge at all. We must piece by piece assemble the vast solution we need for the vast problem of climate change.

At the city, county, and state levels, we need implementation of those referendums and resolutions not just for governmental operations, but for every operation of every part of society that uses energy and releases carbon pollution.

At all levels from local to federal, we need to vote for and demand administrative and legislative consistency. From term to term and department to department, the government must steadily acknowledge the reality of global warming and the climate change it causes. It must persistently choose decisions and action to reduce and adapt to a changing climate. We must see strategic legislation not only advanced, but passed and signed into law.

At the industrial and international levels, we need to vote with our dollars and our ballots for the climate action we need.

So, let’s celebrate, appreciate, salute, rejoice, and applaud all that has and is being done to deal with the climate crisis. Let’s rest as needed, but let’s not rest on our laurels.

We must remain alert and engaged. We must let our government leaders know we want and support action to protect our common home along with the climate we all rely on to survive and thrive. Call and write your leaders from City Hall to the White House. Organize and collaborate with others to amplify and share that message through social media, traditional media, and direct action.

After all, a half-vast solution is not enough.

To help avoid a half-vast solution to the climate crisis, Kermit Hovey volunteers and leads in various groups including,,, Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors, and the Middleton Sustainability Committee to advocate for a livable, healthful world powered by clean energy and untainted by dirty fossil fuel pollution.

An earlier version of this post appeared in the Middleton Times Tribune.