Forum

It’s up to us to change energy usage

In light of conclusions drawn in Glasgow last week, we all must make different choices at home, in the workplace, within our communities, and in our places of worship. We really need to move beyond “business as usual.” Each of us can improve our energy and resource use and we must demand changes in our communities, as well.

At the best estimate, we literally have 8-14 years to make a serious turnaround. We can do this! Some businesses, industries, and communities are already taking important steps in doing so; please encourage them to continue and demand that others do more.

We must continue to contact the various decision-makers around us, including our employers, businesses we patronize, and our legislators and other local officials. A carbon fee and dividend plan, recommended by the bipartisan Citizens Climate Lobby, will help businesses and energy providers to better plan for our future. It will also help to offset costs to the consumer as rates change.

Please add your voice to organizations that demand rapid and significant changes toward energy efficiency and sustainable resource use. Accordingly, also please withdraw your support for industries, organizations, and businesses that deny the climate crisis.

Evidence of climate-related chaos is increasing: wildfires, drought, extreme rainfall, sea level rise, storm damage, etc. Each of those events brings additional costs for repairs and/or reconstruction. We need to plan smarter and get ready for more and greater events like these. More people will be affected and it will cost more if we wait. We really must demand change now! Please help by speaking out, offering to learn, and being an example for others. Let your light shine.

CAROL LANDIS

Johnson City

Take steps to fix social worker shortage

COVID-19 has continued to inundate our local hospitals, unemployment offices, insurance agencies, and social service programs with more demand than they can handle. The unforeseen effects of quarantine have caused an uptick in the need for social workers.

The Family Justice Center of Washington County is one example of a social service that has seen a surge in clientele. Their practice provides resources for individuals in human trafficking, domestic abuse, and sexual violence which have all increased with COVID. Without adequate support and connection to social workers, they are unable to regularly check in on their clients or continue to provide necessary resources in developing situations.

This issue however is not limited to the public sector and has taken its toll on private entities as well. Ballad Health’s Vice President of Health Programs Paula Masters has seen the implications of reduced social support providers as caseloads increase and timely access decreases. Masters explained that 60-80% of health needs can’t be addressed within hospital care, making social support providers imperative in their work outside the hospital.

The best way to reduce this need is to make social work a more appealing job field. The caseload, secondary traumatic disorder, and low wages cause burnout and repels people from entering the career. These factors continue to exacerbate the problem as they continue to worsen with the ongoing pandemic.

Giving scholarship incentives, student debt forgiveness, increased oversight, and opportunities for job ascension will help lessen the unpleasant elements of the social work profession. With these programs in place, individuals would be more willing to become social workers and stay in the field. An increase in potential employees, less turnover, and reduced financial stress will help alleviate the often demanding field of social work.

DESIREE RODRIGUEZ

Johnson City

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