Now, I’m working for an organization where I’ve also been involved for many year, the Community Foundation of Boulder County. The day of the fires, Foundation opened a Wildfire Relief Fund, and to date has raised over $31 million from 67,000 donors to distribute directly to families who lost their homes or work, help them navigate insurance, and increase capacity for mental health services, among other things that are still being determined. It’s amazing to see the outpouring of community support, but with an estimated billion dollars in damages, the need is just huge.
I really think of these fires in Boulder County as a climate disaster. So it’s been very interesting to work with the Community Foundation at the same time as being the Board Chair for Conservation Colorado. The first is a case study of a specific, immediate-term response to a climate disaster, while Conservation Colorado is focused on the long-term solutions at the policy level.
We know that climate change is already making environmental disasters more common, and I fear that the systems we have to respond to them aren’t up to the task in the long run. It’s not sustainable to leave it to the GoFundMes and the citizen philanthropists to raise millions of dollars every time a climate-fueled disaster happens. We need to build climate resilience into our systems going forward, to innovate on the level of our policies and institutions. And we also need to stop the worst impacts by doing everything we can to hit our climate targets now.