The Linn County Board of Supervisors has hired Tamara Marcus as Linn County’s first sustainability program manager.
As sustainability program manager, Marcus will lead efforts to recommit the County to a more sustainable present and future. One of her first objectives is to complete a Greenhouse Gas Inventory to assess current emission levels and use this inventory to develop a climate action plan to meet targets laid out in the County climate resolution passed late last year by the Linn County Board of Supervisors. She will also collaborate with experts from ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) to support this work. This work will also be supported through the recently formed Linn County Sustainability Council. The Sustainability Council will be tasked with evaluating how key departments such as Planning and Development, Public Health, Facilities, and Conservation can more effectively work towards meeting the goals encompassed in the climate resolution through innovative initiatives. Marcus will also explore how the County may build out a Sustainability Department to more aggressively and equitably address issues of climate adaptation and work towards a more environmentally just future. Marcus will provide regular updates on progress of this work through editorials, public forums, and other communication channels. She believes that this communication and engagement component will be critical in educating the public on the urgent need to address climate change as well as to receive feedback on what communities need most to support the transition to a more sustainable Linn County.
"Climate change is more than polar bears and ice caps, it means more intense storms, a greater number of catastrophic disaster events, and billions of dollars of damage and lives lost. We must take swift action to cut our emissions, rebuild sustainably, and provide adequate services for climate adaptation, especially for our most vulnerable communities. I look forward to putting my skills to work in Linn County," Marcus said.
Marcus is a former Fulbright scholar where she completed two years of climate change research in the Indian Himalaya and working with local communities to translate her physical science research into local conservation policy. Tamara is a Ph.D. candidate in the Natural Resources and Earth System Sciences Ph.D. program at the University of New Hampshire. Her research interests include using bioinformatic techniques to understand the impact of warming on microbial mediation of carbon emissions from Arctic lakes. Additionally, she studies how indigenous communities access weather and climate data to better understand how to make results from climate research more accessible and applicable to individuals and communities. Using a combination of survey data and storytelling, she works with Sami communities and indigenous Australians to record environmental change observed by the traditional owners of the land. Through this work, Marcus hopes to promote collaborative development of conservation policy by both scientists and indigenous communities. Ms. Marcus has been a Switzer fellow, a NASA New Hampshire Space Grant fellow, and a National Center for Atmospheric Research fellow and completed her B.S. in biochemistry and English from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
“As Iowa continues to experience more devastating climate-related weather events with greater frequency, the addition of Tamara Marcus to lead our sustainability efforts couldn’t come at a better time,” said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, who spearheaded the effort to develop the sustainability program at the County. “When it comes to climate change, we know we’re on the clock, and while no single government or organization can save us, we must all do our part.”
The Linn County Board of Supervisors created this new sustainability program manager position to further Linn County’s commitment to environmental sustainability and resource protection. Linn County’s previous sustainability work includes:
- Declaring a climate crisis in 2019 and signing a resolution committing to accelerated action to address the crisis in collaboration with other governments and community organizations
- Including high energy efficiency standards in construction projects
- Encouraging use of alternative and renewable energy through the Linn County Comprehensive Plan
- Promoting personal health and environmental protection in the Linn County Strategic Plan
- Receiving a Gold designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar
- Becoming a designated Small Wind Innovation Zone (SWIZ) by the Iowa Utilities Board
- Signing a resolution in 2017 in support of the objectives of the Paris Agreement and approving Linn County’s registration in the “We Are Still In” coalition, which marked Linn County’ s commitment to continue honoring the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the principles of energy efficiency, energy conservation, and sustainability.