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Voices / Viewpoint

We must act now to address global rising temperatures

As a parent, I realize even more completely that it is not just time to focus on solutions, but it is time to fight for those solutions

Carly Reitsma, the mother of two young daughters, works as a gardener in the Brattleboro area and is part of a statewide project of 350.org, Mother Up!: Families Rise Up For Climate Justice. This piece was originally her testimony submitted to the Climate Solutions Caucus of lawmakers at the Statehouse in Montpelier. “The goal was to urge legislators to act boldly in supporting policies addressing climate change,” she writes.

Putney

Back in my mid-20s, I spent a year as a student at Marlboro College. I had arrived there with the aim of pursuing an interdisciplinary major involving anthropology and ecology. My goal was to look more closely at human cultures and ecological connection.

In my studies, I found as the prevailing theme an intertwining story of human and ecological conflict, injustice, and suffering. I realized that whether we like it or not, this is the story of the time we live in.

The more in depth I learned about these industries and the intricacy of their power and the link between their exploitation of the Earth and the majority of its inhabitants and climate change, the less hopeful I felt about all the good things left on this planet.

I certainly didn’t think I wanted to have kids of my own with such an uncertain future ahead. Having kids seemed like one of the most extreme acts of hope, and I wasn’t feeling very hopeful.

But then, well, I did have kids. Funny how that happens.

Around that time, I realized that I absolutely had to get hopeful. No choice about it. No more wallowing in hopelessness, or raging to no avail — time to focus on some solutions.

And now, a few years into the journey of being a parent, I realize even more completely that it is not just time to focus on solutions but it is time to fight for those solutions.

To fight for them to be recognized and to be put into action.

To demand that the air, and the water, and the soil, and the living things on this planet be respected and fiercely protected, instead of plundered and pillaged.

* * *

So what do we Vermonters want Vermont to do?

We want to end the development of fossil-fuel infrastructure. We want to develop a stronger system of public transportation that utilizes renewable energy.

We want renewable energy! We want to see real progress towards the goal of making the state 90 percent renewable by 2050.

We want to keep growing strong and resilient local-food economies.

We want regulations and policies that prioritize the protection and management of natural resources and favor the common good. Carbon pricing! Yes. We want systems that support sustainable ways of living and that make them accessible to the average person, to every person.

There are measures that must be taken to up our chances of making the necessary shift if we are going to address global rising temperatures and hope to protect life on Earth.

These measures may feel like they cost too much at first, but look at what is at stake.

* * *

Measures to address climate change at this point have to be real — they have to be big. It is up to us as regular people to make our demands and set our standards and be committed to acting on climate change in every aspect of our lives.

As citizens and consumers, we must strive to alter our lives and make the most responsible choices that we can. We must strive to have a long-term view and realize the absolute urgency with which we must act.

It is time to speak up and urge our elected officials to do everything within their power to further policies that support renewable energy, public transportation reform, carbon pricing, local food economies, and banning fossil-fuel development of any kind. Now.

It’s time to get organized and get serious about getting off fossil fuels and addressing climate change in every way we can — for the sake of my kids, and yours, and anything living on this Earth.

Vermont can be a leader in this fight. We have been a leader toward change before. This is our time, and we don’t have a choice — now we must really fight for the climate of our planet.

I urge to you attend Town Meeting on Tuesday, March 6 and vote yes on the resolution asking town and state legislators to take action on making Vermont 90-percent renewable by 2050.

We can win this fight — if we stand up and speak out for the future.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #448 (Wednesday, February 28, 2018). This story appeared on page D3.

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