We must confront climate change and demand that government do, too

BRATTLEBORO — On Oct 20, environmental activists and concerned citizens from across the state joined at Geprags Park in Hinesburg to protest the fracked-gas pipeline that is being constructed by Vermont Gas through Addison County.

Across the country, battles are being waged against the development of fossil-fuel infrastructure. Some of these fights have drawn huge numbers of people; others are being enacted by small groups of brave citizens.

Even though I wasn't able to join the folks in Hinesburg, I pledge my support of them and their cause.

Not so long ago, I couldn't really think about climate change without feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. In 2006, after watching An Inconvenient Truth, I experienced a great sense of urgency to do what I could to combat global warming.

So I did what I thought the movie was suggesting. I changed my light bulbs, paid a slightly higher premium to join my electricity company's “green” plan and flew less. Then, I suppose I thought that the world's governments would listen to what their scientists were telling them and they'd figure it out.

Obviously, that didn't happen.

When I felt compelled to start thinking about climate change again a decade later, the world had become warmer, we had a lot less ice at both poles, we'd experienced a deadly uptick in extreme weather events, and we'd pumped over 600 trillion tons of carbon dioxide into our one and only atmosphere. I suspect that unwieldy numbers like that are part of why it's easy to feel overwhelmed about climate change.

Today, I can still feel discouraged by our lack of progress and overwhelmed by the wealth of information out there, but I am no longer one person dealing with these emotions on my own.

Reading Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything and Bill McKibben's Eaarth showed me that committed, creative, and hopeful groups of people are working for climate justice all over the globe.

In Brattleboro, I was thankful to connect with townspeople at the monthly Climate Change Café organized by Post Oil Solutions. I have been empowered by 350 Vermont (the statewide chapter of Bill McKibben's 350.org) to help launch a local node here in town.

Talking honestly with others about the climate crisis and reading the news and books about climate change have left me with a couple of options. Either I can accept the reality of our situation and demand that our governments do the same, or I can ignore the truth and keep sleepwalking toward a disaster.

I hope that some of you who have been feeling the same way might take this opportunity to join with others and let the powerful know what you stand for - and what you oppose.

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