Juliet Cuming: Reversing the damage of climate change takes a group effort

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According to an article in this week's Nation magazine, "In an 18-month period, TV and print outlets gave 40 times more coverage to the Kardashians than to the acidification of oceans caused by rising temperatures" — and this was in 2012, before most of the really exciting Kardashian news was happening!

In the same article it was revealed that many networks avoid news about climate change because the news is "a ratings killer."

And yet climate change continues. We've all heard about it, most of us here in Vermont believe in it. Some of us know that some fairly conservative scientists have given us 12 years to turn it around. Others of us have heard that we've missed our window of opportunity and that it's too late, we've already started a downward spiral that will pick up speed over the next few years until life, as we have all known it, will be unrecognizable.

Some of us are dreaming of unexpected positive outcomes from the polar ice caps melting, hidden wisdom buried in the ice which will, before things get too ugly, save humanity from itself.

Others suggest that a layer of healthy soil will do much of the work for us. Agricultural sequestration practices not only sound like stuff Vermonters are already doing, turning more of the earth into carbon gobbling farms and gardens sounds fun and easy. Will it work? There's only one way to find out.

In Portland, Oregon last week some Extinction Rebellion activists took over the rail lines which bring dirty tar sands oil in from Canada, they brought in loads of soil, covered the rails and planted a garden. Just for good measure, they also brought in a tiny house thereby creating a tiny carbon sequestering farm right on top of the rail road.

I haven't heard yet whether the tiny farm has been destroyed. Maybe the Extinction Rebellion activists there will glue themselves to the rails. Over in London ( and in other parts of the world) the Extinction Rebellion folks seem to be using a lot of glue to affix themselves to places so that corporate bigwigs can't ignore them. I am going to need to do some research into what kind of glue they are using; I am assuming it is environmentally friendly.

Extinction Rebellion says that we need to mobilize 3.5 percent of the population in order to see real system change; 3.5 percent of the population of Vermont (which was 626,299 in 2018) is 21,920 people. Would 21,920 Vermonters commit themselves to doing something to reverse climate change?

I feel like spreading soil is not a problem, Vermont is covered in soil already. During mud season many of us are covered in soil, we could just walk around and sprinkle soil in any rare soil-free places we find ourselves. With just a bit more soil we'd probably get to the right percentage for carbon sequestering quite quickly. Who wants to try it?

Gluing ourselves to things is probably not going to be quite as popular. Most of us are pretty busy here, doing multiple jobs just to survive. Getting glued and then unglued takes time. (Not to mention that many of us might already be considered unglued!)

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As I tell my friends from other places- you don't come to Vermont for your career! But somehow many of us have carved out interesting entrepreneurial lives here. Maybe it's because Vermont is full of people who think differently, we're a state full of dreamers, artists, and activists.

Of course, not everyone here has the privilege of being a dreamer, we've got a lot of solid roots in the ground types here as well. Trouble is, many of the hardest working folks here in Vermont, the people working hourly jobs at barely livable wages, are the folks who are going to be hit first and hardest by climate change.

Maybe those of us who can, need to do the work to reverse climate change for those of us who can't. Would 21,920 Vermonters commit themselves to doing something to reverse climate change for the 68,000 Vermonters who live in poverty (11.3 percent of the population)?

Here in the Brattleboro area there are probably 500 people actively working on this issue day in and day out using a variety of methods. I'm guessing that up north in the Burlington area there's at least that many — that means we only need 20,920 more people to join in!

What are you going to do? I look forward to doing it together.

Here are some places for more ideas:

XR VT: actionnetwork.org/forms/xr-vermont-sign-up

extinctionrebellion.us

350 Vermont/Mother Up Website: 350vermont.org

Mother Up!: Families Rise Up for Climate Action: facebook.com/groups/1575656819412318

Juliet Cuming writes from Dummerston. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.


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