Letter: Demanding climate action before it's too late

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Editor of the Reformer,

Open letter to Governor Scott about climate change and the budget:

Dear Governor Scott,

As you plan your budget, I hope you are prioritizing action on climate change and resiliency. I appreciate that you are one of the few Republican governors who joined the United States Climate Alliance, and that you convened the Vermont Climate Action Committee to provide recommendations for action. I know that Vermont is taking some tiny steps — weatherization bills, renewable energy initiatives, innovation grants.

But we are falling far short of the progress we need to reach our goal of 90 percent renewable by 2050. We need to start devoting significant time and energy — and money — to that goal. Yes, Vermont has many other pressing problems, but all of them will be dwarfed by climate change if we don't act now. The longer we wait, the worse the climate situation will get.

Let's start with the big one: fossil fuels. Every year, $1.8 billion leaves Vermont to purchase oil and gas. We are that much poorer and the world is that much more polluted (from both the extraction and the consumption) and there is that much more carbon in the atmosphere because of it. If we join other cities and states around the country in banning new fossil fuel infrastructure and investing in local renewable energy generation, we will create a stronger, more resilient Vermont and have a chance of holding climate change in check.

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As we work toward clean energy and energy independence, we must also invest in the health of our ecosystems. Here in Vermont we understand the importance of water quality, and we are learning about the potential for regenerative agriculture to draw carbon out of the atmosphere instead of emitting it. We've struggled with the consequences of polluting, and many of our livelihoods depend on healthy forests, farms, and waterways. As extreme weather events and fluctuating temperatures place increasing stress on the ecosystems that support life (including ours), we must work to reduce our impact. Development, agriculture, recreation — all human use of land should be pursued with an attitude of stewardship, promoting long-term soil health, water quality, and biodiversity.

Humans can be self-interested creatures, blind to the larger consequences of our lifestyles. Right now the past few centuries of self-interest are coming back to bite us. By pursuing profit and convenience over the well-being of the world we live in, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. We need to change the way we do things.

I know there are some Vermonters who don't understand why it's important to focus on climate solutions and resiliency and make big changes. But there are many of us — and I assure you that our number is growing daily — who don't understand why you are not taking stronger action to address this crisis and prepare for the challenges we face. We are here to support climate action, and many of us are working hard at the local level to do our part.

Please don't fail us.

Sincerely,

Marisa D. Keller

Brattleboro, Nov. 26


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