By Rep. Nicole Grohoski
Last Friday, Sept. 20, people of all ages took to the streets worldwide to call for immediate and significant action to curb our climate change crisis. Right here in Hancock County, we had three climate strikes, including one on the Union River Bridge in Ellsworth. Around 70 people stood together here in solidarity with global youth who are asking for a healthier, safer and more just future.
There is no longer any scientific debate that the climate is changing. Here in Maine we are already experiencing it: regular record-setting temperatures, an increase in tick-borne illnesses, loss of property values associated with flooding caused by sea level rise and a Gulf of Maine warming faster than 99 percent of the planet’s oceans. The conversation has largely turned from “Is this happening?” to “What can we do?” It can be an overwhelming problem to face alone, but after the impressive global turnout last week, it is clear that we are in this together.
I believe that any action small or large is important. You can make changes in your own life, such as reducing your meat consumption, driving slower, planting a garden or trees, better insulating your house or installing solar, which is now very affordable. You can look into your investments and credit card providers to see if these companies support the fossil fuel industry, and switch to ones that do not. You can join the Ellsworth Green Plan or a similar group in your own community to advocate for renewable energy and energy conservation; more resilient lands and waters; local farms; or better walk, bike and public transit infrastructure. Most environmental initiatives make sense economically as well, which further benefits our community.
Equally important is to participate in the political process at all levels — from City Council to President. Learn where the candidates stand on climate change and vote accordingly. If you are not satisfied with candidates, encourage others to run or run yourself. Vote, and make sure that others can and do. Stay engaged in the process. We have made great strides in Maine with recent legislation to promote solar installations, train workers for this industry, transition to more renewable electricity generation and invest in our University of Maine’s groundbreaking Aqua Ventus floating offshore wind project, for example. We can and must push our leaders to go further, here at home, nationally and internationally.
It is unlikely at this point that we can reverse the climate change trajectory that we are on, but we can slow it down and better prepare for it with more time. Every hurricane that doesn’t escalate to Category 5, every acre of the rainforest that remains unburned, every road or house that doesn’t flood, every lobster that stays here in our waters rather than migrating north is a win. We must continue to take meaningful steps at every level toward the future that our youth are asking for.
Democrat Nicole Grohoski represents House District 132 (Ellsworth and Trenton).