‘Bringing It All Back Home’: How Vermont Can Lead on Localizing the Climate Fight

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/31-8

by Bill McKibben
Published on Thursday, January 31, 2013 by Common Dreams

Environmentalist Bill McKibben, author of some of the most widely read literature on climate change and co-founder of the group 350.org, brought his message about the dangers of global warming to lawmakers in his home state of Vermont on Wednesday, telling members of the Statehouse assembly that every state government (like every nation large and community small) must do what it can to meet the challenge—the greatest one ever faced by humanity—posed by climate change. Courtesty of the author, his full prepared remarks follow:

It is a great and signal honor for me to be here at my second-favorite legislative body on the planet. You are actually a match for the Ripton Town Meeting in wisdom, civility, and earnest effort, falling short only in the selection of baked goods. I look forward to the first Tuesday in March for many reasons, but the most important are probably these particular maple cream cookies that my neighbor Barry King always bakes; since our great mutual friend Willem Jewett is now your Majority Leader, perhaps he can bring some up some time, because that’s really all you’re missing.

I’d like to thank Speaker Smith for this invitation, and also for his clarion call to this great assembly to make climate change a priority; I know he will meet with a good reception, because just a quick glance around the chamber reveals some of the country’s most devoted environmental legislators. Tony Klein, Margaret Cheney—and from your sister body the Senate I want to take a moment to salute Ginny Lyon for her hard work over the years. Of course Governor Shumlin has been a leader on this issue throughout his career, in both legislative and executive capacities—and also as an outstanding communicator. His straightforward declaration, from the first morning of our trauma with Irene, that it was an effect of climate change is a model of the way we need our leaders to talk about the world we find ourselves in.

It is that world I want to address today. I know that you all know about climate change, but I want to take just a couple of minutes to bring you up to date scientifically. I wrote the first book for a general audience about what we then called the greenhouse effect, way back in 1989. At that time, few anticipated how rapidly the crisis would advance. So far human beings have raised the planet’s temperature about a degree Celsius—a quarter century ago few scientists predicted the effects of that relatively small increase. But the earth turned out to be very finely balanced. The extra solar energy trapped by carbon in the atmosphere—less than three quarters of a watt per square meter of the earth’s surface—has already done very large things. This past summer, for instance, saw the catastrophic melt of the Arctic ice sheet—there’s now, by area, half the ice that Neil Armstrong saw when he looked down from the moon.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/31-8

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