Climate action now
Thank you to the BDN for the Feb. 21 e ditorial suggesting our increased climate change awareness might translate into increased action. It joins increased media coverage on climate concerns, much from the younger generation. Although the BDN identifies shortcomings of the Green New Deal, we must not dismiss its loud, clear statement from youth, amplified by student strikes across Europe and elsewhere.
I teach Maine youth. As conversation grows about the upcoming student strike on March 15, I am encouraged by additional options including the “modest” bill, HR 763, mentioned in the editorial.
I don’t know enough economics to have authority on the matter, but I know enough to trust leading economists — who, the Washington Post reported in January, say we need a price on carbon. The “modest” bill is just that, and it is viable bipartisan legislation.
Bill McKibben pointed out in the New Yorker Saturday that Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s “I know what I’m doing” comment doesn’t ring true. Congress doesn’t have it covered, despite having the tools. If my generation is to look kids in the eye and tell them to respect our current social structure, we must each play our own roles by insisting that our leaders like Susan Collins, Angus King and Jared Golden use the tools we have, now.
A wish from a ‘wish-cycler’
As an avid recycler, I avoid items in non-recyclable containers, going so far as to pass on a cup of coffee, not dining at restaurants that use polystyrene products for take-out, purchasing items that may cost a little more because I can recycle the packaging — even carrying my trash (and sometimes others’) home in order to recycle it.
I recently learned that in am a “wish-cycler,” someone who puts everything in the bin that I think should be recycled. I now see the error of my ways. I have been contributing to the increase in contamination of recyclables, resulting in batches of mostly recyclable material being deposited in landfills, and costing us more land, money, time and effort.
We only have one planet, and it really doesn’t take that much effort once you have a good system — from my point of view, it’s well worth it.
There is a bill at the State House, LD 621 An Act to Prohibit Extruded Polystyrene Food Service Containers. If passed, this bill will eliminate the use of polystyrene containers by food establishments across Maine. At some point or another we have all gotten coffee in a polystyrene cup, taken our leftovers home in a polystyrene clamshell box, used polystyrene plates and bowls at a birthday party or cookout.
This law takes polystyrene off the table — literally— and out of our dumpsters, landfills and incinerators. I implore you to write or call your local legislators urging them to support this bill, making Maine the first state in the nation to pass a law addressing polystyrene waste.
We can’t afford to wait
Two proposals for reducing carbon emissions being debated are the Green New Deal and HR 763. The GND is just a resolution, not a bill, which addresses a wide range of social issues as well as climate change.
This resolution may spawn bills at some point in the future, but such bills are for now just birds in the bush. HR 763 is a bird in hand, an actual bill introduced in the House in January with the goal of charging fossil fuel companies a fee for the harmful gases they emit into our atmosphere.
Fees collected would be returned as dividends to households to help citizens afford conversions to clean energy. Supporters of the GND would be wise to recognize and HR 763 and support it as way to achieve the GNDs environmental goals. We simply can’t afford to dither for decades.
A recent UN report points out that we’re running out of time: failure to greatly reduce emission during the next 12 years will cause suffering and poverty for millions of people.
Thank you, BDN, for helping to inform people, as with your Feb. 21 editorial about climate change. I urge you now to go one step further: actually endorse HR 763, or whatever you may think of as a better plan.
Fern Crossland Stearns