In this April 19, 2022, file photo, the Bug Light lighthouse is seen in South Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

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It’s no secret that the threat of climate change is rapidly accelerating as humans introduce millions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere every day, however, sitting in the woods of Maine it can be hard to see how one’s own actions really have any impact on this. The numbers back this up: While the U.S. emits more than 12 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses, Maine represents about 0.4 percent of this fraction, leaving the average Mainer responsible for approximately 0.000000037 percent of global emissions.

While carbon accounting is far from an exact science, even if you stop driving your car and heating your house, or even if you convince all your friends and neighbors to do the same, the effect is a 0.00000 percent reduction.

It may be tempting for the takeaway here to be that taking action is pointless if the effect is so small, however, the real lesson should be the reason for doing so. In the true spirit of Dirigo, Maine can lead the charge on climate action, showing the world what is possible and inspiring action far beyond what any individual can do. From proving heat pumps can warm through our brutal winters to leading on creating resilient coastal communities, the world is already looking towards Maine in developing climate adaptations. While Maine alone cannot fix the planet-wide problem that faces us today, our actions can help show that these changes are feasible, affordable and critical to our common future.

Luke Bartol