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My Turn: Simple ways to get informed, involved on climate change



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Climate is what is going on in the blanket of air that keeps our planet habitable, a planet that is mostly water. How does this relate to land conservation?

I accepted the invitation to address the People’s Climate March at the Energy Park in Greenfield to give some examples of land conservation strategies that make a difference in our time of climate change. What I said went like this:

We, the people, care about the land, water, and air. We, the people, care about our brothers and sisters across town, across the country and around the world.

We have just one world, one planet, one fragile atmosphere.

Together we stopped the NED Pipeline. We gathered. We educated ourselves and everyone we could. We spoke up. We called our legislators. And some of us, like Julia Blyth of Northfield, ran for office once we won.

Remember Rachel Carson? Around the time I was born she wrote “Silent Spring” and brought on the ban of DDT. Now, eagles are back and they remind us that the people can reverse the course of ignorance.

In 1951, Rachel Carson wrote four pages on the topic of climate change in her book, “The Sea Around Us.” Action is what we need today. The climate has already changed and will be changing even more.

If you love land, you love physics. The word physics comes from phusike in ancient Greek, meaning “knowledge of nature.” Physics describes the mechanics of how our world works.

As Professor Nate Fortune of Smith College recently said at a presentation sponsored by the North Quabbin Energy Committee, “Physics is something to understand, not something to ‘believe in.’”

Understanding the basics of climate change is much easier than understanding the mechanics of a car, or even of a bicycle. Climate change is a matter of CO2 — that’s not so hard. We get the H2O cycle. We definitely get the importance of O2 — oxygen.

Now, back to land conservation and the climate. As trees (and let’s not forget the phytoplankton in the oceans) photosynthesize CO2, they provide the O2 that life needs. Conservation saves trees. That’s great in itself, but, we are getting more strategic than that.

Here are five ways you can partner with Mount Grace and others to take strategic conservation actions to limit and adapt to climate change and climate change impacts:

1. Support conserving corridors and large blocks of conservation land. Check out the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFW) Wildlife Adaptation Strategy. Conserving corridors is Goal #1.

2. Check out this guide: “Conserving Nature in a Changing Climate.” In it is a 27-page case study on Mount Grace’s exercise back in 2013 with our conservation partners in the North Quabbin. Using data from The Nature Conservancy, we created a priority map of the most resilient lands to protect. Every single project we do is measured for its resiliency potential.

3. Something Mount Grace and others do is to bring up climate change during walks and presentations on other topics. To build buy-in, we can’t always lead with the gloomy climate change topic. For example, during wildlife tracking events we talk about wildlife habitat corridors and climate change. During our Senator Wetmore Memorial Fishing Hole dedication, we talked about how trout are dependent on cold water streams.

4. Everyone is welcome to use the brochure our MassLIFT AmeriCorps members created for town boards. It introduces climate change in lay terms and focuses on the local level.

5. Resisting the NED pipeline was a land stewardship issue for Mount Grace. We know we should avoid unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure that both damages land and exacerbates harm to the air and water we rely on. Beyond that, Mount Grace hopes to become part of a community solar project. Immediate land stewardship actions we can all take part in, like getting rid of invasive species, resizing culverts, and building with local wood, will help make the landscape, and the atmosphere, we love more resilient.

You can find links to these resources at www.mountgrace.org. So, please: gather. educate. Speak up. Call your Legislators. Our actions do make a difference. Thank you!

 

Leigh Youngblood is the Executive Director of Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, which serves twenty-three towns in Franklin and Worcester counties. Find us at ValleyGives.com.