Terrifying predictions, depressing statistics and rancorous debate characterize much of the public discourse on climate change. At times, all the negative noise seems to be paired with a sort of paralysis. At the same time, people are changing.
Change is coming from all sectors of society. Some of the change is coming from the government. Vermont state officials pushed the federal government to fund larger culverts that could handle the bigger floods we can expect with climate change. The state has also begun pushing the public to adopt electric vehicles while preparing to transition its own fleet.
The private and voluntary sectors are also changing. Green Mountain Power is partnering with the city of Rutland to make it the solar energy capital of Vermont. Environmental groups like 350.org campaign for curtailing carbon emissions. Academics are partnering with farmers to study biodiesel. Change is also coming from members of the public, like the couple who started an agricultural trend by experimenting with growing rice in southern Vermont.
There are many, many other ways governments, industry, nonprofits, and the public are mitigating and adapting to climate change. A focus on solutions and adaptations can come across like Pollyanna: everything’s going to be fine because of all these sparkly new innovations and heart-swelling grassroots efforts.
Climate scientists make it abundantly clear that everything is not going to be fine. Global society continues to roll past major milestones: it’s too late to stop the warming, it’s probably too late to even keep it to 2 degrees Celsius, and it’s too late to prevent widespread suffering. Despite the terrifying predictions, people are starting to move, especially in Vermont.
Following is a gallery of some of the things Vermonters are doing to address climate change.