Public-private cooperation urged to prepare for climate change

George Hamilton (right), president of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, was joined by Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding (center) and other officials Monday at a news conference in Waterbury on ways to mitigate the effects of climate change on Vermont. Photo courtesy Institute for Sustainable Communities

George Hamilton (right), president of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, was joined by Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding (center) and other officials Monday at a news conference in Waterbury on ways to mitigate the effects of climate change on Vermont. Photo courtesy Institute for Sustainable Communities

WATERBURY — Federal and state officials want to improve Vermont’s resilience to the severe weather that has scarred the state in recent years and, they say, threatens to increase due to climate change.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities has been gathering feedback from residents for a plan to mitigate the impact of natural disasters since the fallout of Tropical Storm Irene, which devastated the state with heavy rain and flooding in 2011.

At a Waterbury news conference inside the State Emergency Operations Center overlooking the construction site of the former Department of Environmental Conservation’s offices flooded by Irene, speakers announced two reports on resilience and disaster damage prevention that call for more statewide collaboration and smarter land use policies.

Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding said as the post-Irene recovery continues, the state must begin to implement a resilience strategy to better prepare for the growing frequency of extreme weather associated with a changing climate.

“What we are here today to talk more specifically about is what we can do to prepare in advance for natural disasters, what kind of steps we can take to lessen the impacts of the weather and … learn from the experiences of not only ourselves, but other states and other countries, as a matter of fact,” he said.

Spaulding said the reports will receive the attention of the state’s highest office holders.

George Hamilton, president of the Montpelier-based Institute for Sustainable Communities, which prepared one of the reports on resilience, said Vermont’s climate is now comparable to Virginia’s in the 1960s. The state should begin planning to mitigate the inevitable changes associated with the erratic weather patterns tied to the transformation of the Earth’s climate.

Two reports on planning for climate change were released Monday. Photo courtesy Institute for Sustainable Communities

Two reports on planning for climate change were released Monday. Photo courtesy Institute for Sustainable Communities

The institute’s report, titled “Vermont’s Roadmap to Resilience, Preparing for Natural Disasters and the Effects of Climate Change in the Green Mountain State,” features 23 recommendations ranging from predicting the weather to collaboration between state departments, communities and the private sector.

Hamilton said the state must build “regional capacity” to better implement mitigation strategies, including public and private partnerships.

Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest electricity utility, and IBM, a multinational technology corporation, should begin analyzing data, he said, to evaluate weather risks three days in advance, Hamilton said.

Robert Dostis, director of government affairs for Green Mountain Power, said the utility has spent about $30 million in reliability projects, such as moving transmission lines closer to the road for easy maintenance.

Hamilton added that with reductions in federal funding for disaster recovery, state departments, as well as other levels of government, must collaborate to better determine risks and build disaster prevention strategies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will soon close its Williston offices, has spent more than $185 million in Vermont since Irene.

The report recommends building a statewide association, called the Vermont Strong Network, he said. Hamilton said this learning network will be used to better understand the “new dynamic” of climate change.

A similar report released Monday, “Vermont State Agency Policy Options, Disaster Recovery and Long-Term Resilience Planning in Vermont,” highlights specific tasks for each of the state’s agencies and departments. The report was drafted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and FEMA.


  1. People refuse to come to grips with the fact that significant sacrifice of “life style” is needed to reduce our carbon footprint–gas rationing just for starters.

    • Bruce Post :

      Thank you very much for your observation about “lifestyle” and for putting that word in quotes. I remember the idiom “get a life”; I never heard anyone say, “Get a lifestyle!”

      Here is an interesting post about rationing: It is a presentation by Stan Cox, who is associated with Wes Jackson’s The Land Institute.

      Also, one rant about the ubiquity of the word “resilience.” Some marketer must have come up with that, and now, we see have “Vermont’s Roadmap to Resilience, Preparing for Natural Disasters and the Effects of Climate Change in the Green Mountain State.”

      The VNRC recently published it own paean to resilience:

      To its credit, VNRC included an essay by former State Archivist Greg Sanford titled “The Unresilient Vermonter: Challenging the Notion of Resilience.” It is worth a read. I liked this observation by Greg: “There is too much false comfort in resilience, in the thought that, whatever we do, we can simply undo.” Amen!

    • Jim Barrett :

      People refuse to recognize that global warming is not man made but due to solar activity. Changes in weather patterns have being going on since the beginning of time and will continue. While Vermont has thousands of people who are hungry, this bunch in Montpelier is working hard to control something they can’t. 185 million spent on this the global warming farce since hurricane Irene, shameful!

      • Bob Stannard :

        Jim, I think when you refer to “people refuse to recognize that global warming is not manmade…” that you are referring to yourself. I think something like 90% of the world’s scientist disagree with you. Then again, you may be smarter than all of them.

      • phil krajewski :

        Jim – although you are right that weather patterns of warming and cooling have been going on since the beginning of Earth, this cycle is unique. In ALL other times that Earth has warmed the temperature went up first and the CO2 buildup happened second. The reason was as the ice ages retreated (temp rise) Earth was made ready again for the growth of plants – and – plants respire CO2 constantly as they breathe. Although with photosynthesizes they take in CO2 and give off oxygen- at night it is the opposite. This present cycle is the FIRST time that the CO2 buildup came first and the temperature rise came second. And, the CO2 buildup is coming from we and our human activity. I think naysayers either are hung up on ideology and have an agenda or are too self important and just dont realize it.

        • Paul Lorenzini :

          Yes the climate change aristocracy feels it is to important and hung up on ideology. That is a perfect description phil. They are the ones that feel the most self important, wouldn’t you agree?
          CO2 is an important part of plant growth is it not?
          Common sense is just a road bump to ideological, self important, global warming propagandist’s.
          I need to take my common sense elsewhere, where it is not discriminated against.
          Do you care more about individuals or the common good which in effect is a policy of mass discrimination by self important ideologues?
          Don’t bother,I can already guess the answer to that.

          • phil krajewski :

            You lost me on that one Paul

          • Paul Lorenzini :

            You commented on naysayers being hung up on ideology and self importance.
            The same traits apply to the climate change profiteers to a large degree.
            Saving the world from your fellow man would make you feel important right?
            You cannot see that a huge part of the motivation to regulate CO2 is money and jobs for the wasteful overspending government and their cronies in corporations and universities?

          • phil krajewski :

            A scientist compiling data and submitting the information for peer review and having the study subsequently being published would not fall into the category of being an ideologue. Conversely I would be willing to grant the same status of being a scientist to a person who’s studies have shown that climate change is much less or has no connection to human activity provided that their studies have passed peer review and have been published. Do you know of any Paul that I can review?? For someone to ‘pull out of a hat’ the opinion that climate change is a hoax or is not being exacerbated by humans without citing sound scientific evidence is an ideologue and has an agenda.
            Also we live in a capitalistic society with profit the key motive whether you are selling lemonade or making cars. I would have no problem with the motivation being money of a movement that sought to retool the existing energy developing structure into one which developed a structure that was less offensive to the environment.

        • Phil,

          You are making up stories that are at variance with the facts.

          The Little Ice Age, 1450 – 1850, had its coldest temperatures in the 1780s.


          The CO2 did not begin to rise until the late 1800s, about 120 years AFTER the temperature began to rise.

          It is all explained, with URLs, in the first of the below three articles.

  2. Don Peterson :

    Resource depletion has a recognized lifecycle, sort of like the 5 stages of grief I suppose– not until we completely destroy our environment will we admit that thrift is the only way home.

    Until we accept the finite nature of resources, we are not a viable species. Of all the beings on earth, only first world humans create vast landfills.

  3. Paul Lorenzini :

    My opinion on climate change is simple.
    The Ice Age was not that long ago.
    Of course the climate changes, what are we stupid?
    Nope, just gullible when it comes to scientific “facts.”
    I would ask how many climate change “true believers” have ever done any investigation into Climategate, or do you just blindly follow the hype and propaganda that humans are effecting climate significantly.
    Climate change or global warming or global cooling or whatever the fashionable term is today is just a way to make people afraid and easy to control. It really comes down to conserving oil, which is a finite resource, and climate change fear is a great tool for that.
    20000 years ago the planet was covered in mile deep ice, and I don’t think it was human induced climate change that melted it, or am I wrong?
    Go ahead, spread, and succumb to, the fear of climate change if it makes you feel better.
    Hey it’s great for getting tax breaks!

    • Dave Thurlow :

      1. 20,000 years ago (up to about 12,000 years ago actually), 5 percent of the earth was covered with glacial ice, not 100 percent as stated above. It’s about 2-3 percent now I believe.
      And yes the glacial ice melted back due to natural cycles in the climate then; but, I never understood the logic that says because climate changed naturally in the past it can’t change with the assistance of humans now. It’s just a faulty attempt at a syllogism (climate change then was “natural”, the climate is changing now, therefore it is now changing “naturally”) You could use the same line of logic to conclude that people can only die of natural causes or forest fires can only start by lightning… or a whole bunch of other stupid stuff. It shows the problem of applying common sense to complex science.

      2.” Climategate” has been thoroughly debunked, laughed at, swept away… Six exhaustive official investigations – including the National Academy of Science, NOAA, and National Science Foundation — have cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing or fudging any data, and found several climate skeptics to be distorting the facts.

      • Paul Lorenzini :

        I didn’t say 100%, you did. Way to misrepresent things.
        This is the typical approach of institutional intelligentia when confronted with pesky common sense.
        Six exhaustive official investigations by the climate change community that cannot even give a solid 10 day forecast?
        I wonder what Nostradamus had to say about climate change.
        Believe what you are told, but I’ll believe what I see, thank you.
        I assume you trust all internal investigations are truly looking for the truth and have no interest in self preservation.
        By the way, I believe in conserving oil, and the earth in general, but not because of Global Climate Fear.
        I think we are putting way way too much faith in a “science” of predicting the future.
        Every day the climate changes, in case you didn’t know, and there is not damn thing we can do to manipulate it.

        • Paul Lorenzini :

          Sorry I misspoke on that last statement, we can definitely do things to ruin the climate, and I support efforts based on common sense to prevent that. I just don’t believe CO2 is as bad as the propaganda tells us. 390 parts per MILLION of a basically inert gas is that dangerous? I really cannot believe that.

      • Dave,
        Your 5% number is not relevant.

        “The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) refers to a period in the Earth’s climate history when ice sheets were at their maximum extension, between 26,500 and 19,000–20,000 years ago,[1] marking the peak of the last glacial period. During this time, vast ice sheets covered much of North America, northern Europe and Asia.”

        20,000 years ago, the amount of water tied up in ice was at least 100 times greater than at present.

        What counts is how it affected the climate.

        People did live in caves in Spain, Southern France, Caucasus, Southern Italy, in the winter, but the climate in these areas was much colder.

        As animals migrated north in summer, these people stayed with them to be near their food supply.

  4. Kathy Nelson :

    Paul, an excellent comment. Very true.

    • Alex Prolman :

      I hope that was sarcasm, Kathy?

      Scientists are more certain that humans have caused climate change than they are that tobacco causes cancer.

      The only reason that Paul (and many others) can deny the science of climate change is because the major fossil fuel companies spend many millions of dollars on disinformation campaigns, funding obviously false “studies” and contrarian talking heads to try to make us believe there’s some confusion (or even a conspiracy) about the issue. This is a tactic taken straight from the tobacco industry’s book, and is unfortunately quite successful.

      • Paul Lorenzini :

        The scientists are all knowing! That is the funniest thing I have ever heard Alex.

        • Paul Lorenzini :

          I forgot to mention that I am receiving millions in payments from major oil corporations to argue sense vs science.

      • Kathy Nelson :

        Alex, my comment was directed at Paul’s first comment (17 Dec, 8:40am), but I agree with all his other comments as well. And if you are worried about disinformation you ought to take offense at the fearmongering and technical lies dished out by the AWEA (American Wind Energy Association). I don’t buy Koch Brother conspiracy theories either.
        Cleaning up our pollutants will not stop an ice age from occurring but it may make our planet a healthier place for us to survive – if nature so decrees.

  5. Barry Kade :

    Some folks fail to differentiate “climate” from “weather.”
    It is unfortunate that this post has degenerated into a debate about the truth of climate change, even though all seem to realize that it is happening. The discussion should be about how to prepare for it.
    What will it do to the ski industry? Should that industry be allowed to use fossil fuels to make snow?
    How will changing climate affect Vermont’s agriculture? Is the attempt to save dairy ignoring more sustainable possibilities under current and predicted future climate?
    Preparing for climate change means much more than preparing for weather disasters.

    • Paul Lorenzini :

      Should rich flatlanders be allowed to hop in their gas guzzling jet airplanes or V8 Audis and drive their butts to VT?
      I think so.
      What do you think should be allowed Barry?
      And yes I would be considered a degenerate by some circles.

      • Paul,

        Montpelier needs the sales, room and meals, gasoline taxes they pay to ski, enjoy Vermont, etc.,, before it is too late.

        Vermont will be called the RE state, as energy producing systems will be everywhere.

  6. Annette Smith :

    Today ANR issued the permits for the Deerfield Wind project, proposed by Iberdrola for USFS land in southern Vermont.

    These permits allow the equivalent of two Wal-Mart parking lots in the headwaters of Wilmington. Remember Wilmington? Flooding? Irene?

    Does one hand know what the other is doing? Water flows downhill. Water flows faster when the forest floor is turned into a parking lot surface. And there is more water because groundwater is encountered during construction.

    Hard to take this state government seriously when it comes to this topic.

    • Annette,

      Don’t sell them short, they KNOW what they are doing, which is aiding and abetting multi-millionaires-with-tax-shelters to avoid taxes on their big incomes and become even more wealthy, all in the name of fighting global warming, AND at the expense of almost all others, who will be yoked to the higher electric rates to come.

  7. Carl Werth :

    Seriuosly, Annette – it seems our state government will do its very best to save our environment by destroying it.

  8. Townsend Peters :

    The re-emergence of George Hamilton to urge Vermonters to plan for climate change shows that Vermont does recycle but maybe should not always do so.

    This is the same George Hamilton who, while working for Gov. Kunin in 1988, led the charge for the weak-kneed planning law known as Act 200, which somehow managed to avoid have the state actually perform meaningful planning and at the same time arouse the ire of property rights advocates.

    And, though the issue of climate change was on the radar even back then, Act 200 did not push Vermont in an real way to plan for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions or for the impacts of climate change.

    Now the horse is out of the barn, so to speak, and Mr. Hamilton re-emerges to tell us all to plan now for what we should have been planning for decades ago. There may still be actions we can take, but one should be hesitant on relying on the recommendations of this messenger.

  9. Tom Bisson :

    Wouldn’t it be great if people could talk about this issue without arguing and name calling.

    Anyway, I like the fact that someone is looking at possible effects that climate change will have on Vermont in the future. I have seen predictions that Vermont’s climate will be more like southern New England or New Jersey. If that happens (sounds plausible) then I would also predict a population migration to Vermont. What should Vermont do to plan and prepare for population growth?

  10. Paul Lorenzini :

    We are preparing for population growth by driving people out of Vermont. The population is shrinking. They are already on it.

    • Paul,

      Scare business away and out of Vermont, which will leave behind those who cannot move and need government programs to survive.

      Bernie will be in his glory chasing down federal dollars. He deserves a stsaue in Burlington.

  11. walter moses :

    only the blue collar and the lower middle class in general, Paul. That should make room for awhile. while gas rationing makes sense to some for my 38mpg toyota, the governor cruises in his Lincoln. what was it? an 82 mph speeding ticket in 2012?

    • Walter,

      He was on a Samaritan mission to “buy “some real estate from Mr. Dodge.


    I have to laugh when people that buy into this scam never take the time to get informed. Maybe you “Global Warmist” should get on a ship and go to Antarctica to film the collapsing ice bergs, oh, but wait, you should bring a back up rescue ship and, oh yeah, you’ll need another back up ship because the back up ship might get stuck… the ice.

  13. Paul Lorenzini :

    This debate must continue, please digger do more climate change articles.



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