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As an environmental journalist, I am watching the Shaftsbury Solar discussion with great interest.
One concern is that the discussion is often framed as people who care about climate change (those favoring solar projects) vs. those more worried about their own assets (e.g., natural vistas) when the reality is more complex.
It must be said: We are not going to solar panel our way out of the climate crisis. Somehow climate change has been defined as an energy problem — a perspective that informs state policy. However, climate change is above all an ecological problem, which is not going to be solved by technology.
What’s been missing from the climate conversation is the role of healthy ecosystems in climate regulation. Forests are not merely sticks of carbon that can be offset by watts of solar power, and grass-covered expanses are not wastelands. Rather, our forests and pasturelands drive ecological processes that clean the air, govern the water cycle, buffer the wind, cool landscapes via transpiration, provide wildlife habitat and give us joy.
Here in Vermont we talk about “working landscapes”; it’s time to get real about how our landscapes work.
It’s time we grasped the fact that nature is our wealth and to value its gifts — before it gets carved up and sold to out-of-state investors in the guise of environmentall -friendly development.
Judith D. Schwartz