We Got This: Let’s Create Community-Action List to Mitigate Climate Crisis Impacts
April 15, 2020
Not to pick on the speaker of House, who in mid-January told Boston Globe reporter Dan McGowan that “there’s nothing Rhode Island can do to address climate change in a way that is real or impactful,” because his narrow view of the issue is shared by many for reasons that are selfish, ignorant, and/or ideological.
I don’t pretend to know what caused Nicholas Mattiello to utter such nonsense, but common sense and obligation say otherwise. All his stale take does is push responsibility onto others. It’s a coward’s response to a crisis. It’s impotence when leadership is required. We’ve experienced plenty of this recently.
It’s time to move on from the coalition of the unwilling. Their time has passed. A new beginning awaits. It needs to start now.
There are plenty of things the state of Rhode Island and its residents can do to lessen the impacts of the man-made climate crisis. Many are easy. Others are more difficult. Some wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime. Most would be beneficial to the economy, environment, and public health.
During a lengthy phone conversation I had with retired Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management staffer Rick Enser for a story we recently published, the ecologist put forth several ideas: when the global pandemic is over, continue to allow some state employees to work from home; electrify the state’s fleet of vehicles; reduce the state’s use of fossil fuels by simply mowing less.
“Does the Statehouse lawn need to be mowed every week?” he asked. “State government and its agencies can set an example for businesses and residents.”
Finally passing carbon-pricing legislation — this year’s bill is called Act on Climate 2020 and increases the goal of a 45 percent reduction in state emissions by 2035 to 50 percent and increases the 85 percent reduction target to net-zero by 2050 — and revamping Rhode Island’s transportation sector by better supporting public transit and empowering people to walk and ride bicycles are big changes that would require action by an uninspiring General Assembly that has withered in the face of a societal crisis. Its disappearing act follows a pattern set by years of substantial inaction on the climate crisis.
We don’t need to wait for the General Assembly to take action, however. None of the ideas mentioned by Enser, for example, require Mattiello’s blessing.
As the coronavirus rages and Rhode Islanders not on the front lines do their part by staying home and adhering to physical-distancing guidelines, perhaps we could use this time to create a comprehensive list of ideas to help mitigate the climate crisis.
Please share your ideas by posting a comment below, or you can email me — at [email protected] — your ideas and I will add them to this community-action list.
Frank Carini is the ecoRI News editor.