We have lived in Cumberland for over 30 years and this year, for the first time, moss is growing on our roof. We’ve had another wet summer but I guess we shouldn’t complain as we’ve been free of the wildfires, floods, drought and excessive temperatures that other parts of our country have been dealing with. What’s going on? Is this the beginning of the change in climate that we’ve been hearing about or will things settle down again? Can we just ignore it, or do we need to start making some changes now?
Evidence has built up that the climate really is changing and that we need to find different ways of generating energy. We need to achieve “net zero carbon emissions” – which means we need to stop burning things to make our energy. We can get electricity from solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and even tidal sources. Combined with large batteries and an upgraded grid, we will be able to provide all the power we need without any emissions. This will give our planet a chance to breathe again.
Another positive is that these changes will create new jobs, both in the short term as these clean power sources are constructed, and longer term as they are maintained. Our governor, Cumberland’s Dan McKee, signed landmark climate legislation this April with the Act On Climate initiative which commits Rhode Island to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The first step, according to this statute, is to engage Rhode Islanders in developing a plan (due December 2022) to get to that goal. If done right, this plan could guide Rhode Island through a clean energy transition that grows our economy and ensures that we have affordable clean energy for decades to come.
A comprehensive and inclusive process is essential to making sure we have a good plan, and it is beginning in November (http://climatechange.ri.gov/aoc/). We can’t miss opportunity to lead on climate action. Years from now, are we going to be able to look into our grandchildren’s faces and know that we did the right thing for them, or are we going to have to admit that we’re passing on a world that we wouldn’t choose to live in?