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Senator Angus King Addresses Audience at “A Climate to Thrive” Meeting at MDI High School

Aug 01, 2016

Could Mount Desert Island become energy independent by 2030? Several hundred citizens took time out from yesterday’s beautiful day to hear Senator Angus King and others speak on that possibility.

Following a fun introduction by The Barn Arts Collective, Gary Friedmann, Chairman of the group “A Climate to Thrive”, introduced speakers Julia Dundorf, Executive Director of New England Grassroots Environment Fund, Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director of Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Senator King.

Gary Friedmann

Gary Friedmann

Friedmann told the audience “A Climate to Thrive” started with just twelve people around a kitchen table a year ago in July. By August, that number had doubled, and today more than 200 people are involved.

Dundorf emphasized the interconnectedness of the world when it comes to climate change, stressing the environmental movement must evolve from a “white, persons of privilege” movement to include persons of color, indigenous people, and people who lack wealth. She noted the change must be a “just” transition, citing the example of the movement away from coal which affects coal miners and their families in West Virginia. She said we must consider how we will go about providing good paying jobs when that industry goes away.

When Pohlmann took the stage, she noted Maine is the only state in New England that does not have a comprehensive solar policy. She said she has stopped trying to convince people that the crisis is real, as the scientific evidence for climate change is so strong.

Senator Angus King

Senator Angus King

Senator King told the group the last 15 months have been the hottest on record for each of those months, noting last week’s temperatures of 124 degrees in Kuwait and 111 degrees in Phoenix. He also pointed out the devastating effects of ocean warming to the lobster industry in areas of New England. According to experts, notes King, the melting of the Greenland ice shelf could cause a change in ocean currents, making northern Europe uninhabitable. And he cited other experts who warn climate change is not a slow process as many perceive, but is happening abruptly. If sea levels rise, 100 million people could be displaced in Bangladesh alone, along with 1/10th of the earth’s population. The crisis will also lead to drought, famine, and heat, driving people to move – which then becomes a security issue. King cited Biblical examples of stewardship for the earth, including a passage calling for a sabbatical of the land every seven years.

Audience at “A Climate to Thrive”

Audience at “A Climate to Thrive”

But the speakers did not leave the audience without hope. Senator King told the gathering, “We must confront, think about, and work on solutions”. He concluded by saying the focus must be on four “P”’s – Plan (have a vision), Partnership (working together with the world), Perseverance, and Passion for change and praised those in attendance for being well on their way in working toward the goal of energy independence and solving the climate crisis.

Senator King was scheduled to be on hand for this morning’s ground breaking for the Bar Harbor Community Solar Farm. One hundred eighty-eight photovoltaic panels were to be installed at the Public Works site in Hulls Cove. The 59 Kw system will be the first municipally-sponsored CSF in Maine and the first in Emera’s service territory. The system will reportedly power four homes, one apartment house, and one Main Street business.

Sonnie Shepherd

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