Below please find:
About Session 3, December 3
A Link to a NYTimes article
3 Powerpoint videos shown 12/3 by our presentors.
Session 3: Impact of our changing climate today on the people on the frontlines: What can farmers, environmentalists, wildlife specialists and others tell us about changes they’ve seen and experienced in our environment? How are these changes that we read about, changes that appear abstract and enormous and far in the future, affect us in our daily lives in the present? What can we do to mitigate those effects?
On Tuesday, December 3rd, we had our third Climate Conversation. It was another “dark and stormy night” outside, but inside the more than 50 hardy participants engaged in a very lively conversation with our three expert panelists. Scott Vlaun, Executive Director of the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy, Deb Perkins, Director, First Light Wildlife Habitats, and Colin Holme, Director of Lakes Environmental Association, provided first-hand insight into the challenges we are facing in the climate crisis, and more importantly, offered specific ideas about how we can collectively make a difference in responding immediately.
While the focus of their expertise was different, each of their presentations followed a similar arc. Each described the dire and real situation we face and the rapidly worsening state of affairs, and yet each acknowledged that we have both the tools and the personal responsibility to act to mitigate the crisis we face. The data they presented were clear and compelling and the actions they are personally taking were equally compelling. (see the slides used by each and the link to the video of their presentations.)
Scott focused his remarks on the challenges faced in local and global food production. He made us aware that while we appear to be producing enough food to feed the world we are doing so in less and less sustainable ways. He also pointed out that we are wasting at least one-third of the food we produce. He introduced us to the concept of regenerative agriculture sharing photos of work being done here in Maine and elsewhere. It is clear from his reporting that our present industrial approach to agriculture with its large, single-crop farming and its heavy use of pesticides and fertilizer, is not sustainable for the environment in the long term. The good news is that approaches such as regenerative agriculture can be practiced economically and productively to feed the planet. (see for example: https://regenerationinternational.org )
Deb is a wildlife biologist. Her mission is to help eco-minded people conserve nature in their own environment, or “right where you are” as she says. She consults directly with people and organizations on using native plants to strengthen their habitat and to attract and support important native animal species like pollinators. Those native plant and animal species are essential to our survival. As the climate changes they have a better chance of evolving appropriately to meet their survival needs, and they also have a chance to help us avoid having to make drastic changes in the first place. She told us in particular that we need to question our own traditions of landscaping dominated by big lawns. We need to plant a more biodiverse property, one that will support a complete and biodiverse ecology. Her message is clear, powerful, compelling and actionable—start with your own space and act now.
Colin has seen up close the impact of the climate crisis on our lakes and rivers. As Director of LEA, he has been at the forefront of fighting the broad array of attacks on the health of our waterways from invasive plant species to the misuse of the land bordering those waterways. His concern for their safety and sustainability is both personal and professional. He worries, as do we, about the kind of world we will leave our children and our grandchildren if we don’t act immediately to protect what we’ve been given. LEA, under Colin’s leadership, has been a guiding light in the region in mobilizing people to respond through citizen science that supports LEA’s network of professional scientists. Boat inspections, watershed quality surveys, and constant water quality management are some of the key activities Colin spoke with us about.
The participants in the evening’s conversation were enthusiastic in sharing their own stories and in asking probing and helpful questions of our panel. In the end, after confronting the daunting prospects facing us as a civilization, as concerned citizens, and as active members of the community, we agreed that action is needed at all levels—personal and community and global levels of action—and that those actions start with us.
Here are links to each of our presenters’ websites. Please visit them and to the degree you’re interested and able support their important work.