Connecting the Dots with columnist John Bos: Think globally, act locally – The Recorder

JOHN BOS
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Like charity, environmental action begins at home.
Today, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Greenfield Energy Park, you can learn about what the long-anticipated Next Generation Roadmap bill, signed into law to by Gov. Baker on March 26, will mean to you as a commonwealth resident. This new law, the first in the nation, calls for a major change to Massachusetts’s approach to addressing our climate crisis. In the 13 years since the Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, climate catastrophes are arriving with a frequency and ferocity that have shocked climate scientists. The fact that climate models failed to predict the intensity of this summer’s heatwaves and flooding suggests that severe impacts will come sooner than previously thought.
I find our deteriorating environment by far the most pervasive, existential threat to humankind. News about climate change used to run occasionally in the Recorder. However, in response to increasingly massive climate disruptions throughout America, climate “news” is making a near-daily appearance in the Recorder, sometimes three or four articles in a single edition.
To respond to this grim reality at the state level, the Next Generation Law has set a strict goal of a 50% reduction in the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, 75% by 2040 and net zero by 2050. 
A caveat. As someone who spends a lot of time researching and writing about the multiple challenges facing America today, I know the world has, by and large, adopted “net zero by 2050” as its de facto climate goal. But I see two fatal flaws in the language of this goal. The first is “net zero.” The second is “by 2050.”
“Net zero” is a phrase that represents our fervent belief that technology will hypothetically suck up all that nasty CO2 while allowing we the people and the fossil fuel industry to continue business as usual. Nothing I can find tells me that this nascent technology can come close to capturing the amount of CO2 emissions from the continuing use of fossil fuels for transportation, heating and electric power production.
The second flaw to my way of thinking is the phrase “by 2050.” This deadline feels waaaay in the future, therefore inviting delays in climate action. I will guess that most people reading this article will not be alive in 2050. So how does a date 31 years from now deliver an immediate call-to-action? What it is I think, is a “convenient” future date that allows the fossil fuel industries to keep on extracting CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases while gaslighting the general public with its greenwashing campaigns. 
These two flaws can create a toxic mix of inaction and increasingly high levels of irreversible climate and ecological degradation.
But talk is cheap. Like op ed essays. Massachusetts has again taken action with its first-in-the nation Next Generation Roadmap act.
There are bound to be questions about how the new law will affect all of us. How, for example, will your personal or business life be affected by the law’s new definition of “direct emissions? “Emissions from sources that are owned or operated, in whole or in part, by any person, entity or facility including, but not limited to, emissions from transportation or heating fuels or from any building, structure, distribution system or residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, waste management, agriculture or manufacturing process.”
This is one of the many topics that our state Rep. Paul Mark, vice chair of the state Energy Committee, and state Rep. Joan Meschino from Hull, a principal author of the bill, will describe and discuss this afternoon starting at 1:30 at Greenfield Energy Park.
We are living in the most challenging times of our collective lives. Though most states and countries are currently preoccupied with COVID-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to end to rapidly reduce emissions. The anti-vaxers are right; there are no vaccines to cure the climate crisis pandemic. That said, not taking action is like not taking the COVID-19/Delta vaccine; people die.
Our country must respond to the climate crisis with the same urgency it was forced to deal with in facing the pandemic … and Pearl Harbor. We in Massachusetts can set an example at the state level that can trickle up to the federal level. And serve as a model for other states to follow.
That’s why the “Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy” is so critical. 
This important event is sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Franklin County and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Social Justice.
“Connecting the Dots” appears every other Saturday in the Recorder. John Bos is also a contributing writer for Green Energy Times and the editor of a new children’s book “After the Race.” Comments and questions are invited at john01370@gmail.com. 
Editor’s Note: This is the last in four profiles of the candidates running for election to the Montague Selectboard. The election will be held…
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