To the Editor:
The United Nations Climate Change Conference is arguably the most important event involving our environmental future. Many people choose not to believe that global warming is real, but the reality is that the Earth's temperature has already risen a couple of degrees in the last 30 years — a significant amount when an increase of only 8 degrees will lower the planet's capacity to support us. The conference aims to produce legal policies that lower the rate of global warming.
In Paris, the site of this year's conference, on December 1st, "the White House announced [that] 73 U.S. companies are pledging support for action on climate change. The goals of the companies are to reduce emissions by up to 50 percent. Other goals include cutting their water usage by 80 percent, and buying 100 percent renewable energy." This is a strong step toward slowing global warming, and gaining time to find possible adaptations.
So what does this mean for us in Vermont? According to North Country Public Radio, "Vermont has committed itself to getting 90 percent of the energy used in the state, including transportation, from renewable resources by 2050. Since Shumlin took office in 2011, the amount of electricity from solar projects has increased by 10 times and wind energy 20 times. And he says those efforts are good for the economy, supporting thousands of jobs." There are even businesses in our state that are part of a group known as Energy Independent Vermont. Those involved are aiming to address climate change by 'putting a price on pollution.' This involves a plan to put a tax on oil and gas companies, simultaneously discouraging the pollutants and raising the average Vermonter's income by lowering other taxes.
Simple things like making sure to turn off electricity that is not being used, or bigger changes like investing in solar panels will all contribute to saving our world. Some have said that the current generation, the first to feel the effect of climate change, is the last with hope to stop the process. This is a frightening thought, but the cold hard truth is that we need to take action. Even the small actions will help extend our chances of survival in the future.
Erin Cournoyer is a student at Castleton University and a 2014 graduate of Burr and Burton Academy.