BRUNSWICK — The scientific evidence and signs in daily life corroborate that we are creating an escalating global heating crisis. While we fiddle, individually and as the human race, Earth continues to heat up. Wherever we are on this path, we’re closer to Armageddon than we were five years ago. Every one of us should imagine encountering any young person alive today, in a mere 25 years, and consider how we would answer the following questions: “What were you thinking? Why didn’t you act?”

Gov. Mills wisely has said that the time for action is now. We just cannot afford to let global heating get further out of control without acting immediately. But why should Maine people act to purge the emission of greenhouse gases (basically stop burning fossil fuels) from our lives, when we cannot control the global outcome?

First, it is a matter of conscience. All humans, including Mainers, have a moral duty to come to grips with this issue. Consider the 415 parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere, which is increasing exponentially, resulting in the only temperature spike created by humans in the history of the planet. We have created this crisis, and we have a responsibility to solve it. This is the essence of being human, and acting responsibly. “We” means “us,” along with every other human being and political jurisdiction.

Consider the simple act of breathing. The biosphere is a very thin layer of gases. Roughly 30 percent of our oxygen comes from trees; virtually all the rest comes from phytoplankton, the miniature “trees” of the ocean. How healthy are these natural resources? Globally, our forests are being decimated by humans, as millions of acres are clear-cut annually for other purposes. The remaining forest stock is getting weaker from climate-related stresses. Simultaneously, phytoplankton are in increasingly dire condition because of human assaults on the web of life in the ocean.

This is a situation nobody, human and non-human, can escape. Over 1 million species of flora and fauna are threatened with extinction. As large mammals, humans will be added to this list. It is essential to see climate disruption as a problem with dire consequences for humans and millions of other living things. Nobody is immune.

It is time to use our human intelligence wisely. Think of this as mobilizing for the common good. During World War II, people did not agonize over whether he or she could have an impact individually – they just pitched in to achieve a mutual goal. Rosie went off to be a riveter. Victory gardens sprung up everywhere, to help people stretch their ration coupons. People stomped on tin cans, to be remade into essential metal products. Beef and milk production was curtailed. Everyone just did their part, because they knew it would make a difference when their individual efforts were combined.

Or consider the New England Patriots. With great coaching, the players prepare for every situation, with a single-minded focus on reality and what will work. Then, in the game, each one does his part, relying on every other player to do his part. The result is powerful, and probably beyond many players’ expectations.

We need a similar approach to climate disruption, in Maine and elsewhere. We are fortunate to live here, for many reasons. Life is manageable here. We can more readily innovate and try new approaches to mitigate climate disruption than others. We can and should be leaders. It is part of our heritage: Dirigo.

Finally, there is the matter of confidence in our capacity to handle this challenge. We may have to give some things up, but the major objective is positive – health and a meaningful life. If we are sick and in danger, think about the positive aspects of getting well and being safe. This approach is powerful, even joyous, because it will give us something positive and compassionate on which to focus. This in turn can be expected to unleash a burst of human ingenuity that will help solve problems and improve the quality of everyone’s life.

Trust in your teammates on planet Earth. Let’s all rise to the occasion, including legislators considering climate and renewable-energy legislation. Take positive action now, wherever you are.


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