Dear Mainers,

Has anybody had brain space in the last year for anything but the coronavirus, protests about racial injustice, and the presidential election and its aftermath?

But while we’ve had enough news, and profound challenges, over just the past year for any ordinary 10-year period, the daunting global environmental difficulties we face have not disappeared just because we haven’t been looking. Take climate change: Portland had its warmest year on record (and its hottest summer, and its hottest July) in 2020. Would that this were a mere local problem. But Scientific American reported earlier this month that “2020 was one of the hottest years in recorded history.”

It’s heartening that the United States re-joined the Paris climate accord (just hours after President Biden was inaugurated this month). And more than that, that the new president believes in climate change and says fighting it will be a priority of his administration. It’s more than a little cheering that many young people care passionately about the health of their planet. Still, it’s worrisome that as a nation we have struggled mightily to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. By comparison, its terrible toll may one day seem manageable. There is no vaccine, no one-shot silver-bullet fix (or even biodegradable-bullet fix) to stop climate change.

The challenges climate change present will take all of us changing our own individual behaviors (less driving and in smaller, more energy-efficient cars; less consumption generally; less meat-eating specifically; more insulation, more energy efficiency; more native plants in more local gardens; and so much more). It will also require that businesses change their behaviors and motivations (less packaging, less plastic, less paper, less waste, greener factories and offices, and so much more), and that governments, at all levels, prioritize planning for climate change (capping carbon emissions, investing in public transportation and renewable resources, designing for walking and biking, zoning for sea level rise and wildfires, and so much more).

Our seventh annual Source Awards seek to highlight Mainers’ most promising, innovative and successful efforts – large and small – to combat climate change, and to otherwise protect, sustain and conserve our beautiful state, its resources and waters. Nominations open online today; anyone may nominate a Maine individual, group, business or nonprofit doing tremendous work in sustainability, be it climate change or another arena. (Find past winners here: pressherald.com/tag/source-awards.)

We are looking for people, businesses, organizations and nonprofits of all ages, genders, colors, backgrounds and sorts, among them students and teachers, farmers, scientists, volunteers, activists, landscapers, architects, builders and urban planners – anyone who is having a positive impact on the environment in Maine.

They deserve recognition for the work they carried on in this very tough year. The rest of us need hope for a cleaner, greener, cooler and brighter future.

Nominations are due by March 1 (but we’d love to hear from you sooner).

Peggy Grodinsky, Source Editor


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