My Turn: Now is the time to focus on clean energy in New Hampshire

For the Monitor
Published: 7/31/2017 12:15:03 AM

As a young New Hampshire resident, I would like to commend the actions of Portsmouth Democrat Martha Fuller Clark and W.S. Badger business owner Rebecca Hamilton in Keene for their tireless sponsorship and support of Senate Bill 123 (Monitor Forum, July 27).

SB 123 aimed to establish a commission to study a carbon reduction investment program for New Hampshire. While the bill was ultimately unsuccessful in the state Legislature, Clark and Hamilton’s work represents an important step toward implementing a clean energy future in the Granite State.

New Hampshire is prime location for shifting to renewables. We have ample resources of sun and wind that can be harnessed for the benefit of our population.

Why does clean energy matter? We don’t need to look far beyond our own backyards to see the impacts of climate change on our families and neighbors.

For one, the New Hampshire tourism industry is highly weather-dependent. Tourists flock to our mountains for their bursts of autumn oranges and reds, to our ski hills for white slopes, and to our beaches for a refreshing dose of sun and sea. Our maple syrup is not to be rivaled, and our farm-fresh produce is, for lack of a better term, absolutely delicious.

Intensified and unpredictable weather patterns jeopardize the livelihood of those who work in tourism, agriculture and other industries that are weather-dependent.

Jobs dependent on natural resources are jobs we cannot sacrifice for the benefit of fossil fuel companies, companies that aren’t even based in-state. Dirty energy and fossil fuels have no place in a vibrant New Hampshire economy.

By investing in renewable energy, New Hampshire will attract more green businesses, which makes good economic sense.

In her book “Green Giants”, Freya Williams argues that the dichotomy between making profit and doing good for the planet is a false one; rather, placing sustainability at the heart of a business model yields great profits. New Hampshire-owned businesses have much to gain from the transition to clean energy.

And as we are residents of not just this great Granite State, but also this great blue-green planet, it is imperative that we widen the lens of inquiry to include other states and other nations.

Climate change is an environmental justice issue in that it disproportionately harms women, the poor, indigenous communities and people of color. These communities are, in one of the great ironies of climate change, also among those who have contributed the least to the problem.

As I have written elsewhere, climate change is a result of business-as-usual policies that fail to grasp the creative potential of transitioning to a more just energy future. Inaction on climate change amounts to a slow poisoning of generations to come.

While the legislators who voted against SB 123 might not be around to deal with the impacts of climate change first-hand, I will, and my sisters, ages 14 and 7, will also have to face these challenges. Shame on them for being so shortsighted.

What we need in 2017 are regenerative solutions that value the lives of New Hampshire residents and all residents of this planet as valuable. Our actions in-state have impacts on real, living people in as far-flung locations as Tuvalu, a coral atoll nation in the Pacific that sits only 4 meters above sea level and copes with rising seas, and Igloolik, an Arctic community in Nunavut experiencing unseasonably warm winters and unpredictable weather patterns that threaten indigenous ways of life.

The fossil fuel industry endangers millions of people – your children and grandchildren inclusive. At 24 years old, I am part of a generation that wonders if it is morally responsible to bring a child into this state of climate chaos.

This is to say nothing of the nonhuman impacts of climate change, too. Species loss due to anthropogenic activities is occurring at a rate 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than the background or natural extinction rate. This amounts to anywhere between 200 and 2,000 species lost per year. One in six species worldwide face extinction due to climate change.

Imagine a world without golden eagles or Eastern box turtles or Karner blue butterflies. Pretty grim, right? All of these species are endangered. We live in a time of such dramatic ecological loss that there is a new word for this phenomenon: solastalgia.

We don’t have time to wallow in this dystopian future. Let the shocking reality of our present situation be a call toward positive, optimistic action. It’s not too late.

We can, as New Hampshire citizens, take part in executing the well-underway clean energy revolution.

We can support measures like SB 123 that can put smart carbon reduction investment programs at the center of state policy.

We can elect officials who value the health of the planet as the same as the health of our communities.

We can pressure those in elected office to take action on climate change, by calling, writing, and visiting their offices in person.

Combating climate change calls for everyday heroism from each one of us.

I urge you educate yourself on the depth of these issues, start a conversation about climate change with your family and neighbors, and investigate ways that you can minimize your impact on this planet.

We (collectively) have got the power to incite changes in our state’s energy policy. It’s time to use it.

(Devi Lockwood is an environmental journalist based in Durham.)

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