Maybe the climate emergency has gotten so bad we’ll start to do something about it

  • Michael Minnaugh of Concord plays with his son, Caeleb, 6, at the Rollins Park pool in June 28. It wasn’t a perfect summer, for sure. But with changing climate, we may soon become nostalgic about years like this. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

  • Rocks are exposed with the water level down on the Merrimack River from the continuing drought in the state on Thursday, September 17, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER

  • The ice on the trees surrounds skiers as they ride the chairlift at Pats Peak ski area in Henniker in February. Businesses, like ski areas, are already very sensitive to how changing climate is affecting bottom lines. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

  • Planes are parked after flying in on frozen Lake Winnipesaukee on Feb. 28, 2015, in Alton. Dozens of pilots flew in to the the only ice runway in the Lower 48 states approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. AP file

Published: 9/6/2021 8:00:03 PM

Maybe I shouldn’t tempt the gods by saying this out loud but New Hampshire had a darn good summer, weather-wise.

Yeah, it was miserably hot and humid sometimes, not New England-y at all, and it was alarmingly dry in the first half and too wet in the second half. North of the Notches is still facing a drought even as some Massachusetts border towns have damaging floods, but compared to just about everywhere else in America it was a walk in the park.

We won’t have it so good next time, though. And there’s absolutely, positively going to be a next time.

That’s the thing about the climate emergency (a term that seemed over-the-top a couple of years ago and now seems almost mild). It’s not something that happens and then is finished.

It’s going to keep building and building as long as we keep adding to the fuel that powers it. Each year is likely to be hotter and stormier than the one before, over and over again. Soon we’ll look back on the summer of 2021 with painful nostalgia for the good ol’ climate days.

Enough lamentation – what to do? Politics, I’m afraid.

I mean that in the broadest sense. It starts, of course, with voting for people who take the climate emergency seriously, from the president and Congress folks to state lawmakers, school boards, even cemetery trustees (what is your town doing about fume-spewing landscaping equipment?) And it requires badgering them to support important legislation, regulations and actions.

But it also requires pressuring businesses, who are at least as important a force in modern America as government.

That last is one of the bright spots in this dismal landscape, judging from a recent webinar hosted by people knowledgeable enough about the topic to despair if they so choose. They argued that businesses are finally realizing that the climate emergency is hurting their bottom line and beginning to take real action, not only concerning their own activities but by using their pocketbooks to prod politicians.

“There’s a mobilization of the business community, not just in New Hampshire – a surge of companies that are ready to jump in the ring,” said Tyler Ray of the Granite Outdoor Alliance during last week’s online presentation held by the League of Conservation Voters as part of a multi-state lobbying effort called the Climate Action Campaign.

The Granite Outdoor Alliance was formed to boost the lobbying presence of businesses, non-profits and places that depend on hiking, canoeing, camping and other outdoorsy stuff. For obvious reasons, the climate emergency alarms them.

“This is a top 5 industry, nationwide and in New Hampshire, and this grassroots movement has taken hold,” said Ray.

Jessyca Keeler, executive director of industry group Ski NH, agreed.

“When I started, very few people in this industry … were even talking about climate change. … The last few years have seen a real change in how the industry is addressing the threat to the industry,” she said.

Let’s hope so, anyway, because we have created a systemic, communal problem that will take systemic, communal action to solve. Individual changes are all well and good but alone we can’t undo a century of industrial revolution; that takes top-down leadership and action.

The webinar was created to urge support for the Biden administration’s Build Back Better budget (federal legislation sure gets some silly names), which contains a huge amount of focus on the climate as part of infrastructure. I can’t say I’m knowledgeable about the details – years of stuffing my fingers in my ears whenever people mention politics takes time to get over – but it’s far and away the biggest climate-related action the country has seen in many years.

I imagine our four federal legislators will support it since they’re Democrats and climate action, inexplicably, has become a partisan issue usually opposed by the party that created the Environmental Protection Agency. But if we can get New Hampshire businesses to add their voice and monetary muscle to the push, all the better.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy whatever good weather we have. Because these are the good ol’ climate days!

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)



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