There’s been a lot of statewide conversation lately around the question of how we site energy projects in the state – particularly renewables like solar and wind, which have the capacity to make our energy generation considerably more visible than when we’re pulling our power from remote locales like VT Yankee and Hydro Quebec, or off a regional grid – where frequently the power has been created by natural gas or coal fired plants.
While it’s not hard to appreciate everyone’s concern for the politics, economics, and logistics of siting what often gets referred to as “industrial” energy-generation projects in their communities, it’s also important to keep in mind the fact that climate change is accelerating rapidly, and addressing it requires that we get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible.
We demand abundant energy – exactly when we want it – to power every aspect of our lives. While one might be uncomfortable with the look of a field full of solar panels, or a wind turbine on a ridge top, they hardly rival the massive impacts of true industrial energy generation: entire mountains and forests destroyed due to mountaintop removal coal mining and tar sands extraction, earthquakes and poisoned groundwater due to fracking, massive offshore oil spills collapsing entire marine ecosystems, pristine rivers polluted by leaking pipelines, communities endangered by exploding oil trains…the list goes on.
The big difference is that we don’t live in Alberta or the Gulf Coast or Appalachia or Nigeria or Lac-Mégantic or San Martín Texmelucan de Labastida or Arkansas or Oklahoma or Montana or Michigan – so we don’t have to experience the consequences of all that firsthand. We just get to benefit from the results.
Of course, it’s important that energy generated in Vermont stay in Vermont and benefit Vermonters. And yes, the politics and policies can be complex, and we do need to engage them consciously and deliberately. But ultimately, if we’re going to power our lives, then the least we can do is take responsibility for it.
For many, the question then arises of what, exactly, they CAN do to take responsibility for both their energy use and generation. It gets complicated when you start pulling at a thread which turns out to be woven through pretty much every aspect of our lives.
Fortunately, we have numerous programs available throughout the state, the most entertaining, meaningful, and community-building of these is the award-winning climate game Vermontivate!
Vermontivate! – which runs this year from March 23 through May 2 – was designed specifically to provide a curated path of action and carbon reduction on topics ranging from energy, food, and transportation to waste-reduction, water quality, and Gross National Happiness.
Vermontivate! is accessible to a wide range of ages and experience levels – from lightbulb-changing newbies to veterans of off-the-grid living. We’ve had players ranging in age from 3-73 and almost everyone has found the challenges engaging, educational, and – most importantly – helpful when it comes to transforming their behavior and helping ignite the work of building a post-carbon society.
You can get more information at vermontivate.com.
Kathryn Blume is a public speaker and Executive Director of Vermontivate! – an award-winning community sustainability game designed to bring fun, hope, and possibility to the hard work of addressing the global climate crisis. She also serves as board chair of the climate action group 350VT.