GWAC Year One: A Look Back and Ahead

(Lexington Minuteman - June 22, 2006)


Two years ago many citizens of Lexington came together to read E.O. Wilson’s The Future of Life. One year ago a group of those who read this book were moved by its message to form a local organization dedicated to environmental issues. This group soon reached the conclusion that climate change caused by excessive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from our fossil fuel based economy was the single largest threat to our environment, natural and human alike. Taking the name the Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition, in the space of one short year, GWAC has become a powerful voice in the Lexington community dedicated to the growing challenge of greenhouse gas induced climate change.


Galvanized by this threat to the only climate the present human species has known, GWAC has embarked on a multi-pronged effort to understand the science behind this threat, to explore the solutions and economic benefits involved in countering this threat, to inform and educate our community, and to initiate local actions to engage our fellow citizens and our community as a whole.


GWAC’s activities during the past year have been initially focused on awareness and consciousness raising. The column series that you have been reading in this year’s Lexington Minutman is but one of these activities. The central focus of these year’s efforts has been the sponsoring of an extremely well-attended speaker series that has brought several notable authorities in the field of climate change and global warming to our community. These speakers have included Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute; Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Fields Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change; Mark Bowen, author of Thin Ice; Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World’s Highest Mountains; and Seth Kaplan of the Conservation Law Foundation whose presentation was entitled, “Global Warming and the Importance of Taking Action at the Local, State and Regional Level”.


Mid-way through the year, a monthly film series was screened at the Cary Memorial Library complete with snacks and spirited discussion sessions following each film. And earlier this spring, GWAC sponsored the first annual Earth Day Every Day Fair in Lexington Center, which featured dozens of environmentally friendly exhibitors and was attended by hundreds of motivated citizens.


The members of GWAC are now engaged in planning an expanded array of activities for the coming year to continue the momentum from this first year’s activities, and to build Lexington’s role as a leadership community in addressing the reality of human induced climate change through an initiative entitled the “Lexington Challenge”. This program will be designed to provide individuals living in Lexington with the tools and resources to take personal actions in response to this challenge, and to join together in working with our local, state and national elected representatives to implement sustained, meaningful measures to solve this human caused problem.


GWAC would like to thank every individual who participated in the many activities sponsored by GWAC during the past year, for without this participation little would have been achieved. The challenge that GWAC is engaged in meeting can’t be undertaken by just a few people. The overwhelming response to our many activities during the past year is a strong indication that many members of our community are equally and deeply concerned about this terribly important issue. As was articulated by one GWAC member, “We want our children to grow up knowing that the community that raised them fought for their future and the health of their planet.”


Further details concerning GWAC’s “Lexington Challenge” and the continuation of its speaker and film series will be announced in the months ahead. You may also visit the GWAC web site to learn more about GWAC’s activities and how to become involved in supporting its efforts.


And before you head out of town on that summer vacation, there is one piece of pending legislation that needs all of our support. Senate Bill #2516, the Global Warming bill, would override Governor Romney’s veto of earlier this year and allow Massachusetts to join with all of the other New England states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).


RGGI is the most important regional policy available right now to address global warming, by cutting emissions from electric power plants, the country’s largest source of emissions. Senate 2516 would cut emissions while protecting consumers, through using emission permit funds to pay for energy efficiency programs and consumer rebates. A majority of the state Senators have already said that they support this bill. It’s time for Senate President Robert Travaglini to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Then House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi should see that it is voted on promptly so that it can be signed into law before the legislature adjourns at the end of July. GWAC urges all concerned Lexingtonians to contact Senator Travaglini and Representative DiMasi’s offices by phone or by letter to urge that this bill be brought up for consideration before the end of the current legislative session. Further information on this bill along with legislators addresses and phone numbers may be found on the Massachusetts Climate Action Network web site at www.massclimateaction.org.


Brought to you by Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition. Contact us at www.lexgwac.org