The newspaper’s in-depth series about the warming and acidification in the Gulf of Maine, “May Day: Gulf of Maine in Distress,” has been both informative and troubling.

However, I take issue with a point made more than once in the articles that essentially absolves Maine of any responsibility for global warming. To paraphrase, the last article says that Maine has such a minimal impact on the global greenhouse gas emission problem that local action is irrelevant.

The fact is that we cannot address climate change without individual initiative. Human nature allows us to deflect responsibility to government, “big coal” and “big oil,” India and China, and those that deny human responsibility for climate change. The newspaper also reports that seven of 10 Americans, including a slight majority of Republicans, believe in man-made climate change.

But what personal daily decisions are the seven of 10 making to address their own personal responsibility? Are their heating systems, appliances, lights and vehicles energy efficient? Did they turn off the light when they put down the newspaper? Do they travel by bus or train when possible instead of by car and airplane?

Let’s not wait for our divided government to act. Individual actions are critically important, and individual initiative leads to collective action. The government’s role is to offer incentives that will lead to individual and corporate decisions that lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions. But we can’t wait.

The consequences of inaction are dire. The prices of oil and gas are so low that decisions to use heat pumps, install solar panels, purchase electric or hybrid vehicles may have a longer pay back than they have in the past, but this is all about personal responsibility.

Thanks again to the newspaper for the Gulf of Maine series.

Tony Marple


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