What can we accomplish in 33 years? Most of us, quite a lot. A whole working career and a productive retirement; a family with a start on the third generation; service to our communities. Lots.

Why ask about 33 years? Because it was 33 years ago, in 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen went on record to warn Congress about climate change, its main causes and its likely effects.

Since that time, scientists’ warnings about a warming planet and changing “weird” weather have come true, even faster than they predicted. The scientists have delivered.

What has Congress done? Not much. They have nibbled around the edges of the problem but they have failed to take action to significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses we release into the atmosphere.

Solutions to the problem are available but nature’s clock is ticking and the time remaining to head off catastrophic consequences is limited and growing shorter.

Right now Maine volunteers are working in 50 towns under the title CarbonCashback4Me to get articles on town meeting warrants or resolutions passed by city councils requiring Congress to pass meaningful legislation to combat climate change and describing that legislation as containing carbon fee and dividend provisions.


After 33 years our elected leaders have failed to act in any meaningful way. Hopefully 50 towns in Maine acting together will get the attention of Maine’s delegation.

Credit where it’s due: Sen. Collins tried to pass the CLEAR Act in 2010. She was ahead of her time and did not get the support she deserved. Chellie Pingree was one of the early sponsors of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in the last congressional session. We hope we can encourage them and Sen. King and Rep. Golden to take meaningful action in this session.

For more information, go to carboncashback4me.org.

Bill Lee

(Editor’s note: The writer is not the Waterville city attorney of the same name.)

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