Letter to Editor: Climate in crisis

On April 27 two important events will occur in Bar Harbor. First, hundreds of devoted Friends of Acadia volunteers will show up for the annual Spring Cleanup of Acadia’s carriage roads. Immediately following, at 1 p.m., will be the Climate March sponsored by Indivisible MDI. These events bring attention to our lived environment here in Acadia National Park and its environs and also to the greater global environment, which is facing an existential crisis.

Here in Maine, we are already experiencing the effects of climate change in the form of droughts, floods, warmer water temperatures that threaten species like cod and lobster, increases in mosquito and tick-borne diseases and degradation of our forests due to invasive insects and disease. The conditions for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, fishing and birding are declining with each season. And yet we are comparatively lucky since — so far— we have not seen the severe hurricanes, floods and forest fires experienced in other parts of the country. The climate movement is responding to these devastating impacts of climate change with increased momentum, in particular by its youth, who see clearly that their future is being stolen from them in front of their very eyes.

The MDI Climate March follows on the heels of the International Youth Climate Strike on March 15 of this year. According to Foreign Policy magazine, “An estimated 1.6 million to 2 million people — mostly teenagers and preteens — gathered in thousands of cities and towns in more than 125 countries to demand their political leaders meet existing climate goals.”

At least 125 of those youth were here at the Bar Harbor YWCA. Publicity around this event captured headlines around the world, although, let it be said, the Islander did not quite grasp its significance. These demonstrations are proliferating and giving voice to the dire warnings that climate scientists have been vocalizing for decades.

Can demonstrations change the course of history? Think of the Suffragist movement, or the movements for Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War. The people who were engaged enough — who cared enough and marched to demonstrate their commitments — grabbed the country’s attention and ultimately their elected representatives listened and changed course. In this case of impending climate catastrophe we need to capture the world’s attention; if we do not work toward this goal, we silently signal our willingness to consign our children and grandchildren, and poor and vulnerable people the world over, to a future far different from the planet we now know. Young people are taking on the challenge of bringing climate change to the conscience of world leaders because it is today’s youth who will bear its burdens. We have an intergenerational responsibility to act on their behalf. We must march for our communities, our climate, and for the well-being of our families and future generations.

Please take an hour out of your day on Saturday, April 27 to come to the Village Green in Bar Harbor, and bring your children and your friends. Show our community, our country and the world that climate change matters and that you care.

Dixie Hathaway

Bar Harbor

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