Lauren R. Stevens: 'Scary' talk needed on climate change

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WILLIAMSTOWN — I agree with a recent Eagle letter writer ("Scare tactics on climate change," May 20) that scaring people about a warming globe is not the way to achieve good results. The best way is to encourage positive actions to mitigate and prepare for the effects.

But I don't agree completely. The writer continues by asserting that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "instilled a great deal of fear in children when she said that we only have 12 more years to live on planet Earth because of global warming." What AOC actually said was that we need to act soon to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. The misrepresentation might be considered a scare tactic/

So, cheers, AOC did not imply that a current "14-year-old, for example, [would] only live to the age of 26." Let's be grateful.

The letter goes on: "Well, I do hope that all the students who protest against climate change will walk the walk by riding a bike to school instead of taking the school bus." Interestingly, I counted over two-dozen bikes parked in the racks at the Williamstown Elementary School the other day and I know many students in North Adams and Clarksburg also ride to school.

Doesn't necessarily make them climate change protesters, of course, but riding or walking whenever possible is one form of positive action. Just like the writer, who mentions riding a mountain bike year around in lieu of owning a car. That is, in fact, a positive step.

The writer recommends books skeptical of anthropomorphic climate change and the future of green energy. We live in a strange world, where scientific matters may seem to be settled by political affiliation. It's a bit like the days when scientific outcomes, such as whether the sun was at the center of the solar system, depended on religion.

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The science behind climate change can withstand a few outliers. Ultimately it will withstand the political attacks, as well, distressing as they are. AOC's Green New Deal is an attempt to find positive actions.

Students support the GND because they want to combat the degradation of life, other creatures' and ours, on this planet. Those of us who are older may not have their imperative because we will not be around as aspects of our existence that we treasure fade.

Yet we can now see what is happening around the globe and in our country where the people with least suffer the most. Even if our lives haven't been wildly disrupted, we should be able to empathize with the folks who have lost their homes through the recent floods, tornadoes and wildfires likely intensified by a warming world.

And maybe we are being affected more than we realize. We're scared, legitimately, of disease-bearing ticks that have moved north into our area. Even though we're benefiting from longer growing seasons, our ski season and sugar maple trees are suffering. The desire for air conditioning grows — in New England of all places.

So, no talk here about doomsday. If these comments have been scary I apologize. They are meant to encourage positive actions, like bicycle riding — and maybe more protesting by children and adults.

At least, that's how it looks from the White Oaks.

A writer and environmentalist, Lauren R. Stevens is a regular Eagle contributor.


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