November 19, 2017
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Our summer work showed us how important it is to protect Maine from climate change

By Emma Moesswilde and Thomas Freeman, Special to the BDN
George Danby | BDN | BDN
George Danby | BDN | BDN

Students come from around the world to attend Bowdoin College in Brunswick. For us, being students at Bowdoin allows us to stay in our home state of Maine. This summer, we have received funding that allows us to work for community-oriented organizations in Maine. This opportunity to work with nonprofits in the state allows us to remain connected to Maine, while working to support the state and its inhabitants. We care deeply about Maine’s present and are invested in its future.

One of us, Emma Moesswilde, Class of 2018 at Bowdoin and originally from Belfast, is a Psi Upsilon Community Matters in Maine fellow spending the summer working with Maine Conservation Voters in Augusta. This work has helped me to understand Maine’s environment and state environmental policy more fully, and I have been able to familiarize myself with the political steps being taken to protect Maine’s water, land and air and to act on climate change.

Through my fellowship, I was able to go to Washington, D.C., to meet with the Maine congressional delegation about the environmental issues facing our state today. My work this summer has highlighted the connection between Maine people and their environment and the importance of community engagement in protecting Maine’s unique natural resources and landscape. Through community organizing and getting involved with advocating for environmental issues in Maine, I have been able to deepen my connection to my home state and to better understand how to effect positive environmental change in Augusta and across the state.

The other one of us, Thomas Freeman, Class of 2017 and a Presque Isle native, was privileged to do research for Coastal Enterprises Inc. in Brunswick with the support of a Denning Fellowship through the McKeen Center for the Common Good. My research has been focused on immigration in Maine’s rural economies.

Studying Maine for a Maine organization has energized my passion for research. Beyond that, this internship has allowed me to get a better sense of Maine’s rural economies and provided me with a better context to understand the economic issues Aroostook County faces. While growing up in Presque Isle, I always heard adults worrying about the constant stream of young people leaving The County. With this fellowship, I now have a better understanding of this phenomenon and the data behind it. I remain grateful for my childhood in Presque Isle and the opportunity to work with CEI and give back to my home and community.

Through our summer work, we have had the opportunity to become involved in the health of Maine’s environment, economy and inhabitants. Our work has connected us with nonprofits that do essential work for the state. As young people who have chosen to remain in Maine for college, we want to see it continue to prosper — and that means protecting our communities from climate change.

The looming threat of climate change will have detrimental consequences for our state, which we are working so hard to protect. Maine is already seeing the impacts of climate change. Just look to the unpredictable maple sugaring and winter recreation seasons, increasingly hot and dry summers and chaotic weather patterns and events in recent years. These effects of climate change will continue to wreak havoc on the natural resources that we consider a core part of our heritage and economy.

We thank Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins for their work defending Maine’s environment and acting against climate change. We also praise the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan will support the development of clean energy sources and infrastructure that will create jobs in Maine and make our state a leader in the transition to a renewable energy economy and way of life.

Released almost exactly a year ago, the Clean Power Plan presents concrete solutions for mitigating the dangerous effects of climate change and offers a sustainable future for the next generation of Mainers. As two members of that generation, we believe the Clean Power Plan will be crucial in moving our country and our state forward to a safe, sustainable future.

Emma Moesswilde is an environmental studies and history major at Bowdoin College. Thomas Freeman is a government and legal studies major at Bowdoin College. They both grew up in Maine.

 


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