January 27, 2020
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Bridging the climate change divide

Community Author: Lesley Fernow
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Contact: lmfernow@rcn.com

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Maine people pride ourselves on being resilient, hardy, innovative and hardworking. We are also smart and straightforward in our conversations. These qualities are becoming even more important as we tackle the many economic and environmental difficulties we face in the coming years. A group of local people interested in having important conversations related to community resilience and climate are announcing a series held on the last Friday of each month called “Final Fridays-Community Conversations on Climate,” beginning on Friday, Dec. 27 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the first floor community room at The Commons at Central Hall. These meetings will include a short film or video followed by discussion, and will be an opportunity to share a simple potluck meal while exploring various topics related to how climate change is affecting us, and how we can build community resilience?

We recognize that Mainers are very divided, as is most of America right now. However, if we are to use our mutual strengths to solve problems, we must begin to talk together about even the most difficult and divisive topics. One of the topics that causes much division is the topic of the changing climate. The other day, when it was snowing during an unseasonably cold early November day, I heard someone at a local restaurant rather triumphantly proclaim “so much for global warming!” as if making a winning comment against climate change. Similarly, we frequently hear people argue against worries about increased drought in the Midwest by pointing to devastating spring flooding. While this argument might make the person feel validated in their claim that things aren’t really changing, it also potentially separates them from the conversation about how to be part of working on community empowerment, resilience and innovation. Likewise, people who see climate change as a threat to our future use words like “crisis” and “catastrophe,” turning off people who might have less certainty about the effects of warming on our region and the planet.
What does it mean to believe in or to deny climate change? Is it important? What can we agree on about our environment, our future hopes and our fears? What really matters? We believe that we urgently need to talk with each other in a civil, earnest and open-minded way, and are devoting our first community conversation on climate to this topic, “Bridging the Climate Change Divide.”

This time in history requires much of us. Slowly, I believe, many Mainers are seeing change in their everyday lives. The light is dawning that these changes reflect a changing climate. Farmers are beginning to see and prepare for the effects of increased droughts, ice fishermen are seeing shorter seasons, shrimp fishermen are seeing their catch migrate north to Canada, and foresters and lumbermen are watching with concern as forest pests move northward. On the national news we are witnessing events around our country and the world such as devastating fires or flooding, more violent and destructive hurricanes, and sea level rise affecting coastal cities. Many of us are thinking how lucky we are in Piscataquis County to be avoiding the billions of dollars in rebuilding that those affected communities are spending.
There are proven solutions and innovative ideas for mitigating and adapting to the negative effects of climate change. Maine and our local communities can support and invest in many of them to help create good jobs, keep young people in Maine and create a path to a resilient long-term economy.

Even if you are not sure climate change is really a problem, please join us for the Final Friday Conversation on Climate to discuss “Bridging the Climate Change Divide.” Bring a food item to share as well as your creative ideas. For more information email lauriesproul65@gmail.com or pastorsteve@myfairpoint.net.