Carpe Greenum: An open letter to Vermont’s climate marchers

Sept-3-Carpe-Greenum-C-copyby Rebecca Foster

Dear fellow marchers,
Or shall I call you Earth Defenders, Courageous Climate Activists, Mama Lions at the Mouth of the Den Protecting Your Young? By whatever name, according to 350 Vermont somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 of us are leaving our Green Mountain haven this weekend to join some 200,000 marchers from around the world in New York City. The purpose of the People’s Climate March is to demonstrate the sheer size of the climate movement and the intensity of our commitment: We understand the crisis facing our planet and all life on it, and we reject that it is inevitable. By our collective, massive presence we will exert pressure on political leaders meeting at the United Nations next week to discuss climate policy, and make clear that we hold them accountable.
Vermont’s presence at the largest climate rally in history will be hugely disproportionate to our population. While we are only .2 percent of the United States population, we will represent 1 percent of the marchers. If Vermont were an average state of unremarkable people with a lackluster commitment to fighting for the health of our social and natural communities, three or four hundred of us would be going to New York. Instead, busses to New York have been selling out with a rapidity and urgency that bespeaks an understanding that the time available to change our civilization’s fortunes is screeching to a halt. If we start the trip on time, goes our thinking, we’ll avoid a disastrous pile-up on the highway.
Vermonters’ connection with their own land is legendary. And, now, it appears, our tiny population has an outsized ability to perceive how the fortunes of our land and lives are tied to those of the globe. Boundaries are meaningless in the age of the polar vortex, and Vermonters know that. Our Merry Green Band is proving this weekend that we are willing to get out of our chairs, off our computers, and act for a just cause.
One criticism leveled at the march is that it is nebulous. It has no speakers and no demands, and takes no action other than self-reflexively revealing its own size. The size is an important message in itself, but how formidable that message is depends entirely on the marchers’ willingness to take local action afterwards. If we demand that politicians take action, we must, too.
My fellow marchers, when you return to the Green Mountains, please make your global commitment local by joining the fight against the fracked gas pipeline that threatens to rip through the heart of Vermont. The lesson from the march is that ripping the heart of Vermont is the same as ripping the heart of the world.
The pipeline’s climate connections: Methane, which is released during the fracking process, is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide; fracking uses an exorbitant quantity of pristine natural resources for a small amount of extreme and dwindling energy; and building fossil fuel infrastructure guarantees, by definition, more use and more extraction of fossil fuels. Additionally, the project is turning out to be a corporate boondoggle; average-income Vermonters are expected to pay for the project so that out-of-state multibillion dollar companies can profit; landowners are being abused; and, perhaps most important, we don’t need it.
We already have pipelines that bring gas 2,500 miles from Alberta, Canada. Leave well enough alone and do not expand the pipeline and create unnecessary, new dependence. We know that the oil and gas companies’ plans are to extract all they can from the earth, consequences be damned. The only ones who can stop them are us. Across all latitudes and longitudes people must leapfrog over the fossil fuel age and go directly to a future of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and new technologies.
If we can’t stop the suicidal increase of fossil fuel consumption here, in Vermont, where else could it be stopped? When we do stop it, Vermont will have taught the world much about how a global consciousness can take form locally. We who march together Sunday must return to our den, stand strong, and growl fiercely to protect our young. Our resolve will embolden lionesses everywhere.