Opinion: Consider environment when planning projects
Towns, cities, states, and countries around the world have pledged to slow the climate crisis. If our collective global society cannot sufficiently reduce emissions of heat-trapping gasses (mainly from burning coal, oil, and methane) to level off their concentrations in the atmosphere, the Earth will warm further, and the extreme weather events dominating headlines in recent years will worsen. This is the unanimous warning from bonafide climate scientists.
While the situation is dire and solutions must move quickly, there is no silver bullet. We must pull out all the stops to address this emergency that affects each and every one of us, but especially those who are least responsible for causing it: those with few resources to adapt to change or to recover from calamity when it strikes. The onus is on all of us to do our parts.
Massachusetts has committed to becoming a “net-zero” state by 2050, meaning that emissions from industry, power plants, and transportation must be balanced by carbon-absorbing forests, wetlands, and perhaps new technological solutions. This is no small feat. But Marion has several opportunities in development today that can help the state, and indeed all of us, achieve this goal:
New municipal buildings: Plans are well underway for a new Harbormaster’s office and Department of Public Works building. The residents of Marion should insist these are built to as near net-zero energy standards as possible. Yes, it costs a bit more at first, but the savings to taxpayers long-term far exceed the initial higher cost. Think solar panels on roofs, heat-pumps for heating and cooling, efficient insulation, and smart temperature controls. Massachusetts provides grants to municipalities for these sorts of energy-saving measures.
New housing developments: At least four major new housing developments are in the planning stages. All of these could and should be built to net-zero energy standards. Our membership in the Green Communities Program already requires adherence to the “stretch” building code, but residents could encourage solar panels on every suitable roof, heat pumps for heating and cooling, high-quality insulation, and underground utilities to reduce power outages.
The climate crisis belongs to all of us, and it’s up to all of us to address it. Let’s use these opportunities to show that Marion is a leader, not a lagger. Our children and theirs will thank us.