People around the world are mobilizing, it seems, to press their governments and international corporations for action to address climate change with a growing sense of urgency. Concern also seems to be on the rise a bit here in the Bitterroot.
Recently one objector to the Gold Butterfly Project on the Bitterroot National Forest criticized the agency’s plans for not taking into account the latest information about global warming. He stressed the urgency to do that and recommended that they devise a method for integrating relevant scientific information and study results that are currently available into their decision making process. He noted that the scientific data referenced in the decision document was at least 10 years old. He said they were planning actions that would have very negative effects for a long period of time, up to 20 years, before the more positive results would emerge. He said if the latest global warming data was used it would be evident that those positive results will not come in time and the decades of negative impacts just add to the catastrophe.
In Stevensville, Town Council member Dempsey Vick gave his fellow council members till the end of the year to set in place a Climate Action Advisory Board. He said, “As a member of the American Meteorological Society and, more importantly, as a member of the Stevensville legislative branch, I can no longer stand idly by and allow us to exist with a town not having a plan that will help us combat the implications that will come due to climate change. Simply put, current council cannot let a day go by without a climate action plan.”
Vick said that in the next 20 years the town and the county would see a population growth as portions of the United States will no longer be habitable due to the increase in global temperature “which is expected to reach 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade in the next decade.”
“I am ashamed to be a member of the generation who has wasted the world’s resources and carelessly dumped our waste on the future generations. As a council, it is not only our right, it is our duty to begin a process to mitigate the repercussions of climate change,” stated Vick.
He asked the council to form a Climate Action Advisory Board made up of a council person, a member of the general public, a member of the Stevensville School Board, the rural fire department and a local physician.
A new non-profit, membership organization in the Bitterroot Valley has also recently been formed to promote local action on climate change.
In a press release the group, called Bitterroot Climate Action Group (BCAG), claims its purpose is “to take action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and mitigate or change human activities that contribute to climate change, acting with respect and civility to all.”
The group met regularly this summer, registered the organization with the State of Montana, adopted bylaws and elected an initial board from its membership.
“The BCAG is non-partisan, and welcomes all people interested in learning and working together as a community,” said Steve Schwarze, Program Director of the U of M Climate Studies program. He said the group plans to host some talks in the near future and he is on the spot to give the first presentation. He will speak about the social/political dimensions of climate change as well as what a small group in the valley could accomplish to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Also on the speakers list is a presentation by Kristy Bly on Innovating Climate Solutions for Wildlife. Bly is a Senior Wildlife Conservation Biologist for the World Wildlife Fund, Northern Great Plains.
An additional relevant talk this fall is going to be sponsored by the Bitterroot Audubon. Amy Cilimburg from Climate Smart Missoula will speak about climate and local birdlife on Monday, October 21 at 7 p.m. at the Forest Service/Natural Resource building in Hamilton.
Schwarze said the organization supports individual beneficial actions such as recycling, reducing home and business energy use, and installing residential and business solar projects. The group will also encourage cooperative actions, such as reducing food waste in the schools and community, working toward the installation of public electric vehicle charging stations, promoting policies that encourage the use of renewable energy sources, and learning about regenerative agricultural practices that protect both our climate and our rural Montana way of life. BCAG actions are intended to benefit the valley economically, socially, and environmentally, and to have a positive effect on climate change causes or effects.
He said they are looking for new members to provide input and help in website design, education, including recruiting speakers and events, constructing a literature/article library, which will be both a physical library and links on the webpage, food waste reduction group, currently an action/project idea engaging with public school students and local businesses, and in initiating new projects of interest.
BCAG can be reached by email at [email protected] and has a website (http://bitterrootcag.org), which is still under construction but allows people to sign up as members either on the link on the website itself, or through this Constant Contact link— http://bitterrootcag.org/member-signup.