Recognizing the massive climate change rally playing out across the world on Friday, Sept. 20, several local environmental groups gathered at Rady Park in Warrenton to compare notes on recent projects and share information.
Adam Rossi, environmental science teacher at Highland School in Warrenton and member of the Fauquier County Climate Change Group welcomed about 20 humans (and one dog) to the gathering. Group leaders introduced themselves and explained their missions.
The Fauquier Climate Change Group meets every third Wednesday at Fauquier Hospital’s Bistro on the Hill at 7 p.m. Its mission is “to raise awareness of climate change and advocate solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
‘We get together to talk and work on projects. It’s a fun group,” said Rossi.
Sara Lara is the head of a Warrenton nonprofit, Women for Conservation. She said she feels that women working together can make a real difference in protecting wildlife and their habitats. She talked about the species of birds that have been lost in recent years. Their loss could have been prevented through awareness, she said.
A civil engineer, she added, “I think women have been neglected and ignored in conservation spaces. I want to educate women who want to be part of the solution.”
Cindy Burbank, representing Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said her group focuses on influencing government policy. With 18 local members, the organization spans the globe. Its focus, she said, is on bipartisan solutions. “We have been working with Del. Denver Riggleman, R-Va. 5th, and have seen a lot of movement.”
One national bill the group has been working on – The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act -- has 63 sponsors thus far. It places a price on carbon at the source, charging businesses. In turn, they charge households, who start to use less of that energy to reduce their cost.
The bill is meant to appeal to conservatives as well as progressives, she said. It sends a signal to businesses to innovate, and the money collected is given back to households. “Several large oil companies are supporting it,” she said. “It lets the marketplace work, rewarding those who cut back on energy usage and encouraging innovation.”
Julie Bolthouse, Fauquier field officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council, reminded those assembled that the PEC “always has climate change at the back of everything we do.”
She talked about the group’s emphasis on public transportation (instead of road construction), land use and land conservation. “Land conservation is the number one way to prevent climate change,” she said.
She added that the PEC lobbies the general assembly on energy issues and is working on initiatives to “Solarize the Piedmont.”
Gerry Eitner spoke for her group, Communities of Peace. One of the group’s gradually emerging goals is a response to climate change. “We’re all in this together,” Eitner says on her website (communitiesofpeace.org). “We’re now sponsoring gatherings of women who are involved in climate change, called “Climate Change – From the Heart.” Our intention is to connect, collaborate, cross-fertilize and create sustainable solutions, at all levels.”
Kathy Ellis, representing the Green Team at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Warrenton (see accompanying box) explained that young people are deciding not to have children because of climate anxiety. “They don’t want to bring children into this world … We need a way to address the anger people feel and their sense of loss for the future they thought was guaranteed.”
She said the church will be sponsoring listening sessions this fall so that people can express their grief and support one another. “People need to know that we are not in this alone,” she said.
Before gathering to take a group photograph to mark the occasion, Rossi summed up how he feels about climate change activism, “What gives us hope is the ability to act.”
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