Commentary

Let's make 2022 our 'spring of hope'

Art Currier and Ron Martino reflect on the ups and downs of 2021 and share their hopes for the new year

Photo by Pauline Heidmets on Unsplash
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship with an appreciation for our surroundings and the well-being of future generations. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

"The year 2021 will go down as a turning point in history."

The changes it has brought to civilization will be considered as significant as those of the industrial revolution and scientific discoveries of the previous century.

It’s been the year governments, corporations and scientific organizations joined together at COP26 (the climate change conference in Glasgow) to take strong action to effect progress against our climate crisis.

It has been the year in which population growth stalled worldwide and COVID-19 killed millions. It’s also the year that climate crumbled like an iceberg as sea levels increased and greenhouse gases continued to grow.

It’s been like Charles Dickens wrote in a Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”

In Massachusetts, state and local governments have worked hard, but with mixed results to cope with climate change and the pandemic. On the good news side, officials are taking steps to clean up our rivers, approve clean energy development with approval of offshore wind power and grants for solar power, home energy saving programs and better transit.

On the downside

The bureaucracy has been slow to respond to the need for more clean energy while relying on utility friendly processes that expand our reliance on natural gas by approving new pipelines for fracked gas.

Here, in the Green and Blue City of Newburyport, the record is mixed.

On the good side

We made progress on implementing our resiliency plan and the recent election will seat four city councilors with the scientific and engineering expertise and experience to understand and not deny the statistical likelihood of major storm surge and sea level rise. These will cause flooding on large portions of the city putting our water supply at risk in the coming years after a hurricane-like storm. Our new mayor, administration and City Council will need to be proactive to face that troubling possibility. These technical skills with a committed city government to foster collaborative approaches to city leadership challenges can produce great advances.

On the civic volunteer side, Women In Action Huddle, the Merrimack, Parker and Ipswich River nonprofit guardians along with Storm Surge and Greenbelt have informed and mobilized public education and action.

We need to give a shout-out to the district’s school staff and administrators, and the city and local organizations and businesses for giving young people opportunities to share their talents and passions, raise their voices, and get engaged as active citizens.

"We need local action"

But most citizens have done little yet in the face of the impending climate crisis. We need to acknowledge that the scientific evidence and the worldwide climate related experiences can no longer be ignored. We need local action that can make a positive impact on the climate and health of the environment.

The gift of this moment is that almost every responsible person in the world is challenged by some form of bewilderment about what to do about the world of climate change that confronts us daily. There can be a feeling of isolation, disconnection, depression, anxiety and extreme concern.

The collective experience of the recent coronavirus pandemic and the realities of the impact of climate change will reshape all of us and may well point our lives in new directions.

The launch of an organization that speaks to stewardship, being in service to organizations addressing the climate/environmental challenges, and facilitating collaboration aligns well with this moment.

It is fortunate that the Greater Newburyport community has individual steward leaders, a spirited number of environmental steward organizations, and a general appreciation for the importance of our natural environment combined with the awareness of the threats of climate change.

The opportunity exists to address these needs and opportunities through a commitment to collaboration. ACES, as an in-service entity, is focused on supporting collaboration and ensuring that all shareholders and residents understand this effort is for the well-being of future generations. Continuing to provide environmental stewardship and experiential learning opportunities among ACES Youth Corps members is vital for the future.

The rest of Dickens’ quote from a “Tale of Two Cities” continues: “It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope.”

We should all put 2021 behind us and engage and mobilize to help future generations enjoy our beautiful city and world at large.

"Let’s make 2022 our spring of hope"

Art Currier and Ron Martino are co-founders of Storm Surge and ACES along with others. This column was coordinated by ACES Youth Corps member Caleb Bradshaw. To share any comments or questions, send an email to acesnewburyport@gmail.com. For more about ACES, go to www.aces-alliance.org.

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about the author
about the co-authors
Arthur Currier

As the Principal of Currier & Associates, Art guides individuals and organizations to have clarity about their PURPOSE and the actions needed to be aligned. Concerned about the well-being of youth and future generations, he is leading ACES to fulfill its purpose and goals to foster stewardship and motivate positive actions for our environment.

Ron Martino

After a career in Marketing for science and high tech based corporations, Ron is a member of the Marketing Communications Team of the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards (ACES) where he often focuses on our communication strategies both in traditional and social media.