Vt. lawmakers hear climate change concerns - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers hear climate change concerns

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Bill McKibben Bill McKibben

In an informal meeting of the Vermont House of Representatives, Speaker Shap Smith welcomed environmental activist Bill McKibben to speak on the issue of climate change.

Those with opposing views did not receive the same opportunity.

McKibben spoke of shrinking ice sheets and global temperature rise before turning his attention to the Green Mountains.

"Let's think about Vermont for a minute," he said.

McKibben asked legislators to support proposed thermal efficiency legislation. He says he appreciates the concerns of those proposing a wind moratorium, but says temperature rise poses more of a threat to majestic ridgelines. He concedes the Vermont efforts will not reverse warming.

"You can't control everywhere else, but you can try to provide some leadership," he said.

Earlier in the day, business leaders and state staff testified before multiple House committees to explain how they're affected by and adapting to climate change.

"It has caused us to spend money; it has caused us to save money and it offers us opportunity to make money," said Joe Fusco, vice president of Casella Waste Management.

Spokespeople for Casella say they treat climate change as a resource sustainability issue. The company has lowered emissions, in large part by capturing landfill gases, cutting the equivalent output of 182,000 cars.

Others spoke of climate's effects on tourist industries like the skiing

Farmers from both sides of the aisle said they've already adapted harvest cycles.

"Ideologically it's not a bad idea, but in reality, people in the state are suffering. They're having trouble paying their bills," said Rep. Ron Hubert, R-Milton.

Hubert says climate change should be dealt with at the federal rather than state level. He says Vermonters will absorb the cost of change without benefit if the rest of the world sits idle.

McKibben says humans have caused global temperature to rise about 1 degree Celsius. He says enough carbon has been pumped into the atmosphere to raise it an additional degree, and says a 4 degree rise would lead to mass extinctions.

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