I’m a retired educator who has lived in Mashpee for 11 years. Soon I’ll be presenting Article 38 to Town Meeting to see if Mashpee is willing to join towns across Cape Cod to respond to a shared sense of climate emergency based on scientific data. Passage of this article will indicate that Mashpee is committed to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.

I urge everyone to view the 2018 documentary “The Human Element” to gain a better understanding of the problem we face. In this film, photographer James Balog explores how human activities alter the basic elements of life: earth, air, water and fire. He concludes that population growth, expanding technology, our desire for affluence and especially fossil fuel dependence are affecting our economy and reshaping our planet. In comparison, he points out that not only does renewable energy employ 360,000 people in the United States, but in the long run, it’s also less expensive for producers and consumers than fossil fuels.

Children are of great concern to me. Dr. Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University’s School of Public Health, believes that the most important thing we can do to keep children healthy is to mitigate climate change by addressing the causes listed above. Over time, particulate air matter causes children to develop heart disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases, conditions that will eventually make them more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. Dr. Bernstein believes that the city of Chelsea suffered a relatively high rate of COVID-19 because of its high levels of vehicle emissions and air pollution from burning fossil fuels.

In 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that we are definitely NOT on track for sufficient reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to prevent catastrophic outcomes like those mentioned above—and many more. The panel further concluded that more desirable outcomes can be achieved only if global carbon dioxide emissions start to decline well before 2030.

As members of an oceanfront community, we are especially at risk here on Cape Cod. Rising sea levels are destined to flood large areas of our coasts. Warmer and more acidic oceans endanger our fisheries and drinkable water. More frequent and more dangerous storms speed beach erosion, threaten tourism, destroy fisheries and threaten our homes and lives.

National and global leadership is critical, but much of what is needed must be implemented at the local level. What can be done? We can install solar and wind power, purchase electric vehicles, increase the availability of public electric-vehicle charging stations and preserve and expand our woodlands, a natural carbon storage system. We can encourage retrofitting homes, businesses and public buildings for energy efficiency and prioritize energy efficiency when we build.

Mashpee has already worked hard to accomplish many of these goals. Now I’m urging my Mashpee friends and neighbors to join those from other Cape Cod communities to declare a climate emergency. In doing so, we’ll endeavor to mobilize town government to search out opportunities to expand the use of renewable energy, assure that every new project incorporates efficiency and work toward a healthier planet. We don’t have another generation to get this done! Please support Article 38 at the upcoming Town Meeting.

Kathryn A. Jacobsen

Falmouth Road


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