Islanders look for ways to minimize the blow of climate change

Marnie Stanton's artwork. Each piece represents a topic related to climate change. — Photo by Yoojin Cho

We saw the temperature reaching almost 80 degrees in mid-October, and then just a couple days before Halloween, mother nature surprised us with a snowstorm, covering some parts of Massachusetts under two feet of snow.

This strange weather pattern caused power outages and ferry cancellations over the weekend. Many New England towns even cancelled or postponed trick-or-treating.

On Martha’s Vineyard, although the storm didn’t bring snow, some Vineyarders believe gust of wind of over 30 miles per hour and low temperatures all point toward one issue, climate change. And initiatives to learn more and prepare for this changing weather pattern are already brewing.

Members of Island Climate Action Network (ICAN) met last Thursday to discuss what they can do as individuals to mitigate the effect of climate change.

Though only in planning stages, the organization has attracted many supporters from Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellows, South Mountain Company and Island residents.

“The changes in the climate we don’t know exactly what the effects will be,” South Mountain Company President John Abrams said. “We know storms are more frequent. Whether that happens swiftly or slowly, it feels like it’s worth addressing, preparing for and doing something about it. It may change the economy and how we live.”

ICAN has already hosted one event in conjunction with a global movement headed by Bill McKibben, In September, they held an open forum at Grace Church during which participants discussed the importance of biking and walking, instead of driving. (We wrote about it here.)

Matt Coffey, one of the founders of ICAN, said, the main purpose is to educate. Since climate change is such a complicated topic, Mr. Coffey said, “[ICAN will] follow Massachusetts Climate Action Network’s lead and host workshops and invite speakers.”

He said, the group will focus on educational public events to raise awareness.

In the meeting, they also discussed a possibility of working with Vineyard Energy Project to broaden the reach.

Marnie Stanton, an artist who produced artworks and a documentary film about climate change, said “There’s a real need for action and a real need to simplify the information. Mother nature doesn’t care whether we can get it together or not.”

Liz Durkee of Vineyard Conservation Society said, “It’s all related, the land, the environment, the economy and our body.”

She attributed an increase in asthma and allergy cases to mold caused by increased flooding and poor environmental conditions caused by the holes in the Ozone layer.

By the end of the meeting, the group established a steering committee, a loose leadership core that will plan future meetings and events.

Next ICAN meeting will take place at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, November 16.

Watch the video for a short interview with Mr. Coffey, Mr. Abrams and Ms. Stanton.