Acting locally, thinking globally


“You say you hear us, and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.” –Greta Thunberg at the United Nations earlier this week


Those are strong words from Greta, the young woman from Sweden at the center of the Global Climate Strike last week. It’s time for strong words and stronger action.

Friday’s Global Climate Strike created a sense of urgency, and we need to sustain the momentum generated that day.

The Vineyard responded to the Global Climate Strike with an impressive showing — students from West Tisbury headed to New York City, and others from the high school took off for a rally in Boston. On the Island, there were also plenty of opportunities to lend a voice to the international strike. Students who remained at MVRHS went outside in large numbers to hold signs and urge action on climate change. There were events in Aquinnah, Menemsha, and at Thimble Farm with Island Grown Initiative, and dozens of people rallied at Five Corners, holding signs and chanting for a change in attitudes about our planet. “There is no Planet B,” stated one \particularly poignant sign.

The climate deniers notwithstanding (where do they get their information?), Martha’s Vineyard is particularly vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise. As we reported earlier this month, Dukes County is one of the fastest warming counties in the country, according to data collected by the Washington Post. 

In that story, we reported that Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, the Elizabeth Islands, and parts of Cape Cod are crossing the 2° Celsuis threshold — a critical point of reference established in the 2015 Paris accord, where international leaders agreed the earth’s average temperature increases should stay “well below” 2° Celsius to avoid a host of “catastrophic changes.”

The Washington Post report says the Northeast is particularly vulnerable to a weakening Gulf Stream, less cloud cover, and higher temperatures brought on by greenhouse gas emissions.

It seems like every day there is a new study or report pointing to the implications of climate change. On Wednesday, a story in The New York Times said that the world’s oceans are in danger as a result of climate change, which could affect shellfish harvesting, which would be huge for the Island. “Rising temperatures are contributing to a drop in fish populations in many regions, and oxygen levels in the ocean are declining, while acidity levels are on the rise, posing risks to important marine ecosystems, according to the report issued Wednesday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders in policymaking,” the New York Times reported.

There are people, including the current administration in Washington, D.C., who don’t believe there is urgency. They call climate change a “hoax” and ignore the real data. Others see no point to the U.S. making changes when China and other countries haven’t bought in to the need to reduce pollution from fossil fuels. 

How is that any way to lead?

We need to do our part and show true leadership on the world stage. Unfortunately, we’re being led by a president who doesn’t believe the science. We’re wasting valuable time.

Preserving the planet shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

The world’s youth are begging us to do something about climate change. Here on the Island, Plastic Free MV has been a leader in getting adults to understand the need to change old habits. Last spring, they convinced voters in three up-Island towns to ban single-use plastic bottles, and this coming spring, they’ll be bringing that idea to the down-Island towns.

The Island is taking action in other ways, through a task force put together by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the Island Climate Action Network.

It’s these types of small steps that will create big changes. We don’t have to do it all at once, but we do have to make dealing with climate change a top priority.

“Right here, right now is where we draw the line,” Greta said to the U.N. “The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

Let’s hope she’s right.


  1. I don’t think I will come under the authority of the worlds youth who are begging us to do something. What they are asking me to do is completely unrealistic and no one will do it. Most people are willing to acknowledge some warming and no catastrophe, but are not going to buy into the hyperbole.

  2. I would like to get a take on President Obama, who I think we can all agree had a pretty clear position on this subject, who made a purchase of an at risk coastal home. Seems like a poor or at least ironic investment no?

    • whale oil—Obama’s house is at about 10 ft above sea level. He knows that even the worst case scenarios outlined by the real scientist and not nut case fear mongering millionaires on fox news , on seal level rise will not reach his doorstep in his lifetime.

  3. Obama is taking the risk whale oil driller. He will enjoy that house—has he purchased it yet? If he buys the house he will be dead before the water rises to his porch. All his is doing is enjoying his money as are his buddies with their Gulfstreams flying around to Davos and other places lecturing us on climate change. Do your paper straws and an occasional Prius but when it comes to real sacrifice no one is going to do it and everyone knows it. Are you going to give up your aircon in the summer or your heating in the winter? Stop flying or driving? Ok you want to do the little things as part of the community go ahead but leave the rest of us alone. Listening to the Washington Post or the NY Times or the UN is craziness. They are wrong on everything. Where do climate deniers get their info? We get it from other scientists who dont have an agenda. We also know that the extreme measures being called for are silly and we aint gonna listen to a 16 year old who belongs in school and whose parents are abusing and exploiting her and her sister. Parents who know their children suffer from Aspergers and OCD and ADHD and Mutism and eating disorders and other illnesses and yet scared them at age 8 about climate change. This nice young teen is being driven by theatrical parents who should be caring for their children’s maladies rather than parading them on the world stage to mouth cliches.

    • andrew– you know nothing about Greta’s parents or their motives. How is it that you just allege a bunch of medical conditions concerning a young woman you have never met based on lies from despicable people who will defame anyone who does not kowtow to their ideologies. Your lying right wing so called sources are truly the bottom of the latrine. Greta has more morality, courage and conviction than all but a few people in the world— that is why she is addressing the united nations and leading millions of people for a just cause. She is not asking you to anything– she is asking the leaders of the world to give billions of people better ecological choices. Shame on you for spreading unsubstantiated rumors about her medical conditions, and shame on George Brennan for allowing this slander to be up here for even one second.

      • Dondondon. The UN are not the leaders of the world and can do very little. In fact in most cases they do more harm. You have not met her or her family and know nothing of her morality and courage and conviction. My sources on her suffering are ironclad and come from her parents who call her illnesses a ”superpower”. There is no slander and I ask you to prove it. I would be upset with Greta if she went about pushing for pro-life and condemning abortion in the way she is doing it. This has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with her parents exploiting her.

        • You don’t know what you are talking about, Andrew. Your ignorance of Asperger’s is stunning. You’re copying the same angry, ignorant and hypocritical talking points of Fox News, who had one commentator call Greta Thumberg “mentally ill”. It is Greta herself who views her Asperger’s as a super power because, as she articulately points out far better than I could ever describe, it keeps her extremely focused. It’s also not at all unusual for children to lead the way to do good and right in the world. For example, do you think all the black children who marched with MLK were “indoctrinated” by their parents? Or the student activists for gun control? How about Malala? She was 15 when she was shot for standing up for good. Maybe you should be examining why a child’s articulate passion for good in the world makes you so spittin’ angry, but why you’re fine with a lying, cheating conman who is tearing our country and our Constitution apart while he demeans the office of the Presidency. This latest outrage and rant of yours, against a child and her parents, is not very Christian-y for someone who claims to follow the teachings of your savior, but it is exactly what all the angry, right-wing, fake-Christian, Trump supporters are saying about young Greta Thunberg. Just pointing out how little you actually do think for yourself. Angry privileged white guys and gals, like on Fox News, may think they get to determine who is being exploited, but they don’t get to not sound ridiculous and ignorant while doing it.

          • Here’s the “source” you should read and consider, Andrew, not the untrue and hate-filled rants you normally go to. This is Greta herself:

            “Recently I’ve seen many rumors circulating about me and enormous amounts of hate. This is no surprise to me. I know that since most people are not aware of the full meaning of the climate crisis (which is understandable since it has never been treated as a crisis) a school strike for the climate would seem very strange to people in general.
            So let me make some things clear about my school strike.
            In may 2018 I was one of the winners in a writing competition about the environment held by Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish newspaper. I got my article published and some people contacted me, among others was Bo Thorén from Fossil Free Dalsland. He had some kind of group with people, especially youth, who wanted to do something about the climate crisis.
            I had a few phone meetings with other activists. The purpose was to come up with ideas of new projects that would bring attention to the climate crisis. Bo had a few ideas of things we could do. Everything from marches to a loose idea of some kind of a school strike (that school children would do something on the schoolyards or in the classrooms). That idea was inspired by the Parkland Students, who had refused to go to school after the school shootings.
            I liked the idea of a school strike. So I developed that idea and tried to get the other young people to join me, but no one was really interested. They thought that a Swedish version of the Zero Hour march was going to have a bigger impact. So I went on planning the school strike all by myself and after that I didn’t participate in any more meetings.
            When I told my parents about my plans they weren’t very fond of it. They did not support the idea of school striking and they said that if I were to do this I would have to do it completely by myself and with no support from them.
            On the 20 of august I sat down outside the Swedish Parliament. I handed out fliers with a long list of facts about the climate crisis and explanations on why I was striking. The first thing I did was to post on Twitter and Instagram what I was doing and it soon went viral. Then journalists and newspapers started to come. A Swedish entrepreneur and business man active in the climate movement, Ingmar Rentzhog, was among the first to arrive. He spoke with me and took pictures that he posted on Facebook. That was the first time I had ever met or spoken with him. I had not communicated or encountered with him ever before.
            Many people love to spread rumors saying that I have people ”behind me” or that I’m being ”paid” or ”used” to do what I’m doing. But there is no one ”behind” me except for myself. My parents were as far from climate activists as possible before I made them aware of the situation.
            I am not part of any organization. I sometimes support and cooperate with several NGOs that work with the climate and environment. But I am absolutely independent and I only represent myself. And I do what I do completely for free, I have not received any money or any promise of future payments in any form at all. And nor has anyone linked to me or my family done so.
            And of course it will stay this way. I have not met one single climate activist who is fighting for the climate for money. That idea is completely absurd.
            Furthermore I only travel with permission from my school and my parents pay for tickets and accommodations.
            My family has written a book together about our family and how me and my sister Beata have influenced my parents way of thinking and seeing the world, especially when it comes to the climate. And about our diagnoses.
            That book was due to be released in May. But since there was a major disagreement with the book company, we ended up changing to a new publisher and so the book was released in august instead.
            Before the book was released my parents made it clear that their possible profits from the book ”Scener ur hjärtat” will be going to 8 different charities working with environment, children with diagnoses and animal rights.
            And yes, I write my own speeches. But since I know that what I say is going to reach many, many people I often ask for input. I also have a few scientists that I frequently ask for help on how to express certain complicated matters. I want everything to be absolutely correct so that I don’t spread incorrect facts, or things that can be misunderstood.
            Some people mock me for my diagnosis. But Asperger is not a disease, it’s a gift. People also say that since I have Asperger I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this. Because if I would have been ”normal” and social I would have organized myself in an organisation, or started an organisation by myself. But since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead. I was so frustrated that nothing was being done about the climate crisis and I felt like I had to do something, anything. And sometimes NOT doing things – like just sitting down outside the parliament – speaks much louder than doing things. Just like a whisper sometimes is louder than shouting.
            Also there is one complaint that I ”sound and write like an adult”. And to that I can only say; don’t you think that a 16-year old can speak for herself? There’s also some people who say that I oversimplify things. For example when I say that “the climate crisis is a black and white issue”, ”we need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases” and ”I want you to panic”. But that I only say because it’s true. Yes, the climate crisis is the most complex issue that we have ever faced and it’s going to take everything from our part to ”stop it”. But the solution is black and white; we need to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases.
            Because either we limit the warming to 1,5 degrees C over pre industrial levels, or we don’t. Either we reach a tipping point where we start a chain reaction with events way beyond human control, or we don’t. Either we go on as a civilization, or we don’t. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival.
            And when I say that I want you to panic I mean that we need to treat the crisis as a crisis. When your house is on fire you don’t sit down and talk about how nice you can rebuild it once you put out the fire. If your house is on fire you run outside and make sure that everyone is out while you call the fire department. That requires some level of panic.
            There is one other argument that I can’t do anything about. And that is the fact that I’m ”just a child and we shouldn’t be listening to children.” But that is easily fixed – just start to listen to the rock solid science instead. Because if everyone listened to the scientists and the facts that I constantly refer to – then no one would have to listen to me or any of the other hundreds of thousands of school children on strike for the climate across the world. Then we could all go back to school.
            I am just a messenger, and yet I get all this hate. I am not saying anything new, I am just saying what scientists have repeatedly said for decades. And I agree with you, I’m too young to do this. We children shouldn’t have to do this. But since almost no one is doing anything, and our very future is at risk, we feel like we have to continue.

            And if you have any other concern or doubt about me, then you can listen to my TED talk (…/greta_thunberg_the_disarming_…/up-next ), in which I talk about how my interest for the climate and environment began.
            And thank you everyone for you kind support! It brings me hope.
            Ps I was briefly a youth advisor for the board of the non profit foundation “We don’t have time”. It turns out they used my name as part of another branch of their organisation that is a start up business. They have admitted clearly that they did so without the knowledge of me or my family. I no longer have any connection to “We don’t have time”. Nor has anyone in my family. They have deeply apologised and I have accepted their apology.”

          • Jackie, I do not subscribe to the comments made by some person about the teen Greta. I know a lot about Aspergers. I stand by my factual comments about the illnesses of both daughters. I do fault the parents and would do so even if Greta were advancing one of my causes. I do not think that her position will change the behavior of most people who are unwilling to sacrifice their standard of living. I have no malice towards the young lady and I am certain that many people share my opinion who are not evangelical Christians as you say. Evangelical right wing Christian is the first thing from you when you respond to my posts and it is not becoming.

          • ppfluger– thank you for the link to the ted talk– yes, she is truly extraordinary , and indeed has “superpowers”

          • Jackie— Your “fake christian” comment is great–
            it has inspired me to coin a phrase here– “cino” — Christian in name only– I think that is a perfect way to describe the attitude of bible thumping hypocrites, who ignore the teachings of christ, while wrapping themselves in the moral mantle of christianity.

        • Andrew, what is unbecoming is repeatedly saying things that are untrue.
          One example from your above comment:
          “Listening to the Washington Post or the NY Times or the UN is craziness. They are wrong on everything.”
          Wrong on everything? That is as hysterical, untrue, and as damaging a lie as Trump declaring that main stream media is the enemy of the people. It is wrong to lie.
          And another:
          “Where do climate deniers get their info? We get it from other scientists who dont have an agenda.”
          Show me respected scientific evidence that says what “climate deniers” like you say. Show me.

          The problem with people not telling the truth, over and over, is that no one believes, trusts, or respects a single thing they may have to say, even when they do sometimes tell the truth. No one listens to people who easily and frequently lie. Just as important, liars are seen as lacking character, ethics and empathy for others. Look at Trump.

          Educate yourself before you go off on someone like Greta Thunberg, her parents and Asperger’s. She deserves our support because she provides our world with hope, dignity, honesty, and sound, common sense intelligence. You can’t say that about the corrupt liar in the WH that you and the evangelicals support.

          • Jackie it is not unusual for people to make exaggerated statements for emphasis. ”Oh that Trump guy doesnt know anything”. ”Those climate deniers are all crazy” You know it and I know it. Yet you make a federal case out of my antipathy for the UN. I have sent your friend Dondondon a list of scientists that I use as a resource and that is only a partial list. It might surprise you that there are many distinguished scientists that disagree with conventional wisdom or consensus on this subject. By the way may I from now on call you a liberal secular non completed Jew? Just as you call me a right wing evangelical fake Christian?

          • Andrew, it is not unusual for people who don’t tell the truth to minimize an untruth by ignoring the worst, most damaging aspect of it. As you know, Trump has worked very hard to get Americans to mistrust reliable, award-winning news and opinion sources like the Washington Post and NY Times, and you bolster Trump’s repeated lie of “fake news/lame stream media/enemy of the people” when you write here that WaPo and NY Times are “wrong on everything” but pretend now only to be referring to the UN with a claim you were “exaggerating”.

            Had to look up what a “non completed Jew” is: It is a Messianic Jew, (an oxymoron). Other than the reality of being a moderate Democrat who is not entirely secular in my religion, I am not Christian, which is what a Messianic Jew actually is. So, if you call me “a liberal secular non completed Jew,” you would not be truthful, so no, you may not call me that. When any member of a group with an extreme agenda begins to tell Jews who is Jewish, who is not, and who accepts a savior they don’t believe in, they walk on very shaky ground.

            FYI, “climate deniers” say climate change is a hoax altogether, so searching for a few rogue “scientists” on Wikipedia who acknowledge climate changes but don’t attribute them to human behavior, does not validate your many untruths about Greta Thunberg and her family. More important, as Greta has pointed out, hating on her and her family avoids talking about the topic: climate change and how to make government leaders deal with it.

          • Jackie– you are incorrect about no one believing liars– Since the impeachment inquiry has started, the few fox loving republican friends I have all defend trump with the lies they hear, and speak of it like the true “heads full of mush” ( rush limbaugh’s term for his listeners) that they are. A lot of people have said that if you lie to the people long enough they will believe it’s true. believe me–it’s true..
            On the day Obama left office 29% of Americans still believed he was a Muslim.
            I am so happy I made the decision to convert to Pastafarianism– it’s a pretty simple religion.

  4. Trumpies must be having a very, very bad day when they have time to worry about Obama and his house falling into the ocean.

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