MVC plans to tackle climate change

Preparations for a locally based, long-term plan to fight climate change are underway. 

From left, students Matti Wolverton, Grace Robinson, Volkert Kleeman, Clementine Zeender, Bea Welch, and Eirene Eville show their emotion during a student climate strike in 2019. The MVC's climate action plan will attempt to get the public, especially Island youth, engaged in the process. — Lucas Thors

There are many active climate change advocates on the Island. However, there are also many in the general public who are not informed about the local impact of climate change, what they can do to fight it, and some may even “fear” it. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission aims to change that. 

Members and staff of the MVC met with The Times via Zoom recently to discuss the commission’s efforts to create a climate action plan.

According to MVC climate change planner Liz Durkee, the action plan is a 20-year strategy to address the impact of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. She said the action plan has a “strong implementation plan,” so it doesn’t just sit on a shelf. Funding for the action plan comes from the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Action Grant. 

“Every one of us is or will be affected by the impact of climate change,” Durkee said. “We’re not just looking at coastal flooding in this plan. We’re looking at the big picture.”

There are six themes to the action plan: land use, transportation and infrastructure, food security, public health and safety, economic resilience, and energy transformation. The plan will look at climate change and the interrelated issues from a community-based perspective, using as much local knowledge and resources as possible. This means avoiding outside consultants and using local hires who know the Island, such as consultant Meghan Gombos from Aquinnah, who was on the call for the MVC. Additionally, input from the Island’s towns will be implemented in a regional effort so that they will be on the same page, and not be competing for resources in relation to the plan. 

Durkee said it will also be important to include the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) because of their traditional local knowledge, and because she believes the tribe would have an insight toward historic land use alongside the implementation of it today. 

“One of the most critical pieces of this plan is that it gets socialized within the public,” MVC commissioner Ben Robinson said. “There are die-hard climate supporters across the Island, and they show up at meetings regularly … but there’s a broad segment of the population that is not engaged, not really paying attention to this, don’t recognize the changes that will be coming, don’t recognize their role in this.”

Robinson also said the press’s role in spreading the word about climate change initiatives and the action plan is important to engage people. In particular, Robinson thinks getting high schoolers more involved would be beneficial, since the younger generations will be the ones who will need to face the consequences of climate change. 

“They’re going to be growing up and living with this,” Robinson said. “The climate crisis isn’t just a climate crisis, it’s an ecological crisis, it’s a pollution crisis. It really is about how we live on this planet, and for adults that’s tough, because we’re old dogs and … we have our ways and can’t change that. But the younger generations has the ability to actually change … and I think engaging them in that process is also going to help out adults, because I think people look at their children and grandchildren and have a different perspective on what they should be doing.” 

Durkee said MVC plans to involve interested high school students to be involved in the strategy’s thematic working groups alongside a youth intern. 

Durkee also pointed out that many people are “afraid of climate change” and would rather not think about it. Additionally, many people don’t know where to get information regarding climate change, especially with a local and everyday context. This emphasizes the importance of getting people more familiar with climate change. 

“We are trying to engage people from the towns from different boards and committees … because we see this process itself as a way to build our capacity as an Island and a community to have that climate lens,” Gombos said. “So it’s not about making the whole issue climate change, but looking at whatever issue is your focus area with that climate lens. We really think that if we get more people engaged … at the town level, and the broader community to have that lens through which they view things, then we’ll build our adaptive capacity going forward.”



      • Actually, we know that no harmful chemicals are used for the excellent organic grass fields at the Chilmark, West Tisbury and Oak Bluffs schools. And we also know that the plastic field proposed for our High School contains highly toxic chemicals that get even more toxic when exposed to solar heat (147 degrees!) and UV, and the hard friction of cleated shoes. As our teenagers play on these fields, their bodies will absorb these deadly plastic chemicals into their lungs, skin and blood, which will put them at high risk for developing cancer, reproductive abnormalities and genetic mutations.
        Grass or Plastic? This is an immensely important decision, far too important to be decided by just a handful of individuals sitting on MVC.
        All of us in this community must have a right to vote on this because it’s a major health issue that will haunt us for generations.
        And we have to ask, why would anyone still consider Plastic, with all it’s known and unknown risks, when excellent Grass Fields are thriving at several Vineyard school, are non-toxic and healthy, absorb tons of CO2, and will never need to be replaced, and also seem to be considerably less costly than Plastic Fields. So, really, why even consider Plastic?
        The fact is that ample amounts of robust evidence has proven that Plastic Fields, because of the intense stress factors, pose a particularly high risk of severe health consequences for our still-developing teenagers, and, I repeat, particularly affecting their sexuality, reproductive organs, and even their genes. For most up-to-date information, please google it.
        We are all Stake Holders in this Community Drama – it will affect us all – and I would guess that at least 80% of us do not know enough about either the Grass option or the Plastic Option, and if we don’t know enough, then we cannot make a wise decision. And that’s where we’re at.
        How about we launch a Public Opinion Poll/Petition (POP! as in pop the bubble of public fog): Grass or Plastic? Re-Vote? All hands on-deck, a month of meetings and events to inform and discuss the pros and cons of both Grass and Plastic. I would guess that the Public Opinion of the Vineyard would turn out to be 80% in favor of Grass, and in favor of a Re-Vote.
        We can do this! Who is willing to start writing the Petition?

    • I totally agree! Please see my comment below responding to Albert Hess.
      It’s not a done deal – we can stop it by launching an island-wide Public Opinion Poll/Petition (POP! as in pop the bubble of public fog): Grass or Plastic? Re-Vote? All hands on-deck, a month of meetings and events to inform and discuss the pros and cons of both Grass and Plastic. I would guess that the Public Opinion of the Vineyard would turn out to be 80% in favor of Grass, and in favor of a Re-Vote.
      We can do this! Who is willing to start writing the Petition?

  1. Important to approve all home demolitions to reduce Co2. Taking down a forest for wedding venue rentals at the MV museum was a really great carbon cutting tool. Vineyard Haven harbor with 32 more diesel trucks and a million tons of concrete will be a masterpiece example of cutting carbon. The MVC design for Shared Use Paths (dangerous and not allowed on any two lane road according to all safety manuals by Mass DOT) would have, if approved, mowed down a zillion trees on the island. With credentials like this we can rely on the MVC to impose cash penalties on anyone who dares to not follow their brilliant decrees. Actually, they need to be severely restrained. They are the most pro Co2 people on MV.

Comments are closed.