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This Earth Day, Let's Put Wildlife Over Waste

Patriot Ledger

To protect our marine animals, we need to rethink our use-it-once, throw-it-away economy. We can't allow a plastic bag that we use for five minutes to pollute our oceans for eternity.


Di Clymer celebrated as Concord's 2019 Honored Citizen

Concord Journal

The Senate


Worth reading

The NY Times

Judging from this, most of our Democratic candidates for President lack the political courage to address climate change.
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Dear Friend,
One fine morning this month I set out with my excellent dog Juno on her regular walk.  She likes to go off-leash in the woods near our house and, if our timing is right, meet up with some of her four-legged buddies.  This particular day she found her friends and they ambled and scrambled through the underbrush.  Afterwards she and I sat on the sofa and I gave her a good petting, which she loves.  A second later, a tick scuttled across the back of my hand.
Whoa!  I reacted instinctively, slapping it and tossing it away, but the moment stayed with me, because I am on red alert about ticks.  Friends and family tell me terrible personal stories about the consequences of bites, and the CDC reports that cases of tickborne illnesses, the most prevalent of which is Lyme disease, set a U.S. record in 2017, the most recent year for which the numbers are available.
All of this was rattling around in my head last week as I took a seat on the NYC-Boston Acela Express and dipped into  Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States.  I commend Legal Pathways to you, though not for a romantic getaway; hot off the press in March, it lays out 1,000+ recommendations on 35 discrete topics in 1,120 pages.  The idea is to assemble a toolkit or playbook on exactly how governmental action can drive down U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels, the absolute minimum science says is needed.  And, oh, we need to do this by 2050 -- just 31 years from now -- to spare the planet irreversible devastation.
The introductory chapter to  Legal Pathways sets out the public health implications of inaction.  Case in point: "Climate affects the distribution of diseases borne by fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.  Among the diseases spread by these vectors in the United States are Lyme, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  Climate change alters the geographic and seasonal occurrence of these diseases."
Hmmm.  Altered geography.  Altered seasonal occurrences.  Ticks and mosquitoes.  In Massachusetts, no question, the tiny critters are coming out earlier in the year and staying around later.  For me and my wife, this month's tick-on-the-arm episode is a turning point.  We've decided the local terrain is too low, too wet, and too tick-friendly, so we're curtailing something in which we've always taken pleasure: those walks in our beloved neighborhood woods, often with friends.
In the early mornings, Juno and I have a new routine.  We hop in the car -- note the moral compromise -- and motor across town to a higher, dryer woodland, where the underbrush is thinner and creepy crawly creatures will have fewer opportunities, at least in the short term, to glom onto her and then onto me.
And so it goes.  The climate shifts, bit by bit, and in turn we humans surrender a part of the way we live now.  At the moment, in the northeastern United States, what we're seeing are first-wave instances of adaptation and retreat by just a few individuals.  Soon enough there will be many such waves, involving many instances of retreat, by many people.
Marshalling an effective response requires a tweak in the message that voters direct to their elected officials.  It's no longer "Please be concerned about climate change," because almost every politician in Massachusetts already is.  It needs to be, in heartfelt but insistent tones, "Make climate change an urgent priority," because the urgency is overdue and public patience for politeness itself can run short.

I work hard on other issues, but put me in the climate-is-job-one camp.  Which sends me back to  Legal Pathways.  The very density of its 1,120 pages is testament to the book's bottom-line message: There is hope.  Though they may come with costs -- in dollars, convenience, and adjustments in old familiar habits -- there are solutions.  Leading out of this mess are pathways, but we need to set out on them, soon.
Don't despair, organize.  And don't give me much credit.  I'm only on page 87.  I have a long way to go.

Senator Mike Barrett
 Pole-Capped in Bedford

Bedford is the nation's memory-keeper for pole capping, a messaging system used in the run-up to the American Revolution.  Colonists would announce a political meeting by mounting a cap on a tall pole, visible to all.  The English could expect the get-together but wouldn't know the time or the place.  Psychological warfare.  Must have driven them crazy.  I joined State Rep.  Ken Gordon  in speaking at this year's Pole Capping Celebration.  We set up a pole.  A physically fit Bedfordian shimmied to the top and and left his cap up there. People cheered.  Bands played.  A good time was had by all, and we thought about the country.
The Fair Share Amendment: Progressive and Reasonable  

Joined my Senate and House colleagues to testify in support of the "Fair Share Amendment."  The proposal would give a much-needed boost to funding for education and transportation.  If approved by the Legislature and then Mass. voters, on the next dollar you earn after your first million in annual income, you'll pay approximately nine pennies rather than approximately five.  Adds up to an income tax that's progressive and reasonable.