My farming life has offered me insights into an ecological perspective on our anthropocentric
era. Every acre I manage, I’ve learned, will have a maximum productivity. Science has helped
to stretch that productivity, but the limits are very real and force me to plan my resources and
business plan within those limits. That is an important difference between agriculture and non-agricultural businesses. Commercial and industrial business models, while relying on the work of exploited natural resources in their business plans, can chart a course far less confined by weather and soil capacities. That helps explain how successful capitalism has been for non-agricultural businesses.
I farm about forty acres. By measuring that land potential, and limits, I know I can estimate a hay harvest around one hundred bales per acre, or four-thousand bales of hay. A cow requires around one bale a day for feed. I know I can support eleven cows on my farm. If I buy feed grown somewhere else to support more cows, I’m simply expanding my acreage and am still living within the limits of soil and plant capacities.
Farming teaches me the reality and demands of closed ecological systems. With the remarkable industrial revolution event, we were seemingly freed from our ecological limits. The prosperity has been extraordinary, raising the burden of poverty for many around the world. That freedom, however, has led us to environmental problems. The worst being releasing carbon dioxide and other gases into our atmosphere. It is the equivalent of now having more cows on the farm than I can feed. It has become increasingly apparent that exploiting our limited planets resources leads us back to my farming model. We live in a closed, limited
ecological system. Ignoring that, as we have, now forces us to face climate changes that threaten the stability of our world.
We’ve been pondering this challenge since the 70’s when I was in new environmental classes in college. The chin pulling from those days has moved us to important cultural and policy changes on environmental worries. Recognizing the extent of our climate crisis will hopefully launch us into another stage of ecological science and policies.
That’s how farming led me to run for a seat on the Selectboard of Pepperell. The State of Massachusetts, our state, has set the expectations of our towns and cities participation in bringing down our carbon footprint. I am working to make Pepperell a leader, as in like-sized
towns in the Commonwealth, in mitigating the risks of climate change.
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will be posting a Massachusetts Roadmap to 0 Carbon by 2050 by the end of this year. They are calculating our current carbon footprint and identifying ways to reduce and save energy, and sequester carbon and other gases. I believe each town in the Commonwealth is obligated to participate in reaching the 0 carbon goal.
How does Pepperell do that? At the municipal level, I recommend that both the proposed Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness group and the Pepperell Master Plan Implementation teams be formed as soon as possible. The Light, Air and Noise Committee also contributes to solutions on environmental issues. Their shared mission is to research what Pepperell’s current carbon footprint is and then recommend how Pepperell can reduce that number through energy policies and sequestration methods. I anticipate that new by-laws will be required to guide a carbon reduction economic growth path. I believe new commercial and residential growth cannot add to our carbon footprint and must be able to measure and show that it is carbon neutral in its plan. I suspect that new single family homes will be especially challenged by this
expectation. I hope that climate change policies will promote concentrated, efficient townhouse construction in downtown areas. We are very lucky to still have open conservation and farmland spaces in Pepperell. They are an essential resource for lowering our current carbon
footprint and offering sequestration opportunities.
At the citizen level, first I ask thy support and demand town government prioritize climate change mitigation. Secondly, I ask that citizens join one another in a shared effort to change their lifestyles to better reduce and save energy and sequester their household carbon footprint. It is a huge challenge and requires very real sacrifices in our lives. It is also an opportunity to strengthen our community ties in a shared effort to save our children from the frightening risks of a warming and changing planet.
We have a remarkable resource of people with an education and passion for fighting climate change. Putting their abilities to community work, I am confident, can engage the public and drive a welcome new closed ecological direction for our town that we can take great pride in and we can assure our youth we are doing all we can to protect them from environmental harm.