Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Global Warming: Reality & Solutions for Vermont

Keep the Oil In the Ground!

Are you feeling the climate crisis? From Vermont’s extreme weather events to the severe droughts of the Midwest to the vanishing Arctic ice sheet, it is hard at times to stay hopeful about the future of our planet. Hope is found in our collective actions and our personal commitments to halt the excessive consumption of fossil fuels. We must keep oil, coal, and natural gas in the ground, because we do not have much time left before the damage to our planet is irreversible.Preview

Lake Champlain Flood, Spring 2011. Photo credit: VPR

The Simple Reality

If you haven’t yet read Bill McKibben’s article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” in Rolling Stone, we highly recommend it. He gives us three numbers that tell a simple, yet devastating, story:

  • 3.6ºF: international consensus is that our planet cannot warm more than 3.6ºF. It’s already warmed 0.8 degrees C (1.4ºF), which is causing much more damage than predicted;
  • 565 gigatons: scientists estimate that our atmosphere can handle no more than 565 gigatons of CO2 and still stay below the 3.6ºF temperature rise;
  • 2,795 gigatons: if burned, the coal, oil, and gas reserves of fossil-fuel companies and OPEC countries would equal about 2,795 gigatons of CO2. This is five times too much!

The Solutions

Vermont has a unique role to play in generating and promoting the solutions needed to address the climate crisis. We believe that Vermont can be a keystone in building a new vision of energy use and a fossil-fuel-free culture. Our small size and our tradition of local democracy mean that we have unique access to directly touching people, both our neighbors and our elected officials. We can more easily change policy and change lifestyles.

Although our work is broad and ambitious, we are focused, determined, and growing into a statewide citizen-driven movement:

  •  The  Tar Sands Free VT campaign is running strong. Our actions this summer (Tar Sands Free Walk and Human Oil Spill have fledged into a targeted campaign with a Town Meeting Day Resolution and awareness building with films and discussion panels.
  • The national Go Fossil Free campaign, kicked off in Burlington on October 13, is already adding muscle to the fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Campus-based campaigns are taking off across Vermont, and we are poised to move the campaign into many arenas (municipal funds, state pension funds, college-savings funds)
  • The Transportation Forums held around the state to rethink, redesign, and rebuild our transport system in a sustainable, efficient way are evolving into a Transportation Initiative that will have the capacity to impact the daily lives of each Vermonter.


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