A past photo of a guided walk hosted by Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. The two organizations are now co-sponsoring a series to help people learn what actions will be most effective in addressing climate change. Photo by Janvier Smith

Two Midcoast environmental groups are hoping to inspire lasting climate action on the local level in the new year.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Cathance River Education Alliance will host a six-part series featuring climate action experts on topics like food production, waste, greenhouse gas emissions, the renewable energy transition and Maine’s specific climate plan.

“It’s the time that everybody makes their New Year’s resolutions, and we’re hoping one of their resolutions will be: ‘I’m going to do more, I’m going to do more on climate, I’m going to be taking action to slow climate change,’” said Cathance River Education Alliance Executive Director Caroline Eliot.

The release of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere from processes like burning fossil fuels is the primary cause of climate change. The emissions in the atmosphere then trap heat from the sun, like a greenhouse does, causing temperatures to rise and ice caps to melt.

In Maine, according to the Maine Climate Council, transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions at 54% of the state’s total. The council predicts that Maine will likely see between 1.1 and 1.8 feet of sea level rise by 2050. In addition, the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of water in the world.

On the Midcoast, according to Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Executive Director Angela Twitchell, these climate predictions could translate into increased flooding – damaging coastal houses, roads and marsh habitat. Warmer and drier weather because of climate change would also impact local agriculture production and practices, Twitchell said.


The speakers will discuss the implications of climate change on the individual, local, state and national levels. “We really wanted to give the broadest overview for our community to look at ways that they might be able to get inspired to actually take action on their own,” said Twitchell.

The first seminar scheduled for Jan. 6 will look at climate inaction and disinformation.

“There’s, as there has been for decades now, growing consensus on anthropogenic climate change, so climate change caused by human endeavors,” said Peter Dugas, one of the speakers and the co-chair for the Portland chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Despite the scientific consensus, Dugas said, well-funded strategies that align with the interests of the fossil fuel industry have continued to seed confusion, which translates to debate and inaction.

On the local level, Daniel Stone, a Bowdoin College professor who will be presenting with Dugas, warned of “national campaigns using misinformation and disinformation on social media and beyond are likely to affect the beliefs of people throughout the country, including here, which in turn are likely to affect local policy.”

Looking for references in literature, being mindful of confirmation bias and gathering information from reliable sources are three ways to recognize and avoid misinformation, Dugas said.


Later in the month, Nick Whatley, the owner of Whatley Farm in Topsham, will be speaking on the role that food production and food waste plays in climate change. Whatley Farm is a certified organic and has about three acres of vegetable production.

“The purpose of the talk is actually just to let people know how much agriculture and food waste and the whole food system is a contributor to climate change, and then to present solutions to that,” said Whatley, who will be speaking on Jan. 20 about environmentally friendly farming methods.

Whatley said that he hopes to instill to attendees the importance of sticking to local food production systems.

The series runs weekly on Thursday nights through Feb. 17 and will include voluntary homework. Tim Glidden, the recently retired president of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, will serve as the moderator.

For more information, visit BTLT.org

Comments are not available on this story.