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Letter: Toward a Sustainable Future

To the Editor:

Jon Wolper’s account of the fifth annual Community Energy and Action Conference, “Vt. Energy Advocates Eye 90% by 2050 Goal,” held at the Lake Morey Resort on Dec. 1, was clear and mostly encouraging. The gathering was an upbeat follow-up to an event that drew an overflow crowd at the Montshire Museum on Nov. 29.

During the Montshire meeting, Vermont Rep. Margaret Cheney and Bob Walker, founder and director of the Sustainable Energy Resource Group, presented an inspiring account of their recent journey through Germany, where they learned of astonishing progress toward the phasing out of fossil fuels and the development of green energy such as wind, solar and biomass.

Walker was one of the primary organizers of the conference at Lake Morey, and the only one from the Upper Valley. Ten years ago, he and a growing number of committed environmentalists began forming town energy committees, primarily in Vermont but also in New Hampshire. Today, under the umbrella of his organization, now a nonprofit organization, there are more than 100 in each state. This represents dynamic growth comparable to the progress in Germany.

My main concern about Wolper’s account is that he ended on a downbeat note — namely citing disbelief that the shared goal of increasing Vermont’s renewable energy use to 90 percent of total energy use by 2050 can be attained. If we seed skepticism, we invite many to turn their backs on the challenge.

I have 14-year-old twin grandsons who doubt that they will be able to live out their lives in a habitable Earth. Their doubts were recently intensified by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, since they live in New Jersey. It is crucial that they and their New England peers become aware of committed efforts to stanch global warming such as those led by the Sustainable Energy Resource Group.

Audrey McCollum

Etna