Thursday, April 14, 2022

Citizens Comment: Dave Rittenhouse on the climate crisis to Town Council Mtg 04/13/22

Good Evening. Thank you for the opportunity to make a citizen comment. I’m David Rittenhouse on Hunters Run and I’m a climate activist and member of 350 Mass. Our meetings are open to the public and are announced via the Franklin Matters Newsletter.

The climate crisis has become increasingly difficult to ignore in the last few years:

Smoke from western wildfires for months last year blew across the whole continent to Massachusetts contributing to our local air pollution so that people with respiratory illnesses and parents had to look at air quality indexes to know whether it was safe to go outside.

Just last week torrential downpours created flash floods in dry Australia, of all places, with flash floods in Sydney and thousands ordered to evacuate. Faraway places are harder to feel a connection to so I’ll focus on closer to home.

One place I pay attention to is the American Southeast as I have friends and relatives who live there. Tornadoes are happening with increasing frequency, numbers and severity all over the South, often with whole clusters as part of a strong weather front that passes through. Every time I worry about their safety.

It used to be that it was helpful to know if you needed an umbrella or not, but now with climate change making the weather more severe, it’s not a casual thing anymore.

It will only get worse unless we take bold action. Yes, it’s a big problem and yes, Franklin is only one town, but everyone needs to do their part, from individual action to town wide initiatives to coordinating on the regional and state levels. Franklin can take bold action.

I’m pleased with the progress Franklin has made with town electric vehicles and LED street lighting and being a Green Community. Franklin schools & town buildings get 95% of their electrical power from local solar panels. That’s fantastic! Currently, 80% of Massachusetts Towns & Cities are designated Green Communities and I’m glad we’re a part of that effort.

But we can do more. I would like to see these additional actions:

1. Make efforts to move new construction away from oil & gas heat to electric heat pumps.
2. Change by-laws for new construction to require 240v EV outlets in garages.
3. Give preference to multi unit housing projects that use geothermal heating and cooling grid systems.
4. Join the 17 cities & towns of MassEnergize, a non-profit building community involvement in climate friendly individual actions. By joining MassEnergize, we would become part of the 5% of Mass communities committed to doing more and building community involvement.

Thank you for hearing my comments encouraging Franklin to take additional steps in climate action. Please consider joining our next 350 Mass Meeting

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