Palermo residents will have an opportunity to join others on the path of sustainability and carbon reduction in March at town meeting. An article backed by Carbon Cashback 4 ME is on our town meeting warrant that has been introduced by Maine citizens in dozens of Maine municipalities intending to show support for federal legislation that will reduce carbon pollution –– a major cause of climate change.

The Resolution to Take Action on Climate Pollution “call(s) upon our State and Federal elected representatives to enact legislation that will protect Maine from the costs and environmental risks of continued climate inaction.” This article is a communication tool to instigate action. It communicates that the residents of Palermo favor a fee-and-dividend approach that charges fossil fuel producers for their carbon pollution and rebates the money collected to all residents on an equal basis.

Enacting a Carbon Cash-Back program decreases long-term fossil-fuel dependence, aids in the economic transition to renewable energy, and keeps local energy dollars in Maine’s economy. Carbon Cash-back has been championed by U.S. economists (for example in a Jan. 17, 2019, opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal) as the most effective and fair way to deliver rapid reductions in harmful carbon emissions at the scale required for our safety and to support our environment.

Carbon Cash-Back is a proposed climate solution that would place a fee on fossil fuel production and imports at their source (mine, refinery, pipeline, or port of entry). Money collected from this fee would be returned to every citizen equally as a dividend. to put a price on carbon pollution from fossil fuels and return funds from collected fees to all U.S. households monthly, offsetting the potential increase in price. As stated in the warrant article, voting for it will spark “our representatives to lead in this critical moment for the health and well-being of our citizens and for the protection of Maine’s natural resources upon which we all rely.” More information is provided on the town of Palermo website and at the Town Office.

There are many attitudes people can adopt on the issue of climate change. We might think:

• Earth belongs to humanity –– the superior species –– and its resources are at our disposal.

• Global warming is part of a natural cycle, not caused or impacted by humans.

• Global warming may be caused mostly by humans, but there is nothing we can do about it.

• Global warming is real and rapid, and we can take action now in order to reverse the damage.

To what degree do people understand that global warming is happening, human-caused, and a serious risk for human societies and natural ecosystems? According to a study issued in December 2020 by the Yale Program on Climate Change, Americans who think global warming is happening outnumber those who think it is not by a ratio of more than five to one (72% to 13%). More than half of Americans (58%) understand that evidence indicates global warming is mostly human-caused, although three in 10 think global warming is due mostly to natural changes in the environment. The study also states that one in four Americans are “very worried,” however, 41% feel helpless about creating change. But experts say we can make a difference, if we act now.

Pamela McKenney lives in Palermo. She works as a writer and an educator and is a student of nature and an advocate for the environment.