Deerfield climate change forum meant to give residents info, options

  • Flames burn up tree trunks as firefighters work at building a containment line at a wildfire near Bodalla, Australia on Jan. 12. The wildfires, strengthened by a prolonged drought, have killed at least 28 people and 500 million animals. AP FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Saturday, February 08, 2020

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Residents are invited and encouraged to attend a Feb. 29 forum aimed at motivating them to take action to combat climate change.

“Climate Resiliency: Deerfield 2030” is scheduled to consist of a variety of workshops at Frontier Regional School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The forum will be free and open to the public, and a free lunch will be provided.

The town is working with Christopher Curtis, a Deerfield resident and consultant with Conservation Works, to organize the event. Curtis said some of the workshops will run concurrently and he has lined up 22 or 23 speakers, including someone from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, stationed at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“We want to reach out to the public and really engage people in this effort,” Curtis said, describing climate change as “an existential crisis for the globe.”

“It’s very real and it’s happening now,” he added. “It’s not something that’s off in the far future. It’s happening now.”

The workshops include “Homeowner Strategies for Reducing Carbon Footprint,” “Forestland Management and Wildlife Impacts in a Changing Climate,” “Moving Toward Net Zero or Zero Energy Buildings” and “Climate Resiliency for Farmers.” Curtis explained climate resiliency as avenues the planet’s population can take to endure the stresses of climate change and the problems it creates, such as an increase in severe storms and flooding. He said Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 resulted in a vicious flood in Deerfield.

At a Jan. 21 meeting, Select Board Chairman Trevor McDaniel and member Carolyn Shores Ness urged their fellow residents to attend.

“I’ve been amazed at how much climate change has really come into the forefront and how strongly we need to pay attention, even if you just look at what’s going on in Australia right now,” McDaniel said, referring to the devastating wildfires, strengthened by a prolonged drought, that have killed at least 28 people and 500 million animals. “We’ve got California fires, we’ve got all kinds of things going on.”

“It’s expensive to be (climate) resilient but if you don’t do anything, it’s going to cost more money,” Ness added. “So, we’re trying to be thoughtful and do as much as possible to mitigate impacts and make sure that … this continues to be a desirable place to live.”

Curtis explained the forum is being funded by a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Residents are asked to register in advance by calling the Deerfield Select Board Office at 413-665-1400, ext. 111, or by sending an email to patk@town.deerfield.ma.us. The town needs an accurate tally for guests to properly prepare the free lunch provided.