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Farmer tackling climate change

By Jon Winkler

j w i n k l e r @ n a s h o b a v a l leyvoice. com

Pepperell » Temperatures around the country reached record highs this past summer, with wildfires raging in the west and droughts in the east. It’s all more evidence of the planet’s climate changing at a dangerous rate. Now a member of the Pepperell Select Board is looking to do something about it.

During the board’s meeting on Nov. 9, Selectman Anthony Beattie proposed the establishment of a town Climate Change Council. Town Administrator Andrew MacLean said he met with Be-

Climate » 8A

pepperell farmer and selectman anthony Beattie, owner of robinwood Farm, is concerned about climate change. here he tends to two of his three red Jersey/holstein cows, Margie, left (the mom), and Mabel. cattle do produce methane, but less when they are grazing on grass than if they are factory-farmed.

Julia Malakie / lowell sun


attie on Nov. 20 to create a framework for how the council will operate. The council is set to be discussed by the Select Board further this week.

Consisting of seven members, the council would advise the Select Board on local environmental issues and take actions that would help Massachusetts reach its goal of net- zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Some of these actions include investigating the town’s ability to sequester carbon or reducing the town’s use of fossil- based energy.

Speaking over the phone on Nov. 16, Beattie said he’s been reaching out to local residents with interests in climate change to see if they’re interested in joining the council. Beattie’s interest in establishing the council doesn’t just come from his passion for science, but also his experience struggling with hay farming in unstable weather conditions.

Beattie used to be able to harvest and bale hay while waiting out periods of excessive rain, but previous years have seen excessive days of rain and this past year saw a long drought.

“A lot of my farming life involved learning and assessing risk,” he said. “ I think the current evidence is great enough to cause alarm and I’m frustrated that people don’t take this as seriously as it needs to be taken. You can see the change in temperature, which is tough on farmers. I’ve talked to them and they have problems with high moisture periods, plus pests that aren’t killed off in the warmer winters.”

Though reducing an entire town’s carbon emissions seems like a big task, there are some local efforts to undertake.

Jason Veysey, a senior scientist with the Stockholm Environment Institute, stated that reduction of carbon and greenhouse gases is both “difficult” and “ very costly.”

He did note some starting points that could be done, including finding major sources of emissions stemming from transportation methods and large buildings, finding ways of storing energy and looking for low- carbon heating sources.

“ There are plenty of different practices people can take individually, but any big- budget methods require government action informed by local action and public interest,” Veysey said. “I think we should be looking for representation from town businesses, budgeting experts, liaisons with land trusts and maybe someone who would have a conservative vote so responses can be measured.”

Beattie wants both young and old residents with a wide variety of experiences to join the council. While he has been contacting people in his circle about the council, Beattie plans to publicly advertise the council’s establishment and openness for members.

Quinton Cutler, a member of the Pepperell Finance Committee, expressed support for the council and plans to participate in meetings if the council goes forward.

“Anyone actually interested, regardless of age, should join,” Cutler added. “ This can’t just be directions for the town, we need to lead the community.”

Pepperell farmer and Selectman Anthony beattie in a field of winter rye, which is good for carbon sequestration.


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