Vineyards

“Fueled a movement” – The Martha’s Vineyard Times

Vineyard Haven resident Ben Robinson, Lead Introducer for the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Climate Action Task Force (CATF), was recognized by the Clinton Foundation in conjunction with Island Innovation for his efforts in planning and climate change resilience adaptation.

Robinson is an elected member of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and a member of the Tisbury Planning Board in addition to his environmental work.

Robinson’s role in conceiving and organizing CATF earned him a top five spot out of 63 nominees, an impressive feat with the Island Innovation Awards recognizing the efforts of island communities globally.

Those who nominated Robinson for consideration, told Island Innovation that he “fueled a ‘movement’…His vision, energy, tenacity and intelligence attracted hundreds of volunteers and supporters across the country. island, actively lobbying to adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Martha’s Vineyard Commission chairwoman Joan Malkin was among those who nominated Robinson.

“Under Ben’s leadership and leadership, the island now has a vision for the future with achievable goals, paid staff, an education program, a funded proposal to develop concrete, island-specific resilience plans. island and multiple ongoing adaptation projects. He constantly reminds us that we cannot back down at any time and that every step forward is an opportunity,” Malkin wrote in the application.

Robinson is credited with playing a crucial role in moving the island towards a sustainable and successful future. His advocacy of conservation efforts and his ongoing work on issues with local businesses – from Eversource and the Steamship Authority (SSA) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Army Corps of Engineers – have been met with lots of praise.

Despite the endless praise, Robinson keeps her eyes fixed on the long road ahead, struggling to navigate the realities of climate change. “Humbled” by the nomination and grateful for the recognition, Robinson was quick to point out that he is not alone in the effort.

“In many ways, it seems a bit early, to hand out awards and congratulate each other,” he said. “We have been working on it for two or three years… And there is still a lot to do. A big part of that job, Robinson said, is to reduce the impact. “It’s not just about shifting things to electricity and away from fossil fuels,” he continued, “it’s actually about reducing our energy and our use of materials.”

“We didn’t actually replace the use of fossil fuels, we just added a way to meet new demand through renewable energy.” This demand, Robinson explained, “is filled with fossil fuels, so the problem just keeps getting worse.” A real solution? Reduce and decrease.

But Robinson isn’t naive – getting people to drastically reduce their footprint, while great in theory, fails in execution when they realize these changes can impact the lifestyles they’ve become. accustomed. This, he said, “kind of cuts contrary to the American way; growth for growth’s sake, progress is only progress if we grow.

“This is a luxury economy and we welcome people who are living well beyond their fair share,” Robinson said. “I think that’s something we need to start recognizing…what our economy looks like if we don’t just respond to this overuse of materials and resources,” through second homes and expensive vacation.

Citing the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Robinson explained that to avoid reaching a dreaded tipping point – when climate change is no longer under our control – the American means should “reduce its material and energy resources”. used by more than half.

The problem is “not just climate change,” Robinson said at a recent meeting of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, where he presented an update from the CATF, “but humanity’s impact on the planet [has] exert incredible pressure on the ecological world around us. Mitigating this impact, he said, involves active community participation in the overall goal of reducing and, where possible, replacing diesel and fossil energy sources with wind and solar.

One of the CATF projects underway is a modernization of the Eversource network, which aims to create “a reliable electricity supply”, in part by adding increase and replace submarine cables meet the needs of the island by increasing electrical capacity.

When asked if he was hopeful about the future of the island’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, he noted his aversion to the word ‘hope’ – ‘this is not a very active verb,” ​​he said, “To hope for something, you’re kind to take it with your own hands.

In Robinson, the direction in which the Island is heading, is in the hands of the people. “There are a lot of little individual things that we can do that would start to add up,” he said, like reducing meat consumption, “considering not buying something that you can borrow from someone one” and choose to take public transport. The most important thing though, he said, is to support the policy. Real change, Robinson said, “must happen systemically…Individuals have a role, but their role is second only to that of government policy at the industry level. Support these government policies that will help us lead the whole of society, not just the individual.

“It really comes down to mindfulness,” he said, “and trying to be part of the solution.”