Tag Archives: climate champion

Powering up Climate Action

Since moving to the Connecticut River Valley in 1981, Mass Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton and Northampton has helped grow our dedication to the environment.

We’ve hiked Arcadia’s trails, canoed the marsh, sent our kids to summer camp, volunteered, and donated money. Perhaps most important, Arcadia has been playing a major role in our climate change advocacy, education, and action.

We view climate change as an existential threat to the planet. The severe disruption to the environment has us freaking out and desperate for action.

We are Morey Phippen and Brian Adams, and we’re fighting for climate justice.

Morey Phippen and Brian Adams, Climate Champions.

Married 40 years this summer and retired from our jobs as a family planning counselor and community college professor, we have channeled much of our time and energy into fighting for our planet at a local level. What we have been able to accomplish we credit to our parents, who left us an inheritance when they passed that has provided for us, our children, and the thrilling opportunity to contribute to charitable causes.

We decided to use some of this money to help nonprofits install photovoltaics (or solar panels).  Given the up-front costs that a solar system demands, we knew that nonprofits often have difficulty coming up with those financial resources. Solar energy’s cost has also dropped significantly, making it an affordable alternative to fossil fuel powered energy.

Our plan was to install solar panels at no cost to organizations, and negotiate a six-year purchase power agreement with them at a much-reduced electric rate. After six years we’d donate the systems in their entirety to the organizations.

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary was one of the first organizations we approached. With over 700 acres of forest, meadows, grasslands, marsh, and wetlands, their mission to protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and wildlife was one we were totally committed to. It would be hard to find a better fit for our project!

In October 2017, we “flipped the switch” on a 5.6 kW photovoltaic system at the sanctuary.

Like other solar panels, it generates clean, renewable electricity from sunlight, about 8,000 kilowatt hours per year. But unlike other arrays, this panel uses a tracker that follows the sun across the sky. It adjusts to the height of the sun above the horizon as it changes during the day and throughout the seasons, which makes it a terrific teaching tool for the thousands of visitors who seek solace at Arcadia’s sanctuary every year.

To date we’ve installed over 550 kilowatts of solar at 34 locations including Arcadia, our local food pantries, homeless shelters, farms, environmental organizations, and social service agencies.  We’re hoping for a dozen more installations this year.

We are grateful to have such a wonderful sanctuary such a short distance from where we live, and to have the resources to help Arcadia and Mass Audubon in their quest to be carbon neutral and practice the urgent climate solutions that our planet needs.

Morey Phippen and Brian Adams, Mass Audubon Members, Donors, and Volunteers

My past is my prologue

The first time I saw myself as a scientist was at a very young age, inspired by scouting. My two favorite merit badges were Nature and Environmental Science – but earning them took effort and time. I had to pick three different environments and observe patterns in them.

I vividly remember taking my bike out every day to our local salt marsh, each time with a growing curiosity. What would I hear? What new discovery would I make? Scouting taught me that if I take the time to look in nature, I will certainly discover something new.

Tom Eid, Climate Champion.

My childhood experiences come full circle.

While my scouting days are over, the lessons I’ve learned still ring true today: that as a community, we must look to the patterns in nature to understand what is happening to it.

Right now, that means grasping how nature is changing in order to adapt to our changing climate.

I’m Tom Eid and I’m a Climate Champion.

I act on climate by helping increase our collective, scientific understanding of how nature fares in the face of rising seas, warming temperatures, and shifting seasons through community science.

Community science is public participation in scientific research and decision making. It has provided me opportunities to collaborate with experts and help protect the environment. It is science by people to benefit nature.

What I did as a scout was science. The activities I completed were part of the practice of phenological monitoring: the observation of long-term patterns in wildlife behavior to understand nature and its adaptation to environmental threats. Many years later, I still use phenological monitoring to better comprehend how wildlife behavior is affected by the threat of climate change.

A return to the salt marsh

From July through September 2020, I worked with Mass Audubon on its Coastal Salt Marsh Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment project.

There was a beautiful nostalgia in the field at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary that reminded me of my time scouting. What struck me is that the smell of a salt marsh is the same – no matter where you go or how many years have passed. There’ll always the gentle bending and bowing of salt marsh grasses as the wind blows through. The feeling of the soft, cushion-like peat underneath me. The calls of birds whistling through the air matched with the slight touch of sea salt in the marsh breeze.

While my monitoring as a scout merited me with a badge, these assessments gave me a pathway for climate action. I helped observe nature’s cues, noting shifts in things like where certain marsh plants grow, to inform adaptation strategies that preserve and enhance this critical habitat for people and wildlife. 

The scientist in you

Climate change is our reality: it affects us here and now. We are all responsible for making a difference.

What can you do to act on climate change to ensure a sustainable future for the world around us? Get outside and into nature! Community science can be that opportunity to engage, here’s how to start:

  1. Pursue your passion. What do you love about the environment?
  2. Leverage your skills: What do you bring to the table? How can you engage and educate others about new scientific findings?
  3. Embrace your sector: What type of work do you want to do? Visit Mass Audubon’s website for some ideas.

Together, lets commit to protecting nature. Let’s learn from nature’s patterns and cues, teach each other, and enable current and future generations to act on climate through science.

– Tom Eid, Mass Audubon Community Science Volunteer