My team and I had a very eventful day in Greenfield this past Saturday. While staying in Montague for a few days this past week, we decided to spend a day checking out Greenfield. We had a table at the farmer’s market where we got kids to make flowers to decorate our ugly pipeline prop and spoke with shoppers about the pipeline. We also joined in the bike parade and got to meet some really enthusiastic and concerned people from the area.
Later on, we went to the Stone Soup Café at All Souls Church where we met people with valuable stories and different opinions on the pipeline. I appreciated learning from the various perspectives and enjoyed the inclusive conversations they encouraged at the café. One man who I spoke with made a comment that there will never be a perfectly ideal way for us to get our energy without affecting someone. I believe this needs to be discussed more when we go around opposing projects like the Kinder Morgan Tennessee Gas Pipeline.
This issue crosses my mind frequently as I come across concerned residents who are hearing that the pipeline is proposed to come through their hometown for the first time. As I see the worry overcome their face, I wonder what they would think if Kinder Morgan was proposing to build a solar array, rather than a natural gas pipeline. Would they consider this progress or would it be just as frustrating to them as the pipeline is?
For me, I am involved in this movement to stop the pipeline because I care about the lifestyles and ecosystems that would be greatly impacted by this pipeline but also because I want to prevent companies like Kinder Morgan from being allowed to lead us in such a direction that it prevents us from making the energy progress we must make. This pipeline would not be a temporary solution to New England’s energy capacity issue. This pipeline would be permanent. We would rely on this pipeline for easily another 50 years. As someone who is greatly concerned about climate change, I fear that by then, it will be far too late to be considering alternative energy. We cannot keep building fossil fuel infrastructure if we ever want to become as self-sustaining as countries like Germany and the Netherlands.
People working to make clean energy, efficiency, and conservation possible need to learn the ways to influence the behavior of society. That is what it will take to flip the switch off in homeowner’s unoccupied rooms and encourage stores with big parking lots to install solar panels to cover the parking spots. Technology is no longer the factor holding us back from progress; the factor now holding us back is our mindset. I believe that becoming more optimistic and willing to adapt would be the catapult for building the clean energy infrastructure that there is such potential for.
The man I met at lunch had a very good point. The truth is that yes, someone will be negatively affected by energy infrastructure no matter what. However, as my teammate Nicholas said, “we can be smart about this and strategically go forth in the process of switching over to clean energy with people’s lives at mind rather than a company’s profits.” I think the issue at hand is larger than this pipeline and larger than climate change. It is the social barrier to accepting change. Change is never perfect and the transition is not smooth but we’ve got to work with what we have, try different methods, seek better options, and learn to become more conscientious for the sake of a safer and healthier future for humanity.