This month’s devastating hurricanes got Cynthia Gibb thinking.
The 1981 Staples High School graduate — a noted actress (“Fame,” “Search for Tomorrow”), now a vocal coach back in her hometown — is concerned about the worldwide impact of climate change.
But she’s a firm believer in the adage “think globally, act locally.” She writes:
America has just experienced 2 historic storms back-to-back, and I am feeling frustratingly helpless. Climate change is here.
I have known this was coming for a long time. I learned about global warming back in the mid-80’s when I joined a group called Earth Communications Office, a Hollywood group with the mission of educating Americans about the changes in our climate.
Everything I learned back then has unfortunately been coming to fruition. That means that still ahead are horrific droughts, fires, floods, the extinction of many animals and insect species, the movement of our tree line north (affecting farming and quality of life for all who live in the south) — among other catastrophic events.
Last spring, at the Staples High School science awards ceremony, a scientist told the audience that we could expect to see Miami underwater in the foreseeable future. I wonder if he knew it would happen so soon?
I get overwhelmed by this knowledge. Climate change deniers sit in the White House, and run the EPA. Trump has said he will pull us from the Paris agreement. Pruitt wants to roll back environmental laws. It’s terrifying and infuriating.
Yet one thing that gives me hope is that there are forward-thinking folks, making a difference. Some of them are right here in Westport.
Our RTM recently passed the Net Zero in 2050 Initiative. We’ve joined the governors of Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington in pledging to exceed the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. In fact, the northeastern states have already reduced their carbon emissions by 37% since 2008.
Earthplace has screened the documentary “Idle Threat.” These are great starts.
But the solution has to come from citizens, as well as government.
I’ve been asking myself, “What can I do?” Cash donations to flood victims won’t stop future disasters.
In his new book Climate of Hope, Michael Bloomberg encourages everyone to do their part. I have finally figured out what mine is: I am making a conscious choice to obey Connecticut’s Do Not Idle Law.
I recently learned it is illegal for all vehicles — including buses, trucks and passenger vehicles — to idle for more than 3 minutes in our state. After just 10 seconds of idling, we waste more fuel than stopping and restarting our cars. Even in cold weather, engines need only 30 seconds to warm up.
So I no longer idle in the school pick-up line, or the Starbucks or bank drive-through. If I want to continue a phone call or listen to the radio, I turn off my engine and turn on my battery.
If it’s hot, I roll the windows down. If it’s cold, I leave them up! It’s really easy and simple, now that I’m in the habit — like remembering to bring my reusable bag to the grocery store!
I feel better now that I am doing my part and setting an example for my kids that we can change our behavior, even if it’s inconvenient. It’s a small gesture, I know. But if 26,000 of us do it in Westport, we can set an example to the rest of the nation — where every day we waste 17 million gallons of fuel due to idling.
This is also important for children in our town, who can suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases due to car emissions.
This is a call to action, fellow Westporters! I invite anyone reading this to join me in turning off your engines whenever you can. After all, there is only one ozone layer.
And we all share the same air.
(Click here to sign Westport’s no-idle pledge.)