2018-04-13 / Letters

Embrace sustainability plan

To the editor:

It was disheartening to read two letters in the Sentry critical of South Portland’s efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and create renewable energy forms to improve our air, soil and water quality. There is heightened awareness of the city’s leadership in this area. A co-worker of mine who lives in a neighboring town commented on the solar panel project, stating South Portland is way ahead of her community. I get the impression that the letter writers feel that what we do as individuals and as a community won’t matter because climate change is too big and expensive to tackle. However, we learned that the industrial age over time polluted our environment and necessitated costly chemical cleanups. We have come a long way in the last 50 or so years in realizing that our health, well-being and economy depend on a clean environment. We will never return to the days when we choked from the fumes of passing cars while standing at the bus stop thanks to improvements in internal combustion engines, and now electric power.

Action from ordinary residents prompted many improvements we now take for granted. Sometimes bold leadership is not appreciated in the time it occurs. Off topic, I remember a young woman, Kathy McInnis, who used a wheelchair and needed help climbing stairs at school. Her difficulties led her to advocate for wheelchair accessible buildings and public transportation. She was rebuffed by some elected officials in South Portland at the time but went on to help author the Americans with Disabilities Act. In my first full time job in an office in the early 1970s, smoking was common. A woman forced to work in a tiny room with two smokers demanded something be done and the employer installed an air exchange system. Both of these individuals were blessed with foresight.

I am proud that South Portland has a sustainability office to keep the focus on improving our beautiful small city and minimizing the expected damage to our coastline from rising sea levels. Yes, costs are involved but complacency will cost more. In the near future I believe we will look back with consternation that we used expensive chemical fertilizers, herbicides and disposable plastics bags.

Margaret Gilman South Portland

Return to top