When I was recently visiting my mother-in-law in Anacortes, Washington she took my wife and I to a meeting of the local chapter of Transition, an international grass roots movement responding to climate change.
First, an employee of a local not-for-profit Sustainable Connections spoke briefly about home energy efficiency audits that they organise.
Then there was an interesting talk from a local climate change researcher, Roger Fuller, that focussed on the potential impact of climate change on surrounding Skagit County. It is somewhat unique because much the water flowing through the county comes from glacial snow melt in the nearby Cascade mountains. Increased temperatures will mean a greater rain/snow ratio, and greater river flow in the winter and less in the spring. This could have significant effects on the frequency of extreme flooding events.
I think these local initiatives are particularly important beyond the immediate concrete [but modest] energy savings and reduced CO2 emissions that they produce. Such initiatives provide models for wider more ambitious programs and show politicians and policy makers that some people are concerned about climate change and willing to make life style changes.
Besides the significant benefit of addressing climate change this initiative has the other benefit of building community in the face of rapidly declining social capital.
I also picked up a copy of the excellent free booklet Climate Change: Evidence, Impacts, and Choices, produced by the National Research Council for the general public.
Anacortes is one of 50 communities [with a population between 5,000 and 250,000] in the USA that are competing for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. Each community tries to cut its energy consumption by as much as possible in 2015.