Home Commentary Montpelier Full of Hot Air About Climate

Montpelier Full of Hot Air About Climate

By Kristian Connolly

The November ballot will feature Montpelier residents and elected officials, many supported for their message of caring about the climate, environment, and your health. Montpelier, you’ve been had. Perhaps willingly. Your continued support and normalization of what Should. Not. Be. Normal. is killing the planet and all life on it. 

Hold on, I need to close windows because the street sweeper, defended and celebrated by many on FPF (including the “green” city), is spewing its visible exhaust, kicking up a dust and debris storm, and operating at airport-level decibels — with a gaslighting “Help Keep Montpelier Clean” decal on its side.

Of course, to protect our health, our windows are often closed because various neighbors in every direction have been hastening the demise of all life on Earth and threatening our present well-being with ruinous machinery — and obliterating quiet, private, and poison-free enjoyment of spaces for any living being unfortunate enough to exist nearby. 

Everywhere, exhaust-belching, fuel-burning, silence-destroying diggers, earth movers, trucks, lifts, pavers, mowers, trimmers, and power tools literally devastate the ecosystem, annihilating and poisoning yards, hillsides, fresh water sources, vegetation, wildlife, and clean air. Tons of destructive concrete (a global emissions leader). Layers of plastics, treated woods and metals, chemicals, foams, glass, and paint. All in the name of “renovation” and “more space” (or is it vanity, greed, leisure, laziness, and culturally defined “success”?). All for a place to hold stuff. Or a multi-unit housing structure. Or an Airbnb. Or an area to “entertain.” Or a denatured yard. Or all of that on the same square of earth.

Frequently this happens where “We believe…” signs often say climate change and/or science is real. Here’s what I believe: Nothing on your sign matters if you are helping to destroy our collective home with your me-first, me-only, there-are-no-consequences behaviors. 

Then there’s the city. Aside from street sweepers:

  •  A broken water main brings dump trucks, diggers, and some kind of doomsday machine. Then the street sweeper, more trucks, and asphalt to mask the problem — until next week, when it happens again, and residents will again be encouraged to boil their already-chemically-treated, former-landfill-leachate water before ingesting it. Just like Indigenous peoples used to do before Euro-American colonizers imposed their “superior,” “civilized,” and planet-destroying ways of being on the entire world. 
  • A slow-moving, foul-smelling truck — trailed by someone literally blow-torching the road — is passing. Garbage, package, food, and fuel delivery trucks are not pleased. Even more annoyed are people in cars, pickups, SUVs, and motorcycles (and e-bikes) who insist that their vehicles (both gas and electric cause devastating environmental and human damage) are the only way to get there from here.
  •  Re-paving or “fog sealing” roads, more concrete for sidewalks, handling its own property “landscaping,” etc. Of course, another reason we close our windows is that the heat coming off all the pavement — and driveways, patios, buildings, rooftops, vehicles, land free of obliterated tree canopies and greenery, etc. — makes the air much warmer than it would be otherwise.
All this, and much more — including the rest of the year, with more (and bigger) leaf blowers, leaves in plastic bags, street and sidewalk plows, snowblowers, furnaces, etc. — has been our Montpelier experience. But these are your neighbors, and your city, too. And this is you. 

The above happens, without remorse, across this city, state, continent, and planet many times over every day. I haven’t even mentioned what goes into making and distributing all the products I’ve described, or what happens when they no longer work or are wanted. Or the food (and poisons called “food”) system. Or the clothing industry. Or communication, information, and entertainment technologies. Or the desire for more and more “stuff.” 

We’re offered “solutions” to problems that not only exist in direct connection with the above, but will not matter if there is no “here” here in which those problems can exist. We’re told the “solutions” involve simply doing “More!” More development, more services, more entertainment, more people, more infrastructure, more businesses, more products, more “progress.” More happening daily, everywhere. People offering these “solutions” operate from the ill-fated perspective that humans should dominate, control, and exhaust nature for their own needs, pleasure, and ease of life. That it is a natural right, and responsibility, for humans to exploit and abuse the planet however they wish. How’s that working out? 

Some people have had the forum in which to stand up, but have done nothing. They have, just like many others who have done nothing in their daily lives, helped create this existential threat we all live with. Those people haven’t fought for the present and future health of the planet, and the present and future health of all living beings. And they won’t, because “We, the people” won’t push everyone there, or because they (or you) are too weak or scared (or wily or comfortable or self-serving) to actually lead us.

Some people openly say — or imply with their lifestyle — that these are not issues to worry about in any meaningful way. 

All of them tell the truth not with words, but with individual behaviors. None of them accept the responsibility we all hold, and should share. None of them can conceive of an anti-growth, anti-capitalism, anti-consumerism, anti-plastic, anti-machine, and pro-human-and-nature-powered hyper-local future — which may be the only way to save the planet and every organism and being that would like to live on it.

Why can’t they? Why can’t you?

Kristian Connolly, his partner, their daughter, and cat moved to central Vermont in 2014. They now rent in Montpelier, where they thought they’d be for one year, at most. That was three long years ago.