VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO 03/30/22
By Brave Little State
It’s a scary thought, to be sure. Brave Little State considers a few apocalyptic scenarios, including some that have already begun. And: Just how neighborly would we be, really, if the world were ending?
Note: Our show is made for the ear. We highly recommend listening to the audio above! But we provide a written version of our episode below.
It’s hard not to see the similarities between Vermont and the Arctic. They’re both pretty isolated, with a small population and, you know, winter. Lot’s of winter.
“There’s only so much wood fuel you can burn to keep yourself warm,” says Dr. Michael Shank. He teaches at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and lives in Montpelier.
When Michael was looking for his next home, he factored in climate refuge. Since moving here, he has seen some trends that worry him that Vermont may not be so safe after all.
“I do think we’ll see more storms,” he says. “I mean, we’re seeing heavier rains, more flooding, more of this melt, freeze, melt, freeze, melt, freeze in winter, which creates icier conditions, more dangerous conditions, more salt budgets for towns to clear the roads.”
And, he adds, “we’ll see our infrastructure hit harder and harder by increasingly ferocious storms. And so the roads and bridges, repairing those, keeping those up to date is going to be critical.”
To Michael’s point, with the severe uptick in extreme weather, another major concern is surviving Vermont’s coldest months. Not everyone has a wood stove and solar panels.
Our reliance on gas and oil imports puts us in a difficult position. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 60% of Vermont households heat with petroleum products.
“How do we be reliant only on the energy we can provide here in the state?” Michael asks. “Because imagine these oil and gas pipelines getting disrupted by conflict or war in the end times, or in a climate change scenario.”