After this year of unmitigated stress, fear and grief, we are ripe for a new beginning, for hope and positivity. I hereby propose that each of us make the mother of all New Year’s resolutions — save the planet!

I’m serious. If we humans do not stop emitting greenhouse gases the extreme impacts of global warming will become irreversible. We have a strict 30-year time frame to act, starting today. We can do it if we act now. President-elect Joe Biden is poised to make climate action a national priority. The Island community, like the rest of the industrialized world, has an obligation to stop burning fossil fuels and to embrace renewable energy.

There are two main things we can each do to make it happen: make informed decisions and act on them. If you need a new car, buy electric. When you need a new heating system, install a heat pump or solar panels. If your hot water heater gives out, install a hybrid electric one. You will save money and help preserve a livable planet.

In 2019 the Martha’s Vineyard Commission established a climate action task force to address not only energy issues but also climate adaptation — the impacts to the Island’s natural and built environments, food security, our human health and coming challenges to the local economy. Also in 2019, the commission adopted an ambitious climate change policy that mandates vast reductions in the use of fossil fuels.

In December 2020 I was hired as the commission’s first climate change planner. Local nonprofits, town energy and climate committees and Island youth are actively addressing climate issues. It is time for every single one of us to step up, to embrace renewable energy and to support local climate adaptation initiatives.

Swedish teenager and climate activist Greta Thunberg explains: “Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that Homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop emissions of greenhouse gases. And either we do that or we don’t . . . either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control — or we don’t. Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t.”

We have until the year 2050 to stop emitting more greenhouse gases than the earth can absorb. We have to act now. Let’s each resolve to make climate action a 2021 Vineyard priority.

Liz Durkee

Oak Bluffs