Voters are leading. The effort to have town meetings across the Cape consider the declaration of a climate emergency is a great example of leadership coming from citizens. It is encouraging that there is a broad understanding of the threat posed by climate change among the residents of Cape Cod. It is equally encouraging that voters are no longer satisfied waiting for government to act. These citizen-based initiative petitions are just the latest example of the populace taking the initiative and forcing government to confront reality and act.

I have argued in the past that local government stands in contrast to the federal government’s inability to function. Part of what makes local government work is its responsiveness to the needs and wants of the community. When local government is slow to act, citizens can organize and make change happen fairly quickly. While we all owe a debt of gratitude to the organizers of the petition articles, they can only take things so far. It is up to the rest of us to show up and vote yes.

Spring is town meeting time and most towns have open town meetings, meaning that any voter can show up, speak and vote. If you care about bringing focus to efforts to address the local impacts of climate change you need to show up to town meeting. It will cost you an evening, maybe two, but the good you will do for your town, the Cape and beyond will last a long time.