Mason activist Douglas Whitbeck rings bell to mark the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference

  • Douglas Whitbeck of Mason rang the bell on the old stone schoolhouse in Mason to mark a call to action at the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Douglas Whitbeck of Mason rings the bell on the old stone schoolhouse in Mason, to mark a call to action at the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow Scotland, which began Oct. 31. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Douglas Whitbeck of Mason rings the bell on the old stone schoolhouse in Mason, to mark a call to action at the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow Scotland, which began Oct. 31 and will run through Nov. 12. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/2/2021 3:14:12 PM

Douglas Whitbeck of Mason made the somewhat perilous climb onto the roof of the historic Mason schoolhouse on Saturday to sound the alarm – a call to action on the issue of climate change.

Saturday marked the beginning of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, being held in Glasgow, Scotland, through Nov. 12.

Several churches in the United Kingdom – and in solidarity, the United States – arranged to ring their bells to signal the start of the conference to bring awareness to the issue. Since bells historically are used to signal emergencies like floods and fires, as well as a call to prayer, it seemed appropriate, Whitbeck said.

Whitbeck and his wife, Gwen Whitbeck, are active climate advocates, he said. Having met and bonded over water source protection, they became more involved with general climate issues while protesting the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline spur anticipated to run through Mason in 2014.

When Whitbeck climbed onto the roof of the schoolhouse to ring the bell Saturday, he said he was aware it was a mostly symbolic gesture – nestled out of the way on Brookline Road, there might have only been a few neighbors who even heard it toll, he said.

“I just said, ‘I’m going to do it. If no one hears it but me, so be it,’” Whitbeck said. “It’s important. We’re all wrapped up in our own lives – paying the mortgage, worrying about the kid’s grades – but we’re all being impacted by climate change, right now. And if we don’t act now, it’s only going to get worse.”

Whitbeck said he’s fighting for future generations.

“I’m 77. It’s not going to affect me that much. It’s going to affect the current young generation, and their children,” Whitbeck said.

Consciousness around the issue has grown, Whitbeck said. But in order to be able to actually make change, it will mean more than individual people switching to LED bulbs, recycling or buying a hybrid car – though every bit helps, he said.

“If we’re going to make real change, we will need the cooperation of the government – and I know that’s not always a popular word, ‘government.’ What I would like to see is people expressing to their representatives, their senators, governor and president, the need for urgency in their actions. Yes, the climate has always had warming and cooling cycles, but the threat we're facing now is from the high temperatures and a rate of warming that will make it hard for species to adapt – humans included.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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