From its beginnings, Rhode Island has been distinguished by its support for freedom of conscience and action. Rhode Island’s rebellious, authority-defying nature was demonstrated by the burnings of the British revenue cutters ‘Liberty’ and ‘Gaspee’ prior to the Revolution; by its early declaration of independence from Great Britain in May 1776; by its refusal to participate actively in the War of 1812; and by Dorr’s Rebellion of 1842, which protested property requirements for voting. Rhode Island, smallest of the 50 states, is densely populated and highly industrialized.
Though small, Rhode Island has three distinct life zones: sandplain lowlands, rising hills, and highlands. Common trees are the tulip tree, pin and post oaks, and red cedar. Cattails are abundant in marsh areas, and 40 types of fern and 30 species of orchid are indigenous to the state. The small whorled pogonia is threatened, and sandplain gerardia is endangered.
Urbanization and industrialization have taken their toll of native animals. 15 Rhode Island animal species are listed as threatened or endangered, including the bald eagle, American burying beetle, finback and humpback whale, and four species of sea turtle.
Rhode Island has taken giant leaps in reducing global warming pollution and to position the state as a leader in the rapidly growing green economy.
The state has already taken many steps to reduce carbon footprint. It is committed to purchasing at least 20% of all municipal energy from clean, renewable sources. By addressing climate change in a meaningful way, the state is hoping to benefit with improved air quality and public health, creating new jobs with a green-collar economy. Other initiatives include: commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions; joining the U.S. Green Building’s Council, that oversees the LEED accreditation program; taking adequate climate protection measures; creating environmental solutions; developing building codes to determine the energy efficiency of houses and commercial buildings; developing and implementing waste reduction and recycling programs; encouraging creative public engagement in Green Design; continuing to expand parks and community gardens; addressing storm water management; establishing and funding annual tree-planting goal; increasing bike infrastructure; increasing public transit use and carpooling; reducing emissions from state vehicles; piloting a composting program; increasing access and expanding opportunities for recycling; conserving water through technological innovation and efficiency; and supporting green job training.