We made it through Thanksgiving and now we're sailing into Christmas (yes I still call it Christmas). It's a great time of year. Even though it gets dark early and weather stinks people are in an upbeat and festive mood. Manchester's Annual Tractor Parade proved that cold and dark won't keep people from enjoying a good time.
There are, of course, a few exceptions to every rule. A few days ago our president attended the Climate Change Summit in Paris. Unlike past summits this one drew 150 heads of nations from around the world. Apparently world leaders are beginning to notice that the weather's changing. As usual instead of supporting our president in this (or any) initiative the opposing party went to work immediately to undermine not only his efforts but his credibility. It makes you wonder what the rest of the world thinks of our dysfunction.
One might think that if this many world leaders (along with a supermajority of scientists) believe that climate change is a bit of a problem for mankind that others would follow. Not so fast. There's a lot of money at stake on both sides of the climate change article. Some will benefit and some will lose. The losers would be those who produce energy that adds to the problem. The winners will be those who produce energy that doesn't add to the problem.
We live in the Information Age yet we are bombarded by misinformation daily. Did Exxon intentionally lie to us about the impact of burning oil on the environment or not? Were the shootings in San Bernardino the act of deranged people or terrorists? Are Fox News and MSNBC really telling the truth?
Here in Vermont we recently had a panel discussion on whether or not Vermont should enact a carbon tax to encourage people to use less fossil fuel. The panel consisted of Paul Burns and Jon Erickson representing VPIRG and Rob Roper and John McClaughry representing Ethan Allen Institute. The discussion was emphatic; the crowd hissed and cheered. Passionate arguments from both sides were heard. Perhaps the most telling line came from Mr. Roper who stated, " if what scientists say is true the problem is too big to solve."
David Sunderland, Republican Party State Chair, penned a letter to the governor raising questions about his attendance at the Paris Summit (Shumlin is one of only three governors invited). His questions might've been answered with a simple phone call, but doing so would not score political points. His letter received a rare, pointed response from the governor's press secretary who stated that taxpayers are not funding the trip and any carbon used for the flight will be offset.
Here we are seemingly more worried about the carbon being used for one flight than we are about solving a problem that one loyalist admits is "too big to solve." Imagine one CEO in this country saying to their board that the problem confronting the company is too big to solve. "You're fired" would be the next words heard.
Some have no desire to solve the climate change problem. Some do. Some don't like the proposals being put forth to address the issue. Some do. Meanwhile, while we sit around and bicker and debate (mis)information the planet is quietly and peacefully working diligently to rectify its problem; one that it didn't create. Earth could care less about scoring political points, or summits, or whether or not what Exxon knew and when it knew it, or if we don't want to see more solar panels and/or wind turbines or transmission lines, or cars that get better mileage. It's not a problem for the planet. It's a problem for the planet's inhabitants. The sooner we come to grips with that issue the sooner we can act like Americans and tackle the problem that some think is too big to solve. Merry Christmas.
Bob Stannard lives in Manchester.