Commentary

We cannot virtue signal our way to a climate solution

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Last week in the news there was a teenage girl being exploited by the international community, and I couldn’t watch. I’m self-aware enough to know that I can sink into crippling empathy if I let myself, especially when it comes to bad things happening to children. Heck, I couldn’t even watch full episodes of Lassie when little Timmy was in trouble; I had to leave the room until I heard the happy tones of the heroic rescue scene.

Who’s going to rescue this teenage girl and her followers, here and abroad, from the joy-killing, guilt-building, rage-inciting, resentment-stoking Malthusian hopelessness they’ve been brought to by the purveyors of climate change absolutism? They’ve been led to believe their future has been stolen from them. I feel so bad for the kids in the grip of such fear, anxiety, and anger.

I can’t watch.

Here’s a little climate change reality. It’s happening, and we can’t stop it.

Instead of wasting our time and money trying to score points and win political power, we ought to get on with things. Instead of mounting a futile effort to stop the climate from changing (and impoverishing ourselves in the process by banning fossil fuels), we can marshal our considerable wealth and genius to devise and implement a plan that helps us cope with its worst effects and take advantage of its best effects. This strategy will work, independent of the cause of climate change, if helping people is truly the aim (is it?).

Why does anyone, especially any leader, insist on browbeating others into conforming to the belief that man is the cause of climate change? No living, breathing human being is going to be helped by such conversions to the faith. In contrast, real people in grinding poverty will be helped if we can bring them abundant, cheap energy. The number one risk factor for early death is extreme poverty. Why don’t we focus our efforts on things we already know how to do that will improve their lives?

In rural India for example, indoor air pollution from cooking fires is a terrible problem. The government is attempting to implement universal electrification, but it’s difficult to bring reliable and cheap power to every hut and hovel. We shouldn’t make it harder by shaming India for using fossil fuels to save the lives of its people.

The Maine town of Stonington wants to be ready for sea level rise. They need money for infrastructure projects, but no funds are forthcoming from the state. Instead, our state is embarking on a plan to become carbon neutral 25 years from now. What is the point of that? Why are we wasting precious resources subsidizing useless wind turbines, solar panels and electric cars instead of helping people?

Spend money now on coping with the predicted effects of climate change instead of on authoritarian mandates that will have no effect on future global temperatures. Stop putting your virtue on display. Start doing something to help real people, those alive now and their progeny.

And for heaven’s sake, stop scaring the kids. It’s torture. I can’t watch.

About Jane Getchell Gildart

Jane is a Yarmouth resident, a lifelong Mainer, and an alumna of Bowdoin College. Her blog, Ordinarily Skeptical, can be found at https://ordinarilyskeptical.wordpress.com.

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