It has been predicted that when the year 2050 arrives, Vermonters will be using 90 percent renewable energy and the world will be well on its way to controlling climate change. I doubt that, and here’s why.
Picture Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has repeatedly expounded on the horrors of climate change, flying again this winter to a faraway place aboard a jet that burns thousands of gallons of fuel per flight. Picture him dining at nice restaurants in this distant land, consuming the finest food and drink flown in from who knows where.
Now, picture the poor Therrien family of Sheffield, Vt., whose total carbon footprint is no doubt a mere fraction of Peter Shumlin’s personal carbon footprint. Picture the sleepless Therriens in their small house, huddled against the maddening noise of nearby industrial wind turbines while Peter Shumlin is wining and dining in some faraway place, living a lifestyle that pollutes the atmosphere with more carbon than the average human does.
Throughout human history, whenever the moneyed and politically powerful have forced those people with little power to sacrifice, while they themselves refuse to, no endeavor or program has ever succeeded for long. As an example, the system of communism fell apart when the average worker noticed that those with more power than themselves were living the good life instead of doing their equal share.
Internationally, China and other countries have fallen for the same chapter on selfish gluttony in the book of human nature as Peter Shumlin has here in Vermont. Like Shumlin, China has figured that they do not have to do their fair share to stop climate change. In fact, China is about to start building 60 coal-to-methane gasification plants (at over $1 billion each) that will spew far more carbon into the atmosphere than if they just straight up burned the coal instead of gasifying it. These 60 new plants will put into the atmosphere as much carbon per year as the entire energy hoggish United States currently puts out in three-quarters of a year. This is in addition to China’s current massive carbon output, which already is the greatest in the world. This type of greed leads to what is called “game over.” I haven’t even touched on what Russia, India and African and South American countries will be doing to add to carbon pollution because they think, like Governor Shumlin, that others should conserve, not themselves.
Back here in the United States and in Vermont, we have what is called a renewables-industrial complex, where politicians in power feed government money and subsidies (your money) to renewable energy building contractors who make large amounts of money and who then feed a lot of this money to lobbyists and political campaigns so they can get even more projects and more subsidies for themselves. These contractors and politicians are so busy chasing this whirlwind of money and political power that they will spare no time to stop and compensate people like the poor Therriens for the loss of their family’s good life.
Governor Shumlin has declared during his re-election campaign that he wants to open the 400,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest to wind turbine development. A large industrial wind development company from Spain has already mapped more than two dozen sites in our national forest for wind turbine development. A couple of these sites are mere feet from federal Wilderness Areas. Before this new taxpayer-subsidy-fueled whirlwind of the renewables-industrial complex can begin, Peter Shumlin and the turbine contractors must wait with wringing hands for Judge J. Garvan Murtha to rule whether it is OK for wind turbines to broadcast their sound more than halfway through the Aiken Wilderness and to spin away along the whole eastern horizon of that wilderness.
Peter Shumlin doesn’t care about getting his own personal carbon footprint down to that of the average person of the world. Peter Shumlin doesn’t even care about the turbine developers permanently destroying super-rare and fragile alpine ecology. But what really bothers me is that Peter Shumlin doesn’t even begin to care about the suffering Therriens.