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Don’t be afraid of change

October 22, 2012

Opinion | Perspective

October 21,2012
From his article in the Sunday Herald (Oct. 7) we learn that Alan Betts is Vermont’s leading climate scientist and worrier.

Mr. Betts seems to know that, in nature, everything is interconnected. Change one thing, and that may change the rest. Kill nature, and man dies with it. While Mr. Betts knows this, he seems to dismiss it in his thinking. We have destroyed much habitat, many species, and have converted much of the earth into asphalt, concrete, strip mines, slag piles, urban sprawl, Superfund sites, monoculture farms and deserts. Betts seems blind to how little nature is left. We each need to draw a line. We may be nearing a collapse of nature. The atmosphere is only one aspect of a larger problem. Betts’ myopic vision and overall ignorance render him blind to the larger picture.

Although technology has wrought all the ills Betts seeks to cure, he seems to have a religious faith that we can solve all our problems by sacrificing rare and irreplaceable habitat to yet more technology. Nature is self-healing and will re-establish itself, but only if we get out of the way and allow it. Betts dismisses those who might contribute to his understanding as being only concerned that “undisturbed ridgelines are such a sacred part of Vermont’s self-image” — an opinion Betts made up to discredit his opponents while he shuts his mind to facts.

Scientists tell us that a geologically brief 53 million years ago the earth’s atmosphere had more carbon dioxide it than we would have if we burned the earth’s entire store of fossil fuels in 300 years. Both plant and animal life thrived and allegedly evolved with great capacity to many higher life forms. Perhaps it is our present climate with polar ice caps which is less desirable. But some people are born worriers, and the slightest threat of having to adapt gives them the heebie-jeebies.

One must wonder why Mr. Betts seems neurotically inclined to see change only in negative terms — “floods, droughts, melting ice caps, collapse rushing at us!” — and partly caused by opponents of industrial wind our ridgelines, he implies. Does Betts ever look forward to the positives of climate change, such as reduced need for heating, clothing and housing, with figs, bananas, dates and newly evolved fruits growing in Vermont as they did 53 million years ago? Fortunately for him, being a scientist, he can logically rise above the foolishness of Jesus’s teaching: “Don’t worry about tomorrow.”

Mr. Betts wrote in his article: “We are not seeing a reasoned debate. Opponents are rushing to demonize, using selective ‘evidence’ to make people fearful.” Mr. Betts, are you incapable of perceiving that you are describing yourself?


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