Letter to the Editor - Befuddled future generations

Dear Editor,

Last week I had a letter in The Mountain Echo complaining that Representative Jason Smith was avoiding meeting with his constituents. This was not completely accurate, as it turns out. 

The very day the newspaper came out, that same evening I got an email from Smith’s Washington aides offering to arrange a visit with them during my upcoming visit. 

My husband and I therefore were able to actually sit in our Representative’s office in Washington DC and discuss with Smith’s aides some of our major political concerns. It would have been nice to talk to Mr. Smith directly, of course, but he was busy doing surprise visits with a few of his constituents back in the Eighth District - including, I understand, a surprise visit to his Farmington office. 

After having tried for months to meet with him, it was a bit mind-boggling to realize I was actually sitting in Mr. Smith’s DC office while he was sitting in Farmington. Perhaps on his summer visit we can sit down together? Maybe he will give his constituents more advance notice that he is coming to town and wants to hear their opinions?

None the less, my discussion with Mr. Smith’s aides was meaningful and informative. My husband and I both wanted to discuss climate change issues and what might be done to ameliorate the anticipated havoc a warming planet will cause, but we quickly found Mr. Smith’s aides still have doubts as to whether climate change is actually happening and much greater doubt as to whether it is human-caused. Even if it is human-caused, they are very doubtful that trying to manage the damage is worth the cost of raising people’s electrical bills.

I and my husband certainly see this all differently. We think the science shows that the climate is changing rapidly - the evidence is found in rising oceans, in numerous blocks of huge icebergs breaking away from Antarctica; in the dying of ocean corals and the release of methane from permafrost fields; in the spread of viruses and rodents; and from so much more scientific evidence.  

And we are persuaded that the costs are increasing: droughts and tornados are already causing agricultural problems, rising waters are necessitating construction of expensive flood barriers, many species on earth are threatened with extermination, and the U.S. military is making war plans based upon their reading of escalating civil unrest caused by migration from starvation zones. 

The climate change doubts expressed by Congressman 

Smith’s aides are not shared by 97 percent of the scientific community (and a majority of the dissenting 3 percent work in the fossil fuel industry).  It is unclear how motivated they might be to pursue an understanding of the science of climate change, but at least we agreed it would be beneficial to listen to each other’s views and consider them more deeply. 

I am quite willing to consider that the fight against climate change could cause an increase in electrical bills (though my own experience has been an 80 percent decrease in monthly bills after installing solar cells). 

Are climate change deniers willing to consider what the costs might be 20 years from now if it turns out they are wrong? And what will the associated costs of failing to take action now be 30 to 50 years hence? 

And what will it be like to live in a Missouri devoid of the sounds of whippoorwills? 

Will those future generations look back in befuddlement as to why politicians and those who voted for them chose short-term economic gains over conservation of the earth’s natural resources and protection of the atmosphere? 

If we get this wrong, there may be no second chance. 

Sue Hagan

Annapolis