This campaign season the Ethan Allen Institute has been churning out headlines meant to frighten us about “carbon taxes”, and republican candidates have been dutifully trumpeting these same warnings to all who will listen. In fact, there is no new carbon tax, and increasingly federal and state leaders are using incentives rather than taxes to change consumer behavior.
And as the Ethan Allen Institute focuses on riling up Vermonters, what solutions do these pundits offer? What are their proposals for reducing the growing impacts of climate and of our rapidly changing world?
It seems to me that if they really cared about the well being of Vermonters they would want to transition away from polluting fuels and the wild price swings we experienced this summer, toward fuel that is cheaper, cleaner, and with stable pricing. Instead they are fighting for the right for Vermonters to stay dependent on the same oil companies that amassed record profits while they were draining our bank accounts at the gas pumps this summer.
Or they might want to help Vermonters save money on expensive heating fuel by weatherizing more homes. In addition to saving energy, insulating homes reduces illness and respiratory disease, reducing hospitalizations and medical expenses, and increases attendance at both work and school. It is a win/win/win.
Or they might want to put their creativity, enthusiasm, and organizing experience to help Vermonters find ways to reduce the impacts of increasingly extreme weather events and maybe release less carbon into the atmosphere at the same time.
Perhaps they would help figure out how to help ski areas survive increasing numbers of rain and thaw events. Or how farmers will manage increasing droughts and floods. Or how syrup makers and tourist destinations will manage if maples can’t handle the stress.
But they offer nothing in the way of ideas, alternatives, or vision. Just rearranging the deck chairs as we steam straight toward the iceberg, while shouting about the rising price of deck chairs.
Do you want to help turn the ship, or just lend a hand with the chairs?