Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

You know Chicken Little would have been happier if the sky actually fell. As it was, he got his friends all riled up; one got eaten by a fox because she couldn’t think straight, and then what? The sky didn’t budge. He felt like an ass in the barnyard sense.

The moral of the story is to not book a one-way, first-class ticket to doomsday on the wind-powered eco train or, if you do, root like hell for environmental calamity so you don’t end up looking like a fool waiting at the station. You have to admit that this was pretty prescient for a story that can be traced back 25 centuries and attributed to the Buddha.

What I’m saying is that you don’t want to get so attached to the idea of greenhouse-gas Armageddon that you end up with a vested interest in it. Trust me – it will make you yearn for gloom, and bitterness will start to taste sweet.

I have experienced this perverse mentality, I cringe to admit. I learned the perils of pessimistic thinking for profit firsthand. It was back in late summer 2008. The stock market was showing signs of cracking. The housing market was teetering, and gigantic banks were failing. Suddenly the stock markets dropped 20 percent. Lots of folks thought the news that drove it down was exaggerated and the worst was behind. Not me. I sold stocks short.

Shorting stocks is placing a bet that calamity is imminent. For a small fee, you borrow stock from somebody and promise to give the same number of shares back in, say, 60 days. You sell the borrowed shares immediately and pocket the cash, and then you start praying that the stocks tank so you can buy them back at panic-sale prices and return the battered shares to the person who lent them to you. Too bad for them! The idea is to take advantage of someone with a positive outlook.

Some will tell you that this is a perfectly legit way to trade stocks; there is nothing unethical about it. Their argument is that, if a stock is poised to drop, you can’t stop it, so you might as well take advantage of it. And these people are correct. But I will tell you that this type of trade took me into the deepest, darkest, most treacherous, and moldering place in my psyche, which smothered my mind in the foulest muck of base human thinking, and I’m not just saying that. I became Chicken Little, the sky fell, and I was OK with that because it proved I was right!

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I made money on it. That’s the most insidious part of the whole damn thing. I hardly got rich with my meager stake. It was only enough to mark my place on the game board, something to keep score with. I won’t say that I was happy when the global economy cratered, but I was too busy monitoring my short positions to notice the massive human suffering. Companies were announcing horrific layoffs. Millions of families were losing their jobs, their homes and their hope. What did I care? I just made $250! You know you are in an awful place when good news makes you cringe and you curse those who bear it. I learned, though. I’ll never crawl back into that cave where you hope that light at the end gets smaller.

It is why I will not stake a claim on the side of global warming. I do not want to be a part of the pack that is climbing all over itself to claim that Hurricane Sandy was a result of large carbon footprints and seeing it as nothing more than proof that they are right. I do not want to root for the melting of the polar ice caps to justify my efforts at living green. God help those whose stations in life depend on the coming of the end of the world!

I drive a Prius because it’s the perfect commuting car for me and parking is free. I ride my bicycle to work because I enjoy it. I keep the thermostat at 65 degrees in the winter because I sleep better when it’s cooler. I don’t believe in being wasteful because I just don’t; thank you, Mom and Dad. The bottom line is that I’m not going green to save the planet. I’ll conserve to save myself. It’s a spiritual thing. I’ll do what I reasonably should, and the chips will fall where they will. I humbly accept that. I’ve placed my bet on the sky staying right where it is.

To me, that’s a sustainable outlook.

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