Hard decisions come with climate action

Meredith Carroll would not have written this column even a couple of years ago (“Shame on the climate shamers,” Jan. 22, The Aspen Times).

Public opinion is shifting rapidly. The Basalt fire put some heat on the matter locally. Matt McClain’s response is spot on. Top down and bottom up is required. Leadership needs education, as well as does the public. Leadership needs pressure from the people. Only infrequently do leaders actually take the risk of leading. At the same time, government mandates are essential in changing public norms for business and society. Litter was a huge problem until penalties were passed. Acid rain was a problem until we had an EPA that demanded scrubbing.

The problem with personal changes is that people often become less concerned about the bigger problems. Still, if people voluntarily stopped buying plastic water bottles, the stores would not stock them and manufacturers would stop supplying them. On the other hand, many places have either outlawed them or put stiff deposits on them.

Unfortunately, the greenhouse gases (GHG) problem is so huge and so advanced that major actions are needed immediately. What I am working on now is imagining the future that will result from eliminating new GHG. Everything will be disrupted. Activities that we take for granted will need to be stopped. I looked at the rationing program during World War II. Gasoline was rationed because it was essential to the war effort. Auto racing was prohibited. Today, that would mean cancelling NASCAR. Can you imagine the screaming over that. But gas rationing would make a huge impact on emissions and would affect all the industry and business that flows from burning gasoline. Like Aspen.

People around the world are already floating the idea of a universal basic income. People will lose their livelihoods when less service and merchandise are sold.

There is really a lot to work out. Who is doing the planning for this kind of future?

Patrick Hunter