People runnin' everywhere
Don't know the way to go
Don't know where I am
Can't see past the next step
Don't have to think past the last mile
Have no time to look around Just run around, run around and think why
Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care?
If so I can't imagine why
We've all got time enough to die
Oh no, no -- Chicago Transit Authority
All one needs to do is to go online and read the comments offered by those responding to articles that have anything to do developing renewable energy in Vermont to understand the future headed our way.
Some don't like wind turbines on our ridges. Some don't like solar panels in our fields. Some don't even like solar panels on our roofs. Try to build a hydro dam to produce power and a constituency will come forward saying they don't want to mess with the rivers.
The fight is not that different than the fight over garbage. Everyone goes to the store and buys stuff. There was a time stuff came in bulk and that's how you bought stuff. There was very little waste. Today when you buy some small object it comes in a blister pack complete with cardboard and maybe placed inside another box to boot. We all just seem to love buying stuff that comes in containers that we through away, but then when it comes to building a facility to deal with our waste our collective heads explode.
Perhaps one of the most important and effective things we can do that shouldn't rile anyone up too badly is to increase our efficiency and conserve more of the energy we're currently creating. Everyone appears to love the idea of both of these options, even though on their own they most likely won't address the problem in its entirety, they will certainly help. Who could possibly be against these two tools being used to address the problem?
If we put efficiency and conservation to use then it would seem logical that the best place to start would be on our housing stock. If we can agree that renovating and retrofitting our housing stock makes our buildings as efficient as possible, and that this is a good thing, then perhaps we could agree that the worst houses should be fixed first. You might call it picking the low hanging fruit.
Who might own the houses that are in the worst condition using more fuel than necessary and spewing unwanted CO2 into the atmosphere? Why the poor, of course. So, what are we doing to address this component of the problem? Under the Community Action Partnership there is a program known as the Weatherization Program. For the record, before retiring I represented the CAP's in their effort to secure funding for this program.
The state has set a goal of weatherizing 80,000 homes by the year 2020. Will that be enough? Who knows, but it's a good start and perhaps if those who can afford to weatherize their house see the results of this effort then they, too, might be inspired to implement some improvements.
The Weatherization Program is one that works and can demonstrate a real return on investment. If we are serious about trying to make a different in our energy consumption than this budget should be doubled or even tripled. Instead, once again, this program has been level funded and the advocates are forced to into combat to keep from reducing the capacity to do the job.
The Community Action Agencies who run this program were told to increase capacity so that they could help the State meet its goal. They did what was asked of them. Anyone who knows how funding works knows level funding means that there will be a reduction in capacity; not an increase needed to attain the goal.
I understand fiscal pressures as well as anyone. I spent four year on the House Appropriations Committee. That's a very difficult job in the best of times. We are not in the best of times, but investing in this particular program puts people to work, while having the added benefit of reducing our fuel consumption, and if you're looking at the bigger picture, which you damn well better be, for if not there will be no bigger picture, it helps to reduce the spooge we're shooting up into the air every day.
Either we take climate change seriously or we don't. The earth could care less as it will cure itself, but you might want to wake up and start caring.
To quote a friend of mine, "My grandfather wasn't shot down over the North Sea defending my right to screw up the planet. This generation owns this problem. To say we can't afford to fix it is an affront to our forefathers sacrifice and a disgrace upon our children."
We can fight over ridgelines and fields and work hard to hold back programs that will make a difference, but does anybody really know what time it is?
Bob Stannard is a Banner columnist.