The truth is, I feel cheated.
We generally get one or two snowstorms every winter, heavy enough to coat the ground, stop traffic, empty the bread and milk racks and make everything look like a Christmas card. Just enough to be refreshing, but not debilitating.
Of course, we also get a lot of wintry mix.
But this year, we had that pretty flurry about 10 days ago, none of which stuck. That’s about it, so far.
I feel cheated.
I anticipate that snowfall every winter. I still remember one of last winter’s storms, frosting the ground, the roads, the trees. I put on my wool jacket and knitted cap and marched down the middle of Second Street, the only audible sound the crunch from my boots on the icy crust.
I walked a loop from downtown to Old Salem and back, mostly solitaire, but sometimes waving to others who were outside, spellbound like me. The flakes kept falling, fat and wet, backlit by streetlights.
My breath blossomed in ice crystals. Time stood still.
Later, there was hot chocolate.
Now I fear that the influence of climate change may have stolen one of my most beloved joys.
The lack of snow isn’t the only tangible sign of change. Every spring I have to turn the air conditioner on a little earlier than the year before, and keep it on longer. I much prefer open windows. I much prefer North Carolina’s four distinct seasons.
Of course, people in other parts of the world are suffering worse consequences. Islands are sinking beneath rising sea water. Hundreds of Europeans die annually in record-breaking summer heat waves. And then there’s Australia. Even under the most optimistic projections, we’re going to be dealing with climate change for generations.
But I’m allowed to miss my snowfall — aren’t I? It’s a treasure, practically a birthright, that may have been stolen from all of us.
Of all the issues we face these days, climate change in particular makes me feel helpless. It’s not going to be fixed with a few electric cars. It’ll only be reversed — or mitigated — through widespread institutional changes that seem unlikely — and that are opposed by powerful, influential forces.
But there may be hope.
On Friday, The Washington Post reported an alliance of corporations (including big oil companies), environmental advocacy groups, economists and prominent citizens that bills itself as “the broadest climate coalition in U.S. history.” It offers an ambitious plan that includes a variety of approaches to tackling climate change. More about that in the future.
Even more significant, perhaps, the coalition includes members of the Republican Party, which is finally waking up to the necessity of tackling the problem.
“In poll after poll, large numbers of young and suburban Republican voters are registering their desire for climate action and say the issue is a priority. And their concern about climate change is spreading to older GOP supporters, too,” reporter Steven Mufson wrote in a Washington Post story earlier this month. He profiled several Republican leaders who are forging a new approach, including Rep. Bruce Westerman, a graduate of Yale University’s forestry school, who has authored a bill calling for the planting of a trillion trees, which would soak up atmospheric carbon dioxide like a sponge.
Well, knock me over with a spoon. This is good news indeed.
But all is not puppies and roses. Later in the story, Mufson quotes Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., saying, “Democrats like sticks and we like carrots. We’re not out there dreaming about unicorns. We’re talking about taking fact-based solutions.”
And I think: Does everything have to be partisan?
And I think: Excuse me? While you and James Inhofe were busy throwing snowballs at each other on the Senate floor, Democrats were begging you to stop playing with unicorns. They’ve been doing the heavy lifting on this problem for decades. Don’t waltz in here 10 minutes ago and act like you’re Joe Climate. Show a little respect.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act endorsed by the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus puts money in taxpayer pockets. How’s that for a carrot? The same is true of the carbon-tax plan promoted by Reagan administration veterans George Shultz and James A. Baker.
This new coallition promises lots of carrots.
Not having your home flooded or burned out — how’s that for a carrot? How about clean air that won’t send children with respiratory problems to the hospital every summer? How about an annual snowfall?
Don’t get me wrong. Even if our Republican friends are late to the party, they’re welcome, as are their suggestions. They could be heroes. Their participation could turn the tide (no pun intended).
And they could do so in a fashion that unites Americans rather than pushing them apart. How about giving that a try?
Do they have a snowball’s chance? Do we?
I hope, I hope, I hope so.