by Peter Freyne
"Global warming," that is.
How nice of Mother Nature to give Montepeculiar, Vermont an increasingly rare little dusting of snow Wednesday morning. A reminder of the way it's supposed to look in January.
Ah, the good old days!
Room 11, the largest hearing room, was packed to overflowing as four Senate and House committees - the environment and transportation ones - kicked-off three weeks worth of hearings on global warming. Senate leader Peter Shumlin (D-Windham) told the packed room, “The long and the short of it is, climate change is the single greatest challenge, frankly the single greatest catastrophe that our children and grandchildren are gonna face.”
"It is one of those issues," said Putney Pete, "where the more youknow, the less you wish you knew. I mean, it’s absolutely frightening."
Shumlin said is was "encouraging to see 6th graders from MainStreet Middle School here today because it’s their future that we’retalking about.”
Yes, it most certainly is. Anyone want to volunteer to be 11 years old again?
The first witness was distinguished author and environmental activist Bill McKibben of Ripton. McKibben (on the right with Sen. Shumlin), made it perfectly clear that, "We do not need any more proof. Global warming is no longer an hypothesis," said McKibben, "but rather, a well-established scientific fact. The burning of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases it produces is sparking a rapid increase in the earth’s temperature."
Said the visionary End of Nature (1989) author:
“We do know all the computer modeling tells us that if we don’t get a lot done, we’re going to have winters like New Jersey in 20 years. It’s time and it's possible and indeed profitable for Vermonters to quickly grapple with this issue and begin to take the lead. Not the sort of small bites that we’ve taken out of this problem in the past, but real powerful leadership."
Democrat Peter Shumlin raised the global warming banner big time shortly after the November election, putting it at the very top of the 2007 Vermont Legislature "to-do" list. He struck a chord. Two months later, global warming became a surprise key focus of Republican Gov. Jim Douglas' third inaugural address.
Said Sen. Shumlin as the morning session wrapper-upper:
"I think the beauty of what’s happening here now is that you’re seeing the first state legislature in the country make this the most important issue that we’re facing. Our kids and grandkids are going to look back on this and say there was a bright light somewhere in Vermont. We’ve got to get to work. We have a lot of ground to make up."