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A comic strip relates to our present climate crisis

I have on my wall a framed Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson from years ago. Calvin is a child and Hobbes is his stuffed toy tiger that comes alive in Calvin’s imagination.

Simply because it is fun, Calvin and Hobbes are hurtling down a hill in a wagon, obviously out of control.  Calvin makes the observation that ignorance truly is bliss. He goes on to say that once you know things, you start seeing problems everywhere.

“Once you see problems, you feel like you ought to try to fix them,” Calvin says. “Fixing problems always seems to require personal change. Change means doing things that aren’t fun.”

To this he says, “Phooey!” He goes on,“ if you’re willfully stupid, you don’t know any better, so you can keep doing whatever you like. The secret to happiness is short-term, stupid self-interest.”

Hobbes tries to warn Calvin that they are heading for a cliff, but Calvin does not want to hear about it. They plunge over the cliff, landing in a heap, battered and bruised. Hobbes states, “I’m not sure I can stand so much bliss,” to which Calvin replies, “Careful! We don’t want to learn anything from this.”

Sound familiar? Everybody likes warm weather, so who cares if the ice packs melt and polar bears have to work a little harder to make ends meet? Well, according to one explanation, if the ice pack goes away we lose one of the engines that drives the ocean currents which circle in the Atlantic and eventually come up through the Caribbean, creating our moderate climate. If this stops, we get a new ice age; but we don’t want to hear that, do we?

Lately I am seeing ads by the coal industry encouraging us to put Americans back to work by relaxing those pesky Environmental Protection Agency standards so we can go back to burning good old coal, now that oil is becoming more problematic with the turmoil in the Middle East and nuclear power literally blowing up in our faces.  We don’t want nasty wind power with those unsightly windmills (maybe if we used the old-fashioned design they would be considered quaint and colorful?) or solar power with those big, clumsy, space-gobbling panels. The fact that they can’t seem to come up with a good way to charge for power generated by these systems, or justify price increases based on shortages, may be more to the point.

I have to say it is nice not having such cold weather anymore. Of course we may have to evacuate Canada, but we’re OK for now and that’s the important thing.

Bill Abrams resides in Pine Plains.

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