Wissot: You can leave your children a spiffy condo or a safer planet | VailDaily.com

Wissot: You can leave your children a spiffy condo or a safer planet

I watched in amazement last week the havoc that climate change is wreaking across the nation.

In California, two raging forest fires were racing to rendezvous at the shores of Lake Tahoe. In Louisiana, Grand Isle, a narrow barrier island off the Gulf Coast, was completely leveled and left uninhabitable by the cataclysmic arrival of Hurricane Ida. The last remnants of that lethal storm were felt in New York City, where subways flooded, city streets were turned into streams, moviegoers in a theater found themselves sitting in water, and in the Bronx, a tornado warning was issued.

The few skeptics who claim that what were once described as 500-year weather events are not signs of human-caused climate change can be grouped with the holiest of Holocaust deniers when 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that human activities are causing global warming. The credibility of the few hard-line climate change skeptics is dubious at best. They include scientists who revel in their roles as mavericks, heretics and contrarians. More importantly, their reputations were forged in scientific fields unrelated to climate change.

We are suffering from the failure 30 years ago when the first alarms were sounded to do anything to reduce greenhouse emissions. Bill Moyers did a series of specials on PBS in the late 1980s with scientists tracking the warming of the Earth’s temperatures and prophesizing what we see happening today.

The die is cast for the first half of the 21st century. None of the investments we could possibly make now will change the course of climate change over the next 30 years. Today’s boomers will be dead before the trillions spent would do anything to slow down the destructive weather patterns we are experiencing with alarming frequency. Those benefits would only go to their children, grandchildren and great-grand children during the second half of this century.

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What do the boomers want their kids to inherit after they die? A spiffy condo or a safer planet? It is not a sure bet, as the climate skeptics remind us that the trillions we spend now to make the planet greener will have a significant impact on climate change later. It could be all for naught.

What is for sure is that if we do nothing, the warming of the planet will continue unabated and the normalizing of drastic climate changes will trail our descendants into the next century.

There is little doubt that well-off boomers will see their 401ks go down and their portfolios take a hit in order to pay for the costly programs proposed by progressive Democrats in Congress. Taxes will have to go up not only for the wealthy, but across the broad spectrum of middle and lower class tax payers. Soaking the rich will not be enough to stem the tide.

I attended a lecture 40 years given by the great American historian Henry Steele Commager on the obligation each generation has to succeeding generations. Sarcastically, Commager posed this question to his audience: “What has posterity done for you?” His answer? Nothing. “That’s not the way it works,” he said. “You’re supposed to make sacrifices for them. You’re the benefactors. They’re the beneficiaries. That’s how it works.”

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