My second letter to Vermont's governor-elect, paired with a mostly unrelated painting.
To: Phil Scott
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05633
12 December 2016
Congratulations again on your recent election. I wrote three weeks ago to urge you forward in defense of our currently livable climate. I'm writing again on the same errand.
To find common ground, I read your statement on the anniversary of 9/11. Your message, of unity and progress in response to seeing "life as we knew it crumble before our eyes," is exactly right for the ongoing emergency of climate change. Hundreds of thousands of people have died-- and are still dying-- from 9/11 and the wars we undertook in response. Hundreds of thousands are dying every year, already, from human-caused climate change, and given our current activities, those deaths will accelerate. Life is beginning to crumble before our eyes. We need unity against that disaster.
On 9/11/2001, I was twenty-one, working for room and board on a small, family-run organic farm on the border of France and Spain. The farmers and their children didn't think much of me: I'm a slow picker and I eat a lot, and they could barely understand my middle-school French, nor could I understand their preferred Catalan. But after watching the towers come down on television, we managed to share our horror and fear, and our common wishes. The common wish I remember was for global unity against bombing and war. We hoped 9/11 would lead to an end to killing masses of people. It's waste and evil, whatever the rationale. I haven't spoken to those farmers since then. After fifteen years of war, and more to come, there's not much to say that's cheerful.
But I continue to hope for unity and progress against climate change. It is, or should be, a perfect conservative issue: what tradition is better worth defending than our traditional ability to survive on this planet? Our growing problem stems from thoughtless, checkless waste of resources. Many of the solutions will involve returning to earlier traditions of small, slow, stable communities that aren't dependent on the chaotic, vast and fragile systems we're now caught in.
You're a race car driver. We've been accelerating the whole planet, which is a heavy vehicle with kids in the passenger seats and not nearly enough seatbelts (the driver has the only one). Do you trust that we won't crash? Let's slow down.
The situation calls for care and foresight. Your Twitter page says "leadership that listens," and your website says you've kept an open office as lieutenant governor (a practice I hope you'll maintain as governor). Please listen to the people who'll be alive longest: go visit a science class at Montpelier High School. Those kids will be more affected by your decisions than anyone who's likely to walk into your office, and I bet you'd enjoy listening to them.
Right now we're nearly all unified in the fight against climate change. The group that's least unified with us-- and I'm sorry to put it bluntly-- is old Republicans. Join us!
Glen Coburn Hutcheson