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Community Perspective

Believe in climate change, not oil

I came to Fairbanks from a state with sales, property and income taxes. I didn’t leave for that reason. I left because I had lost my wife, retired, sold a successful farm and came for a summer. I stayed, not because there were few taxes, but because I believed in what Alaska offered and because the wind doesn’t blow in Fairbanks. I still believe, although, in the past year, Alaska has lost its imaginative government leadership and is makings plans to settle for the anguish and greed of new leadership.

Mr. Gibertoni, in his Community Perspective (News-Miner, May 25), believes in nothing but energy development and austerity. Oil that, according to world scientists, is destroying the planet, but he doesn’t believe in world scientists. He believes in his president with a record of 10,000-plus lies over the past two years and who was prohibited from testifying to the Mueller hearing out of fear by his staff he would perjure himself, the man who told him scientists and climate change are fake.

Mr. Gibertoni believes in his governor, a man who believes in more energy development and an austerity plan developed by a couple oilmen brothers. An austerity plan that bankrupted the state of Kansas.

When I was a young farmer, loaded with land debt and facing the Farm Crisis of the late 1970s and 1980s, an unwise banker preaching austerity told me if I needed cash, I could sell the 3,000 head of hogs I had, and then I wouldn’t have to feed them and I’d have money from the sale. I responded that the hogs replaced themselves two and a half times a year and had shown a profit every generation. Friends who followed the unwise banker’s plan went broke and were left with low-paying jobs. When he refused my loan, I went to the bank president, explained the situation, received the loan, researched, put in place new income streams and saved the farm. The unwise banker was demoted and sent to another bank. Too bad we can’t do that with governors.

I believe in scientists who have predicted climate change for 40 years, and all their predictions have come true, except sooner than expected. I believe in governors who face our dilemma bravely, knowing it may well remove them from office. I believe in imagination, education and future generations, if we leave them a planet fit to live on. And I believe Alaska has better days to come, albeit not with the present leadership of outsiders with a broken record.

Alaska has explored austerity until every segment of the state aches from the cuts. Now we’re asked to abandon our great university, end outreach facilities and reduce our primary education to inefficient and lackadaisical shells of education. We are told we can sell the hogs so we don’t have to feed them, a blind irrational choice.

While America falls behind the rest of the world on climate science, even denying the use of the phrase in government propaganda, the northlands are the epicenter of temperature rise. We can profit there. We have a first-rate university. We have ties to NASA and relentless tides. We have, I’m told, rare elements needed in the new world. We have scientists, engineers and a shining new building for training.

And we have oil, abandoned by oil companies for Southern states where wells can be drilled in warm sunlight, fracked and expected to produce so much gas that the prices have been driven downward to near giveaway. Oil, like coal, on its final days as a usable fuel. Shall we, like Kentucky and West Virginia, cling to a dying past until there is nothing left to cling to?

When I first married in 1960, the world had 3 billion people. Now Alaska is surrounded by dying oceans, steeped in plastic, in deep need of study. We have boats. We have access to depleting fishing grounds. We have a generation of children who need access to learning and future jobs in feeding a world on its way to 10 billion people. Shall we continue to pollute? Shall we continue a greedy nontaxed failure? Or, shall we join the future with imagination, the profits of invention and the saving of our only home.

I agree with Mr. Gibertoni on one thing: We are a divided country becoming more and more handicapped by our division. Had climate change been inconveniently explained by a Republican 30 years ago, instead of a Democrat named Gore, America would be a world leader now.

Richard Ourada lives in Fairbanks.

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