Letter to the Editor: The big picture

3 mins read

I was educated in Geology here at UMF. It was a great experience. We went into the field to observe in it features we studied in our text books each week. Through those trips I learned to see the environment I grew up with in a whole new light. More than anything else, I learned not to take it for granted that the earth beneath my feet would remain unchanged because I could now see from the evidence available that it was always slowly changing.

I went on to Brown University to work on a PhD after that. That was a much different experience. I spent most of my time in the lab creating synthetic samples of rocks that are only stable in nature when formed miles beneath the surface of the Earth or experimenting on them by simulating that environment and the stresses it exerts. But I was also fortunate enough to observe the research that the world’s brightest climate scientists were doing thanks to the weekly presentations that university invited them to give.

Before I go on I must say that the Geology Department at UMF presented this material in a way that was consistent with what the experts presented at Brown University. The Earth is warming due to human activity and that warming is altering our climate. That point was made clear by both universities and the experts who provided the data that made the case clear to begin with.

That being said, the communities that surround these institutions do appear to have a different take on things. For instance, around here many have come to believe that there’s good reason to support the construction of solar farms in Maine, while opposing the transmission of hydro-electric power. I believe that’s primarily due to the hope that locally generated power will have a greater positive economic impact than solar development coupled with the rate reductions the introduction of more hydro-electric power will provide, though I’ve seen no evidence to support that notion.

Around Brown University, where this same argument centers on what will have the greatest positive impact on climate, this is not even a discussion. They have their own debate over the impact of offshore wind development, but they aren’t asking if hydro power coupled with solar power will have a greater positive environmental impact than solar power alone because the economic interests behind this local debate aren’t having an impact there. Nor are concerns over scenery, tourism, vacation properties, or any other local interest.

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when we begin to consider all the concerns we can think of. We’ve been slow to respond to climate change because of this. That’s cost us. I hope that won’t continue but only time will tell.

Jamie Beaulieu
Farmington, Maine

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