Look out, Virginia! Here we come!

08.10.2009 | HMMH |

by Steve Barrett

I think we all struggle to grasp the threat of climate change.  Believers issue the clarion call of melting glaciers and drowning polar bears when few of us have ever seen a polar bear beyond the technicolor of TV.  Cynics say we can’t risk our economic health (I can hear the wheezing) worrying about science fiction of the distant future.  Listen, the year 2050 seems a long way off and many of us will be well beyond the pale in some form by that point.  Leave the problem to the ingenuity of future generations who will have larger brains and more sophisticated tools to remake the third rock from the sun or create a new paradise in some other neighborhood in the universe.  Heck – I could be swayed to just kick back, crank up the air-conditioning and drive a Winnebago around the world, ignorant to the subtle signs reported on NPR as I drive the ribbon of highway soon to connect the purple mountains majesty with the Tierra del fuego.  But then there is that slow train coming heading south to Virginia.

Emissions Scenario

As a native New Englander, the thought of Massachusetts migrating south to Virginia makes me sweat.  It’s not that I dislike Virginia or think it somehow uncultured when compared to my elitist home (hub of the universe, Athens of America, yada yada).  In fact, I spent 5 years living with southern “Commonwealth” cousins, and I can tell you, there aren’t more welcoming people.  It’s just that I am partial to the combination of mountains with the brilliance of fall from the maples and birches, coastline of rocks and sand, and rivers all nice and clean thanks to successful environmental regulation.

Cape Cod forms an amazing eco-boundary between the humpback whales and sea turtles of the south and the cod and lobster of the north; all of that great bounty for us New Englanders to plunder and restore for 400 years – which we have done well.  But none of these wonderful creatures will be here in 2050 if we don’t take action today.  Well, a few mutants will survive and create populations closer to the arctic, but isn’t there a better way?  Do we really want to induce such environmental havoc where humans live with the likes of poison ivy and Asian long-horned beetles?

I say sprinkle some wind turbines amongst the glory of fall foliage (head north on I-93 to I-89 to Route 10 and the small town of Lempster NH for your first glimpse)


and throw a few more in the ocean off Nantucket.  Not only will it put some speed bumps along the eastern seaboard to slow our advance on Virginia, but it will also give us elitists of New England another “first” to crow about besides Harvard and the Industrial Revolution.