At Least Try

On Nov. 16, Politico quoted Congressman Peter DeFazio: “The idea that in five years or 10 years we’re not going to consume any more fossil fuels is technologically impossible,” says DeFazio (D-Ore.), who’s in line to lead the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told Politico. “We can have grand goals but let’s be realistic about how we get there.”

Four days later on Facebook, DeFazio clarified his position. He’s long believed climate change is the most important issue of our time and we need “dramatic change in policy” to address it, citing his record, including sponsoring a mandatory cap on emissions and a carbon tax.

But, he added, with climate deniers in the White House, Senate and House, we “need renewed energy and activism to achieve real change” and he looks forward to working for “massive federal investments” toward “a radical reduction of greenhouse gases,” etc. 

In the 1975 film of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962), Randall Patrick McMurphy, the lead character played by Jack Nicholson, tries to lift a huge washbasin out of the floor to crash through the window to escape while others stand around. After many unsuccessful attempts, he says, “At least I tried!” 

It’s better to try and fail than to pretend smooth sailing with just a bit of technological tinkering and perhaps a modest change of course. The future is now.

Maybe our time has already passed. But better to try to do the right thing, even if too late. That’s being “realistic.”

Samuel Porter, Eugene

Editor’s note: See Rep. Peter DeFazio’s response this issue.