Friday, December 02, 2022
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The Snowball Effect

by Robin Paone
| November 9, 2022 1:00 AM

Busy weeks left me yearning to get outdoors to take advantage of the amazing October weather we’d been having. I headed up the Big Mountain Danny On trail early. The air was cold and damp and the sun had barely risen. The sky was overcast and I could faintly smell smoke from the prescribed burn one peak to the east.

The upward trail was slow going but I made steady progress. Trudging along I stared up at what I had left to climb – such a long steep hike!

When I paused and took in the scenery behind me - what I had accomplished so far in my climb - it was beautiful. The huckleberry leaves bright red. The larch fluffy yellow. Gold brush against the backdrop of the dark green pines. In the distance Whitefish Lake reflecting like a mirror. This made me think of our transition to clean energy.

We’ve been climbing up a mountain towards a clean energy economy. It’s been slow, hard, and rough going. We look forward and see such a steep uphill climb ahead, such a long way to go. But, when we pause and take a look around, we notice the beauty of what we have accomplished. We have an astonishing explosion of clean energy innovation and products; electric snow blowers, electric school buses, electric forklifts.

I kept stepping upward along the quiet path. No resting at The Bench. I didn’t want to chance changing my mind. I wanted to reach my goal to the top.

The last third of the hike was the most difficult, especially that last little strip paralleling what we affectionately call the Ant Hill. It was steep. I was out of breath and had to slow down. I could see the top of the mountain was close and I was able to glance at some spectacular views off to the side.

We have technology today to largely stop emitting climate pollution. Scientists tell us it will be the last few years of our uphill climb that will be most difficult. This is why we should rapidly build affordable clean energy now. At the same time, invest in research to solve the trickiest climate pollution problems.

I made it to the top of Big Mountain! Not much to see except the motionless ski lifts and Summit House in a ghostly damp fog. But, stepping back onto the trail for the hike down - wow! The view of the valley stretched out to Flathead Lake and Blacktail. Trekking downward was a breeze.

I feel we’ll experience the same excitement once we’ve gotten up the mountain of abundant clean energy. We’ll see all the amazing things it does for us. Our momentum will be strong. We’ll have affordable healthy choices and clean air. It will be an easy downhill glide to keep going and complete our transition away from pollution. Things will snowball!

About an hour and a half later I reached the trailhead where I started and was so proud of what I accomplished. And speaking of snowballs, just then it started to sprinkle and I knew the mountain would be covered in snow the next morning. And it was.

Let’s not just stare at the daunting heights we still need to achieve in our clean energy transition. Stop to take in the amazing views. Then, be inspired to keep going!

Will you call Senators Daines and Tester, Congressman Rosendale, and our newly elected Representative and ask them to support clean energy? And, be sure to give appreciation when they step up, even small steps. Our avalanche of monthly calls will make a difference.

Robin Paone lives in Whitefish and is a Citizens' Climate Lobby volunteer.

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