AFTER A DIFFICULT CLIMB APPROACHING THE SUMMIT, euphoria often sets in for a hiker. It was certainly the case for me earlier this week, as I bagged the top of Sanitas. When people let go and start to enjoy their mountain-top experience, most become more convivial.
Indeed after such a climb I am deeply grateful to God and happy to be alive and in one piece. Since I can now breathe, I'm open to human conversation, especially willing for others to talk while I listen.
So as I took those last steps to the top, a woman close to my age---39, next question----was bounding down as if she'd been up nothing more than a low flight of steps. We glanced at each other and she spoke first....You made it and you look so fresh, she said.
Surely you're not talking to me---I'm definitely feeling the altitude, I responded. I was thinking the same thing about you.
Thus began an amazing conversation which went from the where-are-you-froms to much deeper subjects which I'll get to later. First a little background:
I've been coming through super-liberal Boulder for decades, mainly going back and forth to stodgy Wyoming. Frequently I stay with or certainly see my good friends---M & D a couple I've known and loved from our early days in Washington D.C. attending meetings of the national board of The Nature Conservancy (D and I were the youngest national board members they'd ever elected). In the beginning we were all somewhat liberal, but as time grinded on, M&D became more liberal and I grew way more conservative. For the most part our friendship wasn't affected and this change often added to more lively dinner conversations on a wide range of subjects when we all got together. But as time went on I became disillusioned with TNC's politically correct stand on man-made global warming, as M &D became more entrenched in its efficacy.
Last summer while I was in Boulder, I gave D a copy of the Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi on all things Goldman Sachs and the historic bubbles it had helped engineer. I have been critical of TNC to D for TNC's entrenching both Hank Paulson as the now erstwhile chairman of TNC's board, and later enthroning Paulson's protege from Goldman---Mark Terck--as president of TNC, even as Paulson rotated to become Secretary of Treasury under Bush2 and author those famous first bailouts of the banks, his old investment firm and AIG.... that our grandchildren will be paying for forever.
I often argued to D, and still do, that Goldman/Paulson/ are so interested in TNC (and the Democratic platform) not because it wanted to save disappearing ecosystems, but rather because it/they sniffed global carbon trading that would make GS and its principles wealthy beyond all human imaginings if Cap and Trade were passed. Taibbi's article shook D to the core. He told me it kept him up all night....He's a water lawyer and told me he was currently working on a hydro project with Goldman and TNC in China.
Both M&D were and are sold on Al Gore and the foregone conclusion of man-made global warming (AGW). We would talk for hours on the pros and cons.
Anyway, back to the top of Sanitas in Boulder this week. My conversation with this woman hiker unfolded further. (As fate would have it, M&D are both out of town this time---M in Truckee babysitting their new grandson. D is in China working on his hydro project with GS and TNC.)
We had an immediate connection about exercise, a healthy lifestyle, food, family and professions. Politics was not mentioned as we gabbed.
I already surmised without doubt I was talking with a super-liberal, health-conscious Boulderite like I'd met dozens of times before......I figured there was no need to go near politics.
Then she told me was a 'climate scientist'....
I bit my tongue....A climate scientist? I said. How very interesting.
Every aching, tired muscle, sinew and nerve in my body screamed Don't go there!! You already know what she's going to say.... Don't open that can of worms.....She's from Boulder for heavens sake!
And then....then..... I took a deep breath of that super-thin Rocky Mountain air and tip-toed towards that pregnant QUESTION about man-made global warming.....
Was she a believer in AGW, I wondered.
Actually no, I'm not, she responded adding, The science has been terribly contaminated by the politics of it. Then she went to say she regularly gives lectures in the area on the myths associated with climate change.
Surely I was hallucinating from altitude and heat. Would she say that again, please? I couldn't be hearing that in Boulder.
We ended up standing there, then sitting down on rocks for thirty to forty minutes about the racket of AGW. Then we talked about the economy, debt, the printing of money, the bailouts.
I had clearly met one of the few true conservatives in Boulder. We were clearly birds of a feather. I couldn't believe my good fortune. That evening, she and her husband---a contractor and avid fly fisherman----met me for dinner at all our favorite downtown restaurent, The Med. And we talked more!
Then we decided to stay in touch.
And guess what? While my older dear, liberal friends, M & D were out-of-town, I met some new conservative ones with exactly the same first initials---M & D from the right side of town!
And now I've told the rest of the story....