The old saying says that free things, nice as they are without cost, cannot be prescribed or selected. The basic image is the hat on the street into which one can toss a penny or a Benjamin — the busker or beggar has no choice in the matter.

In a way that’s our situation with air, rain and sunshine. They are free and, like the beggars, we have to put up with whatever we get. Sometimes we like them, other times not. If we don’t pay for them, we cannot choose.

In the past, gods were credited with weather in any form. Some people addressed thanks to their gods for those free gifts. Or they thought that storms, floods and droughts were punishments from the gods, but equally uncontrolled.

Now we realize that natural phenomena are not really free. They can cost a lot when humanity does not take care of them. Their fees come as retribution for our old casual assumption that they were free. We have to pay for the results of our negligence.

Acid rain from burning coal years ago should have alerted us to air pollution. Now it is weather patterns that are changing. We might beg for nicer temperatures or fewer floods and storms but we are not choosers. We can beg our governments to take action to improve the environment but they will probably delay. Because many people in government and business still think that air and weather are free, the price will continue to rise.

Load comments