Some time ago, I attended a neighborhood meeting in which residents were asked to offer their neighbors rides when needed. This seemed like a good way to help out fellow human beings and I gladly signed up. But one neighbor made a non-relevant statement: “I’m glad to see you all here for the purpose of reducing carbon emissions and saving the planet.”

I had to respond. “I’m not here to reduce carbon emissions. I came in order to volunteer to help my neighbors. Period.”

The person who brought up the save-the-earth thing was a familiar face. I had seen her on the nightly news as she was being hauled off to jail for protesting something or other. And, of course, she blames automobiles for every heat wave, hurricane, snowstorm and cold spell. It’s our fault for driving our cars. We are responsible for everything. Evil Americans.

Well, the truth is that maybe my Chevy Cruz is not the cause for last year’s cold winter and late spring. Maybe it’s something else. Perhaps these odd weather patterns are not at all the product of our feet on the gas pedal.

New findings

Findings in a study recently published in the British publication Nature contains some myth-shattering news that you probably won’t hear about through the mainstream media. The study has concluded that high-altitude winds, blowing from west to east, greatly influence weather in several areas around the globe, including the United States.

These winds produce atmospheric waves. The term “wave” indicates a similarity to ocean waves. And these waves play a major role in producing — or at a minimum greatly influencing — unusually hot, cold, wet and dry conditions. This explains how, for instance, frigid air from northern Canada kept pounding us in Maine last winter. The atmospheric waves drew the air here. The waves siphoned the super-chilled air from up north down to Maine. The same thing happens when we have a heat wave. Tropical air, directed here by these waves, causes higher-than-normal temperatures in places that are normally much cooler.

This, of course, is bad news for global warming enthusiasts. But as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t seem likely that word of this phenomenon will ever make it big. There’s too much money involved. Indeed, a whole culture, dependent upon thwarting the use of our plentiful, natural resources, would be hung out to dry. And that just can’t happen. The green movement is just too big to fail, to borrow a familiar phrase.

As a laymen, weather has always interested me. I study clouds. My arthritic back tells me of the approach of low-pressure systems. I closely monitor humidity levels and am signed up for all manner of weather reports and special notices on my computer. In other words, I’m a weather junkie.

And over the years, this business of posting a mock-up of the jet stream on the evening news weather report has had me puzzled. Last winter and this spring, the jet stream supposedly had this nasty habit of keeping Maine cold, while allowing more seasonable and sometimes even balmy air to pass just below us. That persistent dip in the jet stream was anathema to us here in Maine.

But, I always wondered, what influences the jet stream? How can this invisible river of air hold so many people captive for so long? What makes the jet stream do what it does? I knew the supposed answer was “global warming,” but that never rang true with me. The truth had to be more prosaic.

As it turns out, the jet stream’s influence is less than previously thought. Those atmospheric waves have, according to the above-cited study, a much more pronounced effect upon our climate than does the jet stream. And as per global warming, climate change or whatever politically-correct term anyone might apply to it, it is not as big a factor as it is made out to be.

So with due apologies to my auto-hating neighbor, it’s time to stop blaming my Chevy for causing droughts in Kenya and to begin to realize that we here in America have natural resources that are the envy of the world. It’s time to begin using them. It’s time the administration approves the Keystone Pipeline. It’s time to drop the bans on further exploration and it’s time to put our shoulders to the task of becoming energy independent.

Just consider all this when, as it must, the price of fuel soars. The current situation in the Middle East offers the perfect opportunity for squeezing us even more at the pumps. For those with enough money socked away so they never need work again, it’s very easy to adopt do-good philosophies. Whatever tax or rate hikes occur won’t bother these folks. But for the rest of us, rising fuel prices cause much anguish and hardship. And to think, we in America have all the resources we need right here at home. We needn’t be held to the wall every time some religious faction on the other side of the world wages war against an opposing religious faction. We have the means to break away from the hold these countries have on us. We just don’t, as of yet, have the will.

The anti-prosperity culture dislikes all forms of energy excepting for solar and wind. Oh, thermal energy, where available, is okay too. And even though those giant wind turbines kill hundreds of eagles and migrating birds of all sorts, the companies get a special dispensation to continue with their killing. But at the same time, the coal industry is getting laden with such cumbersome regulations that coal will eventually cease to be a major energy source, at least here at home. Other countries will surely continue to burn coal in ever-increasing amounts.

And here’s the dirty little secret about all the green energy sources. They don’t amount to a hill of beans. Our nation cannot survive on the miniscule amount of energy we get from solar panels and wind turbines. The good news is that while these energy forms are not yet the answer, they may well be in time. But throwing government (read that “taxpayer,” as in from your and my pockets) money at green energy companies is no solution either. The real hope lies in private industry. Allow investors, researchers and others to develop alternate energies on their own, for the purpose of making money (yes, profit is a good thing), and we well may soon have a working mix of green and natural resources fueling our economy.

So remember the news about those high-altitude waves the next time someone tries to make you feel guilty for driving two miles instead of walking or riding a bicycle. In fact, you have every right to tell them to mind their own business. Hank Williams said it best when he crooned, “If you mind your own business you’ll be busy all the time.”