To solve climate crisis, U.S. should lead
To the editor:
In a letter to the editor published in the March 25, 2020, edition of the Island Reporter, Mr. Bielfelt wrote a tired statement that just is not true. It is the one that climate change deniers always seem to use, that China and India are not doing enough. It reminds me of the Bible verse where Jesus reminds the man to first take the “beam” out of his own eye, and then he will see the “mote” in his neighbor’s eye. Truly that is the case here. We should be the leader here! But first, a bit of good news! Although the current administration has tried to pull us out of the Paris Climate Accord, we are still in. We have until the day after the next presidential election to get back in. So this makes 2020 a watershed year. Will we be a pariah among nations or not? The choice is in our hands.
Seriously, shouldn’t the richest and most able country on earth be the leader in using renewable energy? Don’t we deserve clean air, water and land? Don’t we love our wild animals, or are we so wedded to fossil fuels we can’t see what is happening? We know coal is on the way out, and not a moment too soon, really. Coal ash has toxic chemicals such as aluminum, boron, mercury, arsenic and chromium, a chemical stew that can cause several kinds of cancer, asthma, lung scarring and birth defects. In short, so many problems that we can prevent when we go to renewables! But do we know that methane, produced from fracking, is much more destructive and harmful to our health than even the CO2 produced by using fossil fuels? Over 84 times worse over 20 years, according to Fact Check.Org. And, in addition, fracking is a threat to our water supplies, as well as causing potential earthquakes.
Let’s go back to what China and India are doing. Both countries are on track to overachieve their Paris commitments! (Reuters) China installed the largest solar power plant in Gansu in Asia. But, we are also making progress. Texas, for example, has a lot of wind energy and some utilities give free electricity at night because of the surplus! The Northern Indiana Public Service Company currently produces 65 percent of its electricity from coal, but plans to close all coal plants by 2028 – that will save its customers $4 billion. You see, renewables are on track to save, not only our lives, but our money! Even the Coal Mining Museum in Kentucky changed to solar in 2017 because it saves them from $8,000 to $10,000 in electricity costs per year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated that 15 GW of coal plants were shut down in former President Barack Obama’s first four years, but 20 GW were closed during President Donald Trump’s. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is growing its renewable portfolio while we continue to delay. Fifty-three percent of new capacity in China was from solar and wind, 65 percent in India and a whopping 80 percent in Europe! In 2018, renewables grew 49 percent in our country.
Lastly, I really must talk about particulate matter – the elephant in the room! Those tiny particles are emitted from electrical production; cars, trucks and buses; industry; as well as some natural sources. They can cause reduced lung function, chronic bronchitis and premature death over the long term. Short-term exposure can aggravate lung disease; cause asthma attack; increase respiratory issues and cause bronchitis or heart attacks for people with heart disease. However, it is the ones that we can work to control by using cleaner sources of energy such as electric cars, trucks and buses and renewable energy to power our homes and businesses. We can reinstate inspections of our cars, trucks and buses as one simple and needed solution. After all, we deserve to live healthy lives, don’t we?
Some recommended sources: “Drawdown” by Paul Hawken and “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.
Lee County Chapter Climate Reality
Climate Reality Leadership Corps