Climate thoughts

To the Editor:

Citizens of Mount Desert Island need to be very careful buying into letter writer Gary Friedmann’s attempt to take on climate change on Mount Desert Island.

Let’s get some terms straight.

“Climate change” is a natural phenomenon that has been happening essentially since the beginning of time. However, if by “climate change” is meant catastrophic anthropogenic (human caused) global warming, (CAGW), being caused by increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), then let’s recognize that there has been no significant global warming for 20 years or maybe more.

So, CO2 is not a significant cause of climate change, even though the amount of CO2 emissions has in fact increased 34 percent over the last 20 year period.

So, we need to understand just what the group A Climate to Thrive is attempting to accomplish.

The big scare of “extreme weather in Maine” isn’t happening. There may be localized storms, or a dry summer like this one, but whatever is being proposed to be done for MDI will have no effect whatever on our climate. We won’t change the Arctic ice pack or have the slightest impact on it.

And the very latest data on coral reefs, for example the Great Barrier Reef, is in near pristine condition. Sea levels may be rising for local reasons, but coastlines have gained more land – 13,000 square miles in the last 30 years – than have been lost to water (7,800 square miles). The problem along the coast of Virginia is not that the sea level is rising, but that the land in the area is sinking as a result of a meteor striking the area many millions of years ago.

So, what’s the reason for the plans Friedmann has in mind? If it is to make us feel good about curbing CO2 emissions, then the numbers need to be checked very carefully. Solar panels, for example, as a source of electricity, cost more than four times the cost of natural gas.

There is really no justification for either wind or solar as a source of power for Americans. The big problem besides the capital costs and short life times for these methods is that there always will be a need for backup power from conventional sources (coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro) to make up for the times the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

For those who might be thinking of selling excess energy back to the grid at times when solar or wind output exceeds demand, that isn’t really fair to the rest of Americans. They have to continue to pay the transmission costs, etc., for the energy sold back. So, unless Friedmann is planning to provide storage for electrical energy, (which really doesn’t exist yet, at least at reasonable costs), then A Climate to Thrive might work for MDI, but it will depend on the backs of the rest of Maine.

Tom Rolfes



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