To the Editor:
The Pope made headlines recently when he stated, among other things, that we have a moral obligation to act now to reduce carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. The majority of Americans agree with that direction, but what’s our path forward? Two recent news items of local interest touch on that.
The first was a letter in this paper last week by Richard Hill, quantifying the huge problem we face. Despite substantial deployments of alternative energy sources, today’s economy still depends on burning fossil fuel. We need to do better.
A good next step is the definition of CO2 reduction goals by the EPA. Because there is no one-size-fits-all way to achieve those goals, the EPA is pursuing a flexible approach in which states and regions can develop plans reflecting their individual situations if they choose. Alternatives to fossil fuels are getting more economical every year, but changing our energy mix to one significantly less carbon-intensive will take decades of concerted effort.
Change we must, but a “concerted effort” we obviously do not have. Some powerful political leaders in statehouses, Congress, and presidential campaigns oppose any EPA CO2 reduction plan. They claim the overwhelming evidence of man-made climate change is not enough, but they also seek to defund efforts to gather more.
There can be different ways to address the problem, but ignoring it will only make it worse. Please make sure your elected leaders and favorite candidates are supporting environmental policies based on the scientific evidence and not the fossil fuel industry lobby.
There is a glimmer of hope at a more individual level in a June 30 article in the New York Times by Diane Cardwell. It describes what our own College of the Atlantic is doing to teach the next generation about how humans are affecting the environment and real-world steps that can be taken today to reduce that. I hope we will learn from them.
And I hope my generation has given future ones enough time to fix the climate problems we are leaving them.