To the Editor: Hydropower 

To the Editor: 

While it is not difficult to support the use of hydroelectric power when possible in Maine, it is disappointing to see what our youngsters are being taught about the cause of climate change. 

One has to be careful about challenging specific statements in Sylvie Holmes’ letter of Jan. 6, but it is important to clarify the cause and effects so the efforts involved don’t make it worse than before. 

Clearly, if hydropower is available, or can be made available inexpensively, then by all means it should be utilized. But, while there is some sea level increase, it is so small our land isn’t really “sinking underwater.” I think the most realistic prediction of sea level rise is in the neighborhood of 1.0 +/- 0.3 mm/year over the last 160 years (from around 1841 to 2002). While there is some variation over this figure, that amounts to around 80 mm between now and 2100, or a little over 3 inches. Hardly worth taking any real action, unless your coastal land is sinking, because perhaps too much water is being taken out of underground aquifers, like in Florida, and parts of our East Coast like Norfolk. That requires a different fix. 

Further, I think a study of hurricanes will show that despite the bad ones we have had recently, there are many fewer severe hurricanes than previously.  

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas, and at low levels (less than 20 ppm) in the atmosphere, increasing amounts did have an impact on global warming. However, the effect of increasing CO2 concentrations at our current levels has a reducing impact on temperatures in the atmosphere. It’s called a “reverse logarithmic relationship,” which means the first 20 ppm of CO2 had a +1.6 degree impact on temperature. But now, at 400+ ppm, the impact for every 20+ ppm is less than approximately 0.01 degree. 

And we actually need more CO2 in the atmosphere because increasing CO2 results in more greening of the earth’s surface and more plant/food growth for our increasing world population. That’s proven. 

Again, while the estimated energy potential of the waves along the U.S. coastline may be the number estimated in the letter, we need to get real figures about what would really be possible to deliver in actual mechanical systems, and at what cost. 

Fossil fuels are NOT “polluting our environment and causing climate change.” And “renewables,” like solar and wind, are not cost-efficient alternatives to our electric power supply. Not saying they won’t work, but it’s too costly, and if relied upon to the elimination of coal or natural gas, or even nuclear power generation, will have catastrophic impacts on our electrical grid systems as we have already seen in parts of our country, and other parts of the world. 

There is no climate emergency and, yes, climate change is happening, as it has for millions of years in the past. Getting rid of fossil fuels, unless some more efficient/lower cost source is developed, isn’t worth the effort or the cost. 

Tom Rolfes 


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