To the Editor: In the meantime

To the Editor:

Tom Rolfes’ Dec. 31 Viewpoint (Basic principles) presented an incorrect view of climate change and its impacts. If anyone is interested in what climate scientists actually say, I recommend the government’s latest (fourth) National Climate Assessment. Briefly, the NCA says that today’s rapid climate change is caused primarily by human activity, and it is already causing serious harm to life on this planet that will only get worse until we stop burning fossil fuels. That will take decades.

Stopping climate change and harmful pollutants is vital but not the only reason to move away from fossil fuels; economics are also important. More and more, utility companies are finding it profitable to invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels and it’s easy to see why: wind and sunshine are free. The financial markets tell us that the future is with renewable energy, not fossil fuels. Since 2012, oil and gas companies have lost half their value while the S&P 500 has gained about 150 percent. Tesla is up over 1,000 percent in just the last 18 months and is now worth more than almost all the legacy car companies combined.

Based on a quick literature survey, the most promising roles for hydrogen in the future appear to be in hard-to-electrify applications, such as in cement and steel industries or for powering ocean-going vessels and aircraft. But those aren’t driving MDI’s energy needs. Not only is hydrogen expensive to produce, it is also very expensive to create the nationwide network of stations necessary before vehicle makers produce hydrogen-powered vehicles in quantity. According to the DOE web site, the hydrogen retail station nearest to MDI is in Connecticut. It doesn’t appear that hydrogen will have a significant role on MDI for 10 years or more.

I wish Tom and his Island Hydrogen Team the best in studying how hydrogen might be part of the future movement away from fossil fuels. It’s good to stay on top of ideas that might become practical someday. In the meantime, I’m going to support groups like A Climate To Thrive in helping residents and business on MDI use today’s proven technologies to drive down their costs and improve reliability while helping our environment. And helping provide jobs for Mainers.

John Fehlauer

Mount Desert and San Antonio, Texas

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