To the Editor:
Tom Rolfes’ recent letter on climate change echoes similar views held by a small but influential segment of our population led by some corporations, think tanks and wealthy individuals associated with the fossil fuel industry, plus the majority of congressional Republicans, including Maine’s Bruce Poliquin. It’s hard to tell if that’s Donald Trump’s view as well since he claims both that it is a hoax and that it is threatening his golf course in Ireland.
One thing this segment does not do is accurately represent climate science. Scientists tell us that while earth’s climate has changed in the distant past due to a variety of non-human causes, it’s changing today due to human activity, especially increased CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels. There have been no credible scientific arguments disputing this. That includes Rolfes’ references.
You don’t need a climate scientist to tell you the climate is changing, to paraphrase Bob Dylan. With record high temperatures, rising sea levels washing over Miami streets, ocean acidification harming the shellfish industry in the Northwest, bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef, mountain glaciers retreating, Arctic sea ice melting and plants and animals migrating to higher elevations and latitudes, it is clear that the continued burning of fossil fuels increases the likelihood of severe and irreversible impacts to people and the environment.
Will moving the world’s economy gradually to non-carbon technologies over the next few decades mean disaster as some fossil fuel advocates claim? Of course not! Renewable energy technologies are already close to economic parity with fossil fuels. And with continued innovation, perhaps coupled with eliminating longstanding fossil fuel subsidies, the transition should be as doable as other major technology shifts.
So what can you do? First, get your climate science from reputable sources, such as NASA, NOAA and the U.N.’s IPCC.
Second, engage local experts on the practical aspects of non-carbon energy technologies. I’d start with a group called “A Climate to Thrive” (www.aclimatetothrive.org), which was formed recently with a goal of developing plans to eliminate Mount Desert Island’s dependence on fossil fuels by 2030.
Third, demand that your political representatives develop reasonable plans to phase out fossil fuels.
We can mitigate the most severe risks of climate change, but the longer we delay, the harder it will be.