Time to tackle things on cli­mate change ‘to do’ list

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Jo­dine May­berry Times Colum­nist Jo­dine May­berry Colum­nist Jo­dine May­berry is a re­tired ed­i­tor, long­time jour­nal­ist and Delaware County res­i­dent. Her col­umn ap­pears ev­ery Fri­day. You can reach her at jodine­may­[email protected] com­cast.net.

Cli­mate Change Part II, In which I promised to talk about so­lu­tions:

One of the things I for­got to say in my Thanks­giv­ing col­umn that we should be grate­ful for here in Delaware County is the high qual­ity of our pub­lic wa­ter and sewer sys­tems and our abun­dance of clean drink­ing wa­ter.

This is not the case in many re­gions of the United States or the world.

In eastern Ken­tucky’s Mar­tin County, for ex­am­ple, wa­ter runs brown from the taps and smells like diesel fuel be­cause of de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, leaky pipes that can no longer main­tain pres­sure to keep con­tam­i­nants out.

Drink­ing wa­ter is at the very top of the list of re­sources we need to proac­tively pro­tect all around the world be­cause hu­mans can­not live with­out wa­ter.

Can we do any­thing about cli­mate change or is it too late?

The win­dow is slid­ing shut but we can still get our fingers un­der the sash.

Here in Amer­ica we’ve done some back­slid­ing. We were well on our way with hy­brid and elec­tric cars 15 years ago, until gas got cheap and ev­ery­one de­cided SUVs were the way to go.

It does not help that we have a will­fully ig­no­rant pres­i­dent who is pulling us out of the Paris Ac­cords and rac­ing to open up the Arc­tic Na­tional Wildlife Refuge and the Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf to oil drilling.

He is also do­ing his darn­d­est to re­v­erse decades of U.S. clean air and wa­ter reg­u­la­tions and is now propos­ing new rules that would gut the Clean Air Act.

Trump’s hor­ri­ble lead­er­ship on this is­sue is cost­ing us and the rest of the world valu­able time.

But cli­mate change will go on long af­ter Trump is gone (soon, please) and his true be­liev­ers have re­treated to their lo­cal wa­ter­ing holes in their gas-guz­zling SUVs and trucks to “de­bate” the is­sue.

The good news is that many coun­tries, lo­cal and state gov­ern­ments, pub­lic util­i­ties and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups are work­ing to deal with their own lo­cal air and wa­ter is­sues, which nec­es­sar­ily means they are work­ing to abate the ef­fects of global warm­ing.

Mi­ami, Fla., is rais­ing its busiest road­ways to min­i­mize the sunny day flood­ing it now rou­tinely ex­pe­ri­ences from tidal surges.

In El Paso, Texas, the Rio Grande River has all but dried up, and the city of 700,000 is now build­ing a “closed loop” plant to pu­rify and re­cy­cle sewer wa­ter into drink­ing wa­ter.

And pri­vate in­dus­try is jump­ing in when it sees there is a dol­lar to be made (thus cre­at­ing jobs as well).

In North Car­olina, Smith­field Foods and Do­min­ion En­ergy are launch­ing a $125 mil­lion, 10-year joint ven­ture to turn pig ma­nure into elec­tric­ity by cap­tur­ing and burn­ing meth­ane, a pow­er­ful green­house gas.

That’s nice, but it is prob­a­bly cost­ing the fed­eral, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments much more than $125 mil­lion right now to clean up the lakes, rivers and reser­voirs that were over­run with pig ma­nure and coal ash washed out of la­goons in Hur­ri­cane Florence.

In July an Ir­ish-Cana­dian elec­tri­cal gen­er­at­ing com­pany placed the first tur­bine in an arm of the Bay of Fun­day to har­ness its pow­er­ful tidal surges to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity.

There are 19 profit-mak­ing de­salin­iza­tion plants up and run­ning in Texas to take the salt out of brack­ish ground­wa­ter. The once oil-rich Texas pro­duces the most wind power of any U.S. state.

Penn­syl­va­nia could learn from Texas. We should have had a wind tur­bine on ev­ery moun­tain top by now and only pol­i­tics pre­vents it.

In­stead of with­draw­ing GM’s sub­si­dies for elec­tric cars, we need to do ev­ery­thing we can to elec­trify ev­ery­thing and then to use re­new­able en­ergy to power the gen­er­at­ing plants.

In­stead of sub­sid­ing the oil and gas in­dus­tries to the tune of many tens of bil­lions of dol­lars ev­ery year, we need to get away from fos­sil fuel al­most com­pletely.

We’re go­ing to have to radically in­crease re­new­able en­ergy so that wind and so­lar are sup­ply­ing 85 per­cent of global elec­tric­ity by 2050, or ear­lier.

That’s a real hard sell to the work­ers build­ing pipe­lines through Delaware County and stor­age tanks at Mar­cus Hook, but it’s go­ing to hap­pen be­cause, for us to sur­vive as a species, it must.

Yes, tech­no­log­i­cal change costs jobs, but it also gen­er­ates them.

We are go­ing to have to de­velop tech­nol­ogy to not only di­min­ish the amount of green­house gases be­ing emit­ted into the at­mos­phere and oceans but also to cap­ture and re­move car­bon diox­ide and other green­house gases from our bio­sphere.

We’re go­ing to have to stop coun­tries like Brazil and In­done­sia from cut­ting downs their rain forests – the lungs of the world – for palm oil and cat­tle.

There will be taxes and there will be pain and maybe our life­style won’t be so lav­ish, but the al­ter­na­tive is un­think­able.

U.S. tax­pay­ers must con­tinue to pro­vide re­lief to vic­tims of hur­ri­canes, wild­fires, tor­na­does and floods.

But we must also re­form the na­tional flood in­sur­ance pro­gram so we are not con­stantly pay­ing to re­build the same house on the same bar­rier is­land or flood plain.

And we ur­gently need to re­build our elec­tri­cal grid.

Noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble. We just need the political will to do it.

We’re go­ing to have lead from be­hind.

Over the last two elec­tions, our politi­cians have not wanted to talk about cli­mate change.

We’re go­ing to have to in­sist loudly and re­peat­edly that our lead­ers make it a to pri­or­ity.

We had the political will to es­tab­lish the Ten­nessee Val­ley Au­thor­ity to elec­trify Amer­ica’s ru­ral ar­eas dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion.

We put a man on the moon.

We tack­led acid rain with a cap and trade pro­gram and re­paired the hole in the ozone layer by ban­ning cer­tain hy­dro­car­bons.

I have faith that we will do what it takes to curb the worst ef­fects of cli­mate change, if for no other rea­son than be­cause we sim­ply have no choice.

We just can’t leave it on the bot­tom of the “to do” list much longer.


Lay­ing pipe for the Mariner East 2 pipe­line project to de­liver liq­uid gases to a fa­cil­ity in Mar­cus Hook is not help­ing the cli­mate change is­sue.

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