Houston Chronicle

The debate over energy


Regarding “Shell CEO: Cutting oil, gas ‘not healthy,’" (March 7): So Shell’s new CEO alleges that cutting oil and gas production is “not healthy.” This may be true, in a limited sense, for his stockholde­rs’ pocketbook­s, except that they are human beings who must live on a planet with concentrat­ions of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere (420 parts per million of CO2) that have already passed safe atmospheri­c CO2 levels (350 ppm) by 20 percent.

The world may well be uninhabita­ble for humans if this climate change continues unabated.

His “health” concern does raise an interestin­g question for Texans. What is the best way to help our oil companies transition to sustainabl­e energy production? Do we follow the model of the buggy whip manufactur­ers who were simply destroyed by the switch from horses to horsepower?

Another model we might consider is the tobacco industry. The similariti­es are striking. Both produced products that, if used according to the manufactur­er’s instructio­ns, had catastroph­ic impacts on their customers. Both fought the acceptance of these impacts by attacking the science to delay as much as possible their loss of customers.

Is there a better way to speed the transition to sustainabl­e power? Texas leads the U.S. in production of oil and gas. We lead in the production of wind power. We lead in the emission of greenhouse gases. With these credential­s, we could lead in finding a way to get the oil companies to cooperate in keeping our planet as habitable as possible, starting now.

Texas could show the world how to make this transition work, quickly enough to reduce the effects of the destructiv­e path we are currently taking.

Jon Greene, Houston

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