The Washington Post Sunday
The changing climate
The Dec. 12 op-ed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), “States can lead on climate change,” pointed to Mr. Northam’s proposal to “reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.” According to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, this initiative would cut carbon by about 8 million tons per year (MTY) by 2030. However, Mr. Northam is also supporting the construction of two massive fracked-gas pipelines, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, that, respectively, will lead to the emission of 30 MTY and 40 MTY. That’s an 8 MTY decrease vs. a 70 MTY increase.
For states to lead the way on climate change, they have to reduce carbon pollution, not increase it.
Glen Besa, North Chesterfield, Va. The writer is a former director of the Virginia Chapter
of the Sierra Club.
I was delighted to read the call to action from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R). As a Virginian who worries every day about terrifying climate reports, I am grateful that my governor is working to reduce emissions and mitigate climate consequences, particularly given the failure of presidential leadership on these issues. These are important steps.
But, the governors should acknowledge that the construction of gas pipelines, including the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines shepherded through Virginia by Mr. Northam and the Potomac River pipeline boosted by Mr. Hogan, will tie both states to a future dependent on fracked natural gas, which scientists (and these governors) have agreed contributes significantly to climate change.
I hope the governors will reconsider their support for these pipelines as they “get to work.” It would be hypocritical to claim the mantle of leadership on the environment when they’re simultaneously fasttracking fossil-fuel infrastructure.
Beth Kreydatus, Henrico
Two Dec. 11 front-page articles — “At global climate conference, U.S. officials tout fossil fuels” and “Meet our Bottomless Pinocchio for repetitive, knowingly false claims” — highlighted the president’s potential legacy. President Trump’s narcissistic belief that he is the greatest president can be shocking in the breadth of its ignorance and audacity. However, this president will go down in history as doing something that no other leader of the nation can claim. At a pivotal moment in history, he will have willfully and criminally ignored the last possible opportunity to save Earth from the mass destruction wrought by climate change. When our children’s children survey the diminished world left to them, there is one name that will be remembered as morally responsible, and that name is Donald Trump. His place in history will be secure.
Jeanne Connelly, Washington
Regarding the Dec. 11 front-page article “At global climate conference, U.S. officials tout fossil fuels”:
Did the top White House adviser on energy and climate really say that “no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity . . . in pursuit of environmental sustainability”? So is President Trump planning on building a bubble over Mar-a-Lago so he can sit peacefully while the rest of us succumb to environmental degradation? Edward Basile, Washington
Climate scientists, concerned about the portentous trends they were seeing by the mid-1960s, shared their findings with the American Petroleum Institute and with then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. Neither took much action. But the API made a fateful decision to try to counter the scientists’ findings. Rather than be forthright, the API chose to devote a great deal of money and personnel to the cause of a disinformation campaign, whose function it was to deny to the American public any knowledge that there might be danger to the environment or to health because of the burning of petroleum products. This subversion of the truth continues to the present day.
Did the API believe the climate scientists’ conclusions? Yes. For example, API members began installing their ocean oil-drilling platforms at such a height as to anticipate the scientists’ predicted rising seas.
A responsible approach, beginning in the 1960s, on the part of the API would have been to gradually phase in renewable-energy development while phasing out oil and gas technologies.
Instead, after just a few decades, we now live in a world on the brink of global catastrophe.
Stan Pearson, Newport News
The Dec. 12 front-page article “Arctic has lost 95% of its oldest ice, study finds” rightly sounded the alarm bells about how the loss of Arctic ice will trigger the acceleration of global warming. Unfortunately, the article incorrectly stated that Arctic ice restoration solutions are too “radical” for serious consideration. In fact, this year, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) introduced a resolution stating that Congress is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy climate for future generations. While this resolution has not been approved, I expect that the 116th Congress will take action on climate restoration, making up for our failure to act.
As a public-health physician, I believe our failing planetary health requires bold political action to accelerate the deployment of Arctic ice restoration approaches. It is rational to invest in research and deployment of feasible solutions such as Ice911’s reflective sand method and other known innovations such as marine cloud brightening, ice-thickening technologies, etc. We can ensure that Arctic ice is restored so that we can leave our planet habitable for future generations. The time for “radical” action to become “rational” action is now. Paul Zeitz, Bethesda