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

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