The Climate Cliff: It Is Real And It Is Here
What do Sherry Vargas of Pennsylvania, Amee Ellsworth of Colorado and Stephen Brock of Texas have in common? The water flowing from their faucets catches fire. They all live in areas where fracking has been or is being done.
The Scientific American reports that in 2010 contaminants resulting from oil and gas drilling buried deep in the earth bubbled to the surface in a West Los Angeles dog park. In Oklahoma and Louisiana, drilling wastes have likewise escaped what the oil and gas industry assumed was a safe repository for the poisons injected at fracking sites. And in South Florida, partly treated sewage from 20 disposal sites leaked into aquifers that may one day supply drinking water to Miami.
But according to industry people, it’s no big thing, no need to worry about ground water contamination—and that fire from the faucet? It’s just a hoax perpetrated by liberals and anyone who tells you to worry is being an alarmist. Besides, we need the “clean” energy of natural gas.
But natural gas isn’t clean. It’s just cleaner than oil.
The assurances that fracking is safe hold about as much water as the fiction spun by the oil industry that the Deep Water Horizon well was safe. From April 20 until July 15, 2010 when the well was finally capped, approximately 5 million barrels of oil total was released as well as about 100 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day. It was announced today that drilling company Transocean will plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and pay a $1.4 billion fine, and back in November, BP settled a criminal case against them for $4.5 billion.
Then there’s “clean” coal, an oxymoron if ever there was one. True, there have been technologies developed to capture and sequester the filthy emissions. And just where do they plan to store the captured emissions? Just like with fracking waste, they’ll bury it deep within the earth.
It is time to face the truth. We are pillaging the planet in search of fossil fuels that are causing the single most important challenge we face: climate change. Not only that, we are giving tax subsidies to companies that are raking in record profits. And in the end, all of these energy sources are finite and will one day be gone.
The National Intelligence Report recently released findings that are no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Demand for food, water and energy will grow by 35, 40 and 50 percent respectively by the year 2030, yet availability will not keep pace with the expanding demand. The report states that climate change will be a driving factor.
FACT: 97 percent of scientists agree that human activity is having a damaging effect on this planet.
Because we are so small in relation to the size of our planet, it is easy to make the assumption that human activity cannot have a deleterious effect on Mother Earth. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
PBS recently aired a brilliant documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns titled The Dust Bowl, which chronicled the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. Due to human activity, 150,000 square miles of Mother Earth was reduced to a parched, dusty patch of useless soil and it took decades to realize a less than complete recovery. Part of the problem then, as it is now, was financial. Even in the midst of what was obviously a disaster, people doggedly clung to the notion that things would get better if only they produced more of the very thing that was causing the problem. They believed it because their livelihoods depended on it. They were wrong. When compared to the size of the earth, that relatively small patch of the United States and the time it took to decimate it should serve as a warning when it comes to viewing the ongoing climate crisis we are facing.
Like the farmers of the Dust Bowl, the naysayers of today cite the economic devastation that will surely ensue if we abandon fossil fuels in favor of alternative energies. They insist that green energy is not economically feasible for a variety of reasons, even though countries in far northern climes like Germany and Denmark are well on their way to energy independence by instituting national policies to foster the development and utilization of sustainable energy sources.
During this last election season, we heard about a lot of things, but not once did we hear a word about climate change. Only in a throw away line in his victory speech did the president mention the climate crisis.
The election is over, President Obama, and you emerged victorious because we put you there. So now it’s time to stop talking about change and really DO IT.
If Nordic countries can build infrastructure in the short term to support hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, so can we.
Instead of funding the Keystone pipeline, which will traverse the breadbasket of this country, posing a scenario for a major disaster, let’s invest in clean, renewable energy.
Stop the tax incentives to the big polluters. They don’t need the money.
We can no longer afford to keep throwing our money away on filthy energy that is endangering our people and our economy. The reasons are clear and the tally is rising. Due to unprecedented weather events, we are experiencing fires, floods, the loss of lives and the destruction of property in the billions of dollars and it is happening with regularity. Our 100-year events are now becoming commonplace and they will only get worse.
Under pressure, the Republican led House has finally begun funding efforts to deal with the massive destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy in late October. Yet there are still those in Congress who would prefer not to pony up the money to aid our fellow citizens without offsetting spending cuts, even as they continue to vote for dirty energy subsidies. Even worse, those same members are against facing the cold, hard truth that the destruction Hurricane Sandy brought to our shores was aided and abetted by The Thing That No One Wants To Talk About, that being climate change and the future dangers it poses to our citizens, to our economy and to the planet.
There is a tired argument that even if we cut our emissions to zero, other nations like China and the developing nations of the world would still be pouring CO2 into the atmosphere, so what’s the point? Remember the answer you got from you mother when your excuse was “Well, everyone else is doing it.” Just because you see other people running over a cliff doesn’t mean you should too. Perhaps by taking a leading stance on climate change, we would be able to help to change the energy practices of other countries by developing clean, affordable energy and delivery systems. We can even make a profit in the bargain. It’s a win-win.
So what’s it going to be, Mr. President? Are you going to stand up to the bullies and tell it like it is? Or are we going to continue on this backwards path to chaos and ignominy?