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Op–Ed by Michael Shapiro: What kind of planet do we want to live on?

ss9 3 GND Michael Shapiro photo

By Michael Shapiro

Re: Alan Greenberg's Aug. 27 Op-Ed attempting to eviscerate the so-called Green New Deal was highly exaggerated and far from truthful or accurate. I was amazed at how much power and influence he claims the Green New Deal seems to have. Mr. Greenberg also neglects to mention that Europeans are already moving much more rapidly in climate policy and carbon reduction than we here in the United States.

Mr. Greenberg was correct that energy densities of renewables are much lower than fossil-fuel-sourced energy. But he neglected to state that the infrastructure bill just passed in the House has lots of funding for nuclear, biofuels, carbon capture and sequestration and that it was supported and passed by a wide coalition of Democrats, not only the proponents of the Green New Deal.   

China is building more coal plants to increase its production of exportable goods. If we stopped buying more and more Chinese-made products, they'd need far less energy.

Coal-fired power plants — even those fitted with sophisticated filtration — still produce air and water pollution at unsustainable levels. Wastewater from coal processing is highly toxic. Mr. Greenberg opposes campaigns to shut down oil pipelines and construction, even in the face of the horrid factual record of pipeline ruptures killing wildlife and endangering human populations. Mr. Greenberg doesn't even bother to address natural gas and the ongoing genuine dangers they present.

Progress is already being made domestically on new technologies to ensure that wind-turbine blades are more recyclable. And I've no idea what Mr. Greenberg is talking about when he mentions "sacrifices" associated with the Paris Climate Accord. And why is he comparing the United States with China and India? That makes no sense whatsoever. And why aren't we making more batteries here? Apparently, because U.S. industry doesn't yet see enough profit in manufacturing them here! China is far more modest in its profit expectations than American corporations. And in that, the United States is its own worst enemy.

Mr. Greenberg doesn't make any compelling connections between the Green New Deal's policy goals and the end of the United States as a world power. He certainly doesn't explain what he means by "world power." Burning more fossil energy and creating more and more toxic pollution doesn't make a nation a world power. The United States still consumes more energy and materials per capita than nearly any other nation! Everyone acknowledges that fossil-fuel-generated energy emissions are highly poisonous and a major source of climate change.   

The planet is warming and we're witnessing far more disruptions in weather-related catastrophes forcing more and more population centers to be dislocated. Hello, Hurricane Ida!  These climate disruptions create more pressure on bigger cities, resulting in a greater critical shortage of water and housing. If we continue burning more fossil fuels, the quality of our planet's environment will continue to degrade more rapidly and this will — in turn — only add to our adverse change in weather patterns.  

It seems apparent that the most important questions we must ask ourselves are: What kind of planet do we want to live on? What kind of quality of life do we want? And how does that intersect with the United States as a world power? Perhaps a world power in terms of having the highest quality of life wouldn't be so bad. What do you think?

— Michael J. Shapiro of Ojai is on the CFROG (Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas) Advisory Board.

 

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