Guest column: We need more sensible solutions on climate change
I keep hearing that politicians have all the answers to solve climate problems. Let’s be reasonable. Spending trillions on supposed solutions is not the answer. Please don’t let politicians hijack a worthwhile cause to perpetuate their party and ultimately decide the future.
There are definitely issues regarding our climate, so don’t say I’m a climate denier. I’m not. I just don’t want our taxpayers’ money to be thrown away to pay for so-called solutions that won’t really solve the problem. I’m just going to talk about three that constantly make the news as solutions to climate change. They are electric, solar and wind powered cars. In these cases, the cure is worse than the disease. As you will see below, they are meant to save one environmental problem and create another.
First, today, if every car were electric, our current network could not meet demand. Don’t be fooled by the electric car hype. Until we find a battery that doesn’t require as many natural resources to build, super-expensive electric vehicles aren’t the answer. It takes 500,000 gallons of water to harvest one ton of lithium. This creates a lot of pressure in local communities living in nearby areas. For example, in the Salar de Atacama in Chile, mining has caused the region to lose 65% of its water. This is impacting local farmers, who depend on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods and now have to source water elsewhere. Also, other battery components are mined in the open and that’s not pretty either. Additionally, electric car batteries weigh around 1,000 pounds and have a limited lifespan. Where to throw them with all their toxic ingredients? One last thing, in the event of a massive power outage due to a storm, how would people evacuate low areas when their car battery drains and leaves them stranded on the road or unable to leave their homes?
Second, solar is unreliable. Look at the power outages in California. Most of our solar panels are made in China and the energy used in production comes mainly from coal-fired power plants. Certainly not good for the environment. They don’t last forever so where do you dispose of them as they contain toxic chemicals like silicone tetrachloride.
Third, like solar, wind is unreliable. Same power failure issues. There are many strong cases against the wind, such as destroying fisheries, killing birds, and disrupting the migration of sea creatures. Each turbine requires 1.5 acres. To power New York City, for example, you would need 57,000 acres. How much would we need to power the United States and all that land would have to be cleared by removing a huge amount of trees that purify our air of CO2, a greenhouse gas. Plus, they need a lot of oil to stay lubricated and the turbine blades don’t last forever and their disposal, some as long as a 747 wing, is a hassle. Transporting them to landfills or other places for disposal uses energy from fossil fuels.
There are many more issues to settle before we let politicians, most of whom have never had real jobs, decide our future. We need innovation! There must be significant research on alternative energy sources like fusion and hydrogen. In the meantime, efforts should be made to add nuclear reactors to the network. New reactors like TerraPower are clean, safe and efficient and will use used rods that are found in nuclear waste landfills. Nuclear is safe. We have nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers operating safely all over the world. There have been only three reactor accidents since the start of nuclear energy production; Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima, and all of those reactors were older.
Above all, the elimination of natural gas is a pipe dream. We need this fuel now and when better, more reliable sources of energy become available, as backup. It is clean and safe and can be made cleaner. Same with other fossil fuels. Hastily switching to new, unreliable energy sources is a recipe for disaster that will affect us all.
And another very important thought: plant tons of trees. It’s nature’s way of cleaning our precious atmosphere.
The author lives in East Marion.