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Guest Column: We need more sensible solutions on climate change

I keep hearing that politicians have all the answers to solving climate issues. Let’s get sensible. Spending trillions on supposed solutions is not the answer. Please don’t let politicians hijack a valid cause to perpetuate their party and ultimately decide out future. 

There are certainly issues regarding our climate so don’t say I’m a climate denier. I’m not. I just don’t want to see our taxpayer dollars being flushed down the drain to pay for so-called solutions that really won’t fix the problem. I’ll just talk about three that are constantly in the news as the solutions to climate change. They are electric cars, solar and wind. In these cases, the cure is worse than the disease. As you will see below, they are supposedly saving one environmental issue and creating another.

First, right now, if every car was electric, our current grid couldn’t handle the demand. Don’t be fooled by the electric car hype. Until we come up with a battery that doesn’t require so many natural resources to build, very expensive electric vehicles are not 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 Chile’s Salar de Atacama, mining has caused the region to lose 65% of its water. This impacts local farmers, who rely on agriculture and cattle for their livelihoods and now need to get the water from somewhere else. In addition, other components of the battery are strip mined and that’s not pretty either. Also, electric car batteries weigh about 1,000 pounds and have a finite life. Where do we dispose of them with all their toxic ingredients? One more thing, in the event of a massive power failure due to a storm, how would people evacuate low lying areas when their car battery dies and leaves them stranded on the road or unable to leave their homes?

Second, solar is unreliable. Look at California’s rolling blackouts. Most of our solar panels are made in China and the power used in production comes mostly from coal-fired generation plants. Certainly not good for the environment. They don’t last forever so where do we dispose of them as they contain toxic chemicals like silicone tetrachloride. 

Third, like solar, wind is unreliable. Same rolling blackout problems. There are many solid cases against wind such as destroying fisheries, bird kills and disrupting sea creature migration. Each turbine requires 1.5 acres. In order to power New York City, as an example, you would need 57,000 acres. How much would we need to power the USA and all of that land would have to be cleared removing huge amount of trees that clean our air of CO2, a greenhouse gas. In addition, they need lots of oil to stay lubricated and the turbine blades don’t last forever and disposing of them, some as long as a 747 wing, is a problem. Transporting them to landfills or other places to dispose of them uses energy from fossil fuel.

There are many more matters that need to be addressed before we let politicians, most of whom have never had a real job, decide our future. We need innovation! There needs to be significant research in alternative power sources like fusion and hydrogen. In the interim, there must be an effort to add nuclear reactors to the grid. The newer reactors like TerraPower are clean, safe and efficient and will use the spent rods sitting in nuclear waste dumps. Nuclear is safe. We have nuclear subs and aircraft carriers operating safely all over the world. There were only three reactor accidents since the inception of nuclear power generation; Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima, and all of those were older reactors. 

Most critical, the elimination of natural gas is a pipe dream. We need that fuel now and when better more reliable energy sources are available, as a backup. It’s clean and safe and can be made cleaner. Same with other fossil fuels. Hastily moving to unreliable new energy sources is a recipe for disaster that will impact all of us. 

And another very important thought: plant tons of trees. It’s nature’s way of cleaning up our precious atmosphere.

The author lives in East Marion.