Letter: Burn more carbon, burn more life
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I am in disbelief at the Feb. 8 editorial page piece by Matt Kinnaman. As a biologist, I was attracted by the title "Embrace carbon, embrace life," because, of course, life is carbon based. But Kinnaman's cavalier call for ever more burning of fossil fuels should have been titled, "Burn more carbon and burn life," or certainly life as we know it.
Of course modern technology leads us to discover more fossil fuel deposits in America, and the ability to extract them. But Kinnaman is totally wrong when he triumphantly claims that this trove of fossil fuels is going to provide us with an ever-expanding economy.
It is hard to believe that we are still in climate change denial in 2014 with all the traumatic weather that different parts of the world have been experiencing over the last couple of years in particular, and with all the scientific evidence linking increasing CO2 levels, the inevitable product of burning fossil fuels, with this climate change. In 1850, CO2 levels were at 270 ppm. They are now just shy of the unprecedented level of 400 ppm. It is this increase in CO2 that is causing the dramatic changes in our climate -- stronger hurricanes bombarding our east coast, such as Hurricane Sandy, while increasing dryness threatens our cattle industry in Texas and the fruit and vegetable industry in California.
If these major issues are not enough to threaten our economy they pale in comparison to the cost of preventing increasing flooding of cities such as New Orleans, Miami, New York and Boston. It may take another 20 years for the worst of these to have their full effect, and it will take more than a century of hard work to reduce the still rising CO2 levels. I won't be around by mid-century but my grandchildren will, and I don't want them cursing my memory because my generation didn't do enough to turn this crisis around.
Kinnaman belittles what he reports as two-tenths of one percent of our energy production coming from solar energy. Shame on us! Every day, enough energy arrives on this planet to power all the world's energy needs for a year! If plants have figured out how to utilize this energy then so can we, and that is where our science and technology should be focused.
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