Coastal drilling mortgages future of generations
The point of your Jan. 10 editorial “Drill, baby, drill” is that opening coastal waters to oil drilling is a positive thing, making the United States more energy independent and keeping oil prices low.
The major points of this editorial may be valid, as increased oil production can improve our energy independence and provide some short-term boosts to the economy. However, there is no mention of the environmental and economic costs of this policy. These are no longer nebulous long-term predictions, but are occurring right now and steadily getting worse. Fossil fuel companies are effectively getting a massive subsidy, as the cost of climate change mitigation is shifted to government and consumers. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is now over 400 parts per million and increasing, resulting in heating of the atmosphere, increased ocean temperatures and sea level rise. This has led to increased storm surges, stronger hurricanes and increased rainfall. Plans are already being made for relocation of low-lying communities, and island nations are at risk. Economic costs of last year’s hurricanes and wildfires are estimated at over $300 billion in the United States alone. While climate change alone did not cause these events, it is widely accepted to have intensified the effects.
Despite the efforts of the current administration to discourage any dialogue on climate change, there is some progress being made. Internationally, nearly all other countries in the world continue to support the Paris Accord. In the U.S., many states and communities have their own carbon reduction programs. Also, the Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives has recently expanded to 66 members. This is a bipartisan group consisting of equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, dedicated to finding economically viable solutions to climate change. (There are currently no members from Arkansas.) Various forms of a carbon tax have been proposed, including a carbon fee and dividend program, which would encourage use of renewable energy while protecting consumers from price increases. Variations of this approach have been successfully implemented elsewhere in the world.
In summary, the “Drill, baby, drill” approach mortgages our future and puts the responsibility of repairing climate change damage on our children and grandchildren. They will be well justified in blaming our generation.
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