Monday, July 15, 2019


There are literally hundreds of issues that affect our environment of which global warming is just one. The effect of non-biodegradable solid and toxic waste and other pollutants in our streams, rivers, lakes, aquafers, reservoirs and oceans is one of them. It is placing not only our potable water supply but our food supply at serious risk.  The problem has so many lethal components as to be nearly impossible to cover in anything less than multiple books and will require a significant investment to bring about even the most remedial solution. 

Air pollution is another lengthy topic deserving of all the attention it is getting by the global community.  We have been to Beijing, Mumbai, Ho Chi Min City, Rome and other major metropolitan areas where the population is so dense and use of motorized vehicles is so prevalent that pollution is literally choking the life out of the inhabitants.   I have also grown up in the suburbs of NYC and Los Angeles at a time when it looked like air pollution would win the battle.  I remember looking up from the football practice field at about 3:00PM and watching the smog roll in over the San Dimas hills into the Pomona Valley. By 4:00PM we were all wheezing and coughing and our lungs ached.  On an average summer’s day you could not even see the San Gabriel Mountains, the 5,000 foot peaks of which were less than ten miles away. People rebelled, the Sierra Club stepped up their efforts, and environmentalists sprang into action. Finally, their elected leaders did something about it.  Reasonable local, state and federal legislation and regulations were implemented over the past thirty-plus years to reverse the trends and make substantial improvement.  In that time, NO2 is down -33% and fine particulate counts have been reduced by -47%.  Both of these and ozone are all below the federal standard 
for parts per .million (PPM) most days of the year.  This shows that the deleterious effects of unchecked burning of fossil fuels can be minimized, if not reversed.  But what about global warming.

For years the most learned scientists in the field have debated whether global warming was real or imagined.  Depending on who was funding their research, the opinions ranged from potential global disaster of epic proportions to complete and utter hog wash and everything in between.  Now it seems that science has settled on some point that leans toward the former and those countries with the worst pollution problems are jumping on the pending global disaster bandwagon. 

The questions that seem to still be unanswered are, first, how long it will take for global warming to have the disastrous effects that scientists predict will eventually occur and, second, can those impacts be reversed in time.  From what I have read, and being the positive minded person I am, I believe that we can make a difference.  But, it will take a massive collaborative effort and the cost will be astronomical.  Then the questions become can we get the industrialized nations of the world to cooperate enough to come up with a comprehensive plan for change and can we, collectively, afford it. Those are questions that our national leadership must address, but for the United States I believe that it will require all Americans to be willing to change and sacrifice will be required. That sacrifice means accepting responsibility for our own carbon footprint and changing our lifestyles and habits forged over a lifetime.  This is easier said than done, of course.

We need a commitment to clean, alternative energy sources and expand those sources more rapidly than we have in the past.  Solar power, wind power, geo-thermal power and alternatives to carbon-based fuels have been around for decades, and yet these renewable energy sources represent only 12.2 % of total primary energy consumption. 

I believe private industry needs to be incentivized to invest in renewable energy.  Be that tax credits, low interest loans, or other subsidies until decent returns on investment can be obtained. Yes, profit needs to be part of the incentive for change. Higher taxes on fossil fuels are inevitable if people are going to be convinced to move to clean energy.  Development and production of hydrogen fueled cars must be encouraged and the American automobile industry must be mandated to convert from traditional fossil fuel engine production to electric and hydrogen vehicles within a reasonable period of time.  Now I am sure that some will say, hey, Jud, you are advocating for government interference with the free enterprise system and we thought you were against that.  You would be correct on both counts, but it is the only way to stimulate change fast enough to avoid the forecasted disaster.  Once manufacturers have converted and the market starts accepting these new technologies, government needs to step back out.

If you agree with my thoughts, write your congressional representative and let me know your thoughts. If you disagree, I would still like to know where you are coming from on this issue.  Our children and our grandchildren's lives depend on it.

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