Letter: Don’t Gamble With Our Future

To the Editor:

It’s incredible that so many individuals deny the recent United Nation’s report on climate change, despite the evidence from 95 percent of scientific reports that human activity is the primary factor. I’m not a betting person, but approximately 9:1 odds sound pretty bleak. Those betting on the situation not getting worse won’t suffer the consequences of inactivity because they’ll not be around; they are gambling on our children’s future — not much of a gamble. Let’s put aside climate change as the reason to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are wrecking havoc. Just take coal, including tar sands. Public health concerns, including fatal accidents to miners, are real and immediate from the beginning to end; deforestation in Canada’s arboreal forests; mountain-top removal in Appalachia; the release of toxic heavy metals and acid mine drainage into our waterways; diversion of surface or ground water during the extraction process. During combustion, at least 20 toxic chemicals are released; respirable suspended particulate matter; sulfur dioxides and oxides of nitrogen.

Finally, waste management is a problem. Toxic ash has flowed into waterways. Air pollution from coal-fired power plants causes an estimated million deaths a year worldwide, to say nothing of the number of people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Fortunately, I don’t live near a coal-burning power plant, but I do live under a power plant — solar panels. They have generated more than 5 megawatts of power this past year. We need to think about our choices — the foods we buy, the type of transportation we use, etc., and about the way we waste electricity in our daily lives. Do we really need to take a hot shower for 10 minutes or leave lights on in a room no one is using? Would our standard of living be so affected? We can also choose how we generate electricity. I know many have already “gone solar.” Talk to them and find out what a good investment it is. We shouldn’t be gambling with our children’s future.

Paul Manganiello