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Monday, March 19, 2018

The topic of climate change is no laughing matter

This and That By Avis Anderson

Reading the newspaper this evening I was disappointed to see that at a recent local public question and answer forum, one of the candidates for state representative was faced with laughter and jibes when he brought up the subject of global warming in our society.  I was not at the meeting so I cannot speak with any authority concerning the tone of the questions, but it was a legitimate comment to appear in a political debate in this day and time.  It is an issue that has been by-passed by the political candidates at the national level in this year’s debates (although perhaps there will be more in the debates to come) and deserves more attention by us all. 

The candidate talked about alternate forms of energy and was brave enough to say the words that cause many people to come out of their chairs -- the use of coal as a fuel in this country is going to come to an end.  We are going to have to find other forms of energy. I think the reason his words caused nervous laughter is that we are afraid. We think if we do not say, “We have to deal with this”, the issue will go away. If scientific knowledge concerning the environment is not a piece of fabricated discussion, a ‘boogey man’ conjured by the enemies of coal, then we need to be very afraid. And we need to be very serious about the challenge that alternate forms of energy present us.  Fossil fuels will gradually disappear and wind, solar and other sources will have to come into play.

The higher waters during the storm surge caused by Hurricane Matthew are evidence that something is changing in the nature of storms and the National Oceanic service says the storms of the future will be bigger and do more damage.  An earthquake in September in Oklahoma (5.6 on the richter scale) was linked to extensive fracking over many years. The governor has shut down 37 oil wells in the state.  So, I am glad the candidate raised the issue.  You are allowed to have your doubts concerning the level of severity, but that global warming is a fact, is a reality, that we may not discount. And fossil fuels unless better regulated have the potential to be a real hazard for human population.

The discussion on fossil fuels has been a subject for debate from the sublime to the ridiculous.  A reporter for The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2015, noted:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid knocked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s views on fossil fuels by calling Mr. McConnell himself “a lump of coal.”

Mr. Reid, who recently announced he is not seeking re-election in 2016, said he doesn’t begrudge Mr. McConnell for telling states not to go along with certain energy regulations from the Obama administration.

“He comes from a coal state,” Mr. Reid said in an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood. “I don’t mean to be mean-spirited, but he is a lump of coal. He believes that coal is the salvation of the world. I don’t believe that.”

My point is that fossil fuels, their use and abuse is a serious subject.  It is something that has gotten caught up in the congressional gridlock and has become a political issue, i.e., if you believe in global warming you are probably a Democrat and an enemy of coal; if you are think global warming is bunk you are probably a Republican and on the opposite of this debate.  It is too bad when both sides hunker down and cannot find a compromise for an issue that needs serious consideration.  Thank you, for bringing up the subject.  It was a courageous attempt at what should be a serious conversation.

Avis Anderson lives in Glendive. Her online blog can be found at www.prairienewdays.com.

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