Can The World End Air Pollution?

The NY Times reported that a Trump plan to open nine million acres to drilling and mining threatened the sage grouse. Apparently the birds are nesting on “some of the richest deposits [of resources] in the American West.” Wikipedia says: the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is the largest grouse (a bird species) in North America. Its range is sagebrush country in the western United States and southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Its population is declining and in danger of extinction.

The world is at a crossroads. Are we going to wean ourselves away from fossil fuel, which is polluting our planet, or not? Using the sage grouse to combat environmental abuse is absurd.

If America needs more access to oil deposits to remain oil independent, a few rare birds should not deter it. If America is determined to contribute to the efforts to decrease the effects of fossil fuel, it must be brave and take unprecedented action.

The fact is that too many other developed(ing) nations are not able or willing to stay the course and decrease fossil fuel usage. Most are signatories to the Paris Climate Change Accords. The hypocrisy of these countries is staggering. They sign agreements, which call for prescribed reductions in pollution, and don’t enforce them.

President Trump rightly walked away from the sham Accords. He never said he would relax important and necessary standards. Rather he wanted to point out that few countries are doing their part in the process to clean the air.

China and India are experiencing their own industrial revolutions. Manufacturing facilities are popping up throughout these countries. Currently the most efficient fuel to operate these facilities is coal. The future impact will be significant. Will either of these countries forego economic progress for less pollution? It’s unlikely.

In some cases the issues are more systemic. In China millions of people use coal to heat their homes. Without it many would freeze in winter. This application of coal is highly toxic. There are no alternative sources of energy for a great number of people.

The real answer is technology. Unfortunately too many companies have too much invested in current energy sources that are responsible for pollution.

For years domestic car companies delayed the development of electric engines. Retooling to produce clean air electric vehicles and eschewing high profit, gas-guzzling autos would have depressed the earnings of these companies. Recently there has been some movement towards electric motors, but it has not been fast enough.

New and clean technologies have all sorts of issues. Nuclear is clean, but facilities are expensive, take a long time to erect and operating problems can be catastrophic, especially when citizens are threatened by radioactive leaks.

Solar and wind power have been fraught with many types of delays and mismanagement. They are, unfortunately, not large enough to make a dent in fossil fuel usage.

The real target should be the automobile. More gas users are overrunning the globe. In New York City and most other large cities, thousands of Uber, Lyft and Juno call cars have over populated our streets. How many of them run on electric energy? Local governments with foresight would have required these call car companies use electric cars.

The stakes are high. If the world is going to move at a snail’s pace regarding fossil fuel, then new sources of it will be needed to keep transportation moving. We should not allow the sage grouse to stymie efforts to find new energy sources in any case. Living without these birds will be easier than living with a shortage of fuel to operate our cars, like in the 1970s.

 

 

One thought on “Can The World End Air Pollution?

  1. Great commentary, on point. Would be very easy for San Fran and NYC to make all taxis and / or ride hailing company’s go electric.

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