• Home
  • Go
  • RSS
A Word from John Hofmeister
Connect with us!
Climate Change Is Not the Problem
Friday, April 16, 2010@ 10:28 PM
Author: Press

Climate Change Is Not the Problem

By JOHN HOFMEISTER

HOUSTON CHRONCLE
March 20, 2010

During my last 2000 or so conversations about climate change and global warming, since the time of Kyoto in 1997, it’s clear that the stridency and dysfunctional nature of the discussions have only gotten worse. Last month during an engagement at Rutgers Law School when I bemoaned the implications of shelving more than 100 new coal plants in the past five years and no new nuclear plants in decades on the cost of electricity for low and fixed income Americans paying the highest electricity rates in their lives, a panelist thanked God those plants were killed. He said that we shouldn’t have any coal plants when we can have offshore wind.

Misinformation, disinformation and lack of information dominate every climate change discussion I’ve been a part of. It’s worse when gifted amateurs spout out what they’ve heard or read with no real knowledge of climate science or energy’s critical importance in society. Headline deep knowledge is not enough to justify public policy decisions being made by hundreds of elected officials.

In the grander scheme of things climate change is not the issue. Climate has always changed and always will. There’s a more urgent concern that should grab every one of us by the throat and cause us to rethink what we’re doing. It’s what we breathe.

As people we’re prone to waste. We can ignore our waste and move on, clean it up, or live in it. My bottom line is we have a duty to our future generations to clean up our waste so they don’t have to deal with it. Let them deal with their own waste. I’m disgusted by the waste that has been left for us to clean up. Take an Acela Amtrak train from Washington to New York. Look out the window at the junk yard of America’s last century as you roll from Wilmington to New York. The filth, detritus, decaying, abandoned structures, spoiled waterways and wetlands shame us for our negligence. The same can be said for gaseous waste. The real challenge for our age is what do we do about our wastes: physical, liquid and gaseous?

Fortunately we’ve learned a lot about managing physical waste. We collect, sort, bury, burn, crush and recycle it. If we didn’t we’d be buried. Fortunately we’ve learned a lot about managing liquid waste. We separate, treat, clean, sequester, aerate and reclaim liquid wastes to the extent that water emitted from many facilities is as clean as, if not cleaner than, the water it takes in. If we didn’t we’d be poisoned by what we drink.

Why do we do such a good job on physical and liquid waste? Because we have to. It’s regulated and in our own self interest and that of our heirs. Why doesn’t every country behave as we do? They should. We all suffer because they don’t. But it doesn’t stop us from cleaning up our own mess.

So what about our gaseous waste? No one I know would willingly stick their head over the top of a smoke stack or stand behind a Metro bus for an hour or so. They’d become ill, or worse. Yet we all breathe what comes out of countless stacks and tailpipes every day. Tons and tons of effluent are emitted into our air every hour. Fortunately the atmosphere is large and the pollutants are dispersed, so we’re not all dead. But no one can argue that the atmosphere is infinite, because it’s not. Some excuse carbon dioxide emissions because they are also found in nature. True. But try breathing in an unventilated closed room full of people. Too much carbon dioxide is simply too much. How much man made carbon dioxide can the atmosphere stand? I, for one, would rather not have to find out.

It is time now to seriously put our collective, smart heads together to figure out the future of gaseous waste management. What comes out of smokestacks and tailpipes is more than carbon dioxide. It’s a lot of nasty stuff. Every living thing on earth has a stake in this. Nasties dispersed from smokestacks and tailpipes are still nasties. We have sustainable remedies for physical and liquid waste. Now is the time for gaseous waste solutions.

Regulating, managing, scrubbing, cleaning, capturing and sequestering are powerful concepts that could be applied to our gaseous wastes. That’s what it takes to rid our atmosphere of harmful gaseous waste! We have the technology today that can do the job. What we don’t have is the requirement or the infrastructure to get it done. Does it cost money? Absolutely. Does managing physical and liquid waste cost money? Absolutely. Do we know how much we spend disposing of trash and cleaning sewage? Probably, but it does it really matter? Managing trash and sewage is a normal, natural cost of living in our times. So, too, managing gaseous waste can become a normal, natural cost of living in our times.

Why are we debating the galactic question of climate change, which contributes such dysfunctional passion and ignorant rhetoric to our political dialogue? Why aren’t we framing the question as “why don’t we manage our gaseous waste like we do physical and liquid waste to make our lives better?” My own opinion is that elected officials, current and former, see pomp, power and glory for themselves by arguing the state of the world and mankind’s destiny in it, including their own part in the outcome, for or against, by debating climate change. They can be heroes either way, applauded by the masses for their courage and brilliance. If they stood in front of us proposing the garbage collection of gaseous waste, there is little in it for them. But then that’s my opinion.

It is the right time to do the right thing. Let’s manage gaseous wastes just like we do physical and liquid wastes. Let’s save ourselves from having to listen to the blathering of self-righteous, self-important would-be “destiny-makers” of mankind.

John Hofmeister

Founder and CEO: Citizens for Affordable Energy

Former President: Shell Oil Company

Author: Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider (Palgrave Macmillan 2010)

  • Share/Bookmark

Leave a Reply


Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 67108864 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 998609 bytes) in /home/content/11/9238311/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 251