Energy – Embrace change or not

Feb 28, 2020 Letter to the Editor at Marietta Times by Vic Elam

There is a lot of information swirling around these days about climate change – is it real or a natural phenomenon – if it is real, how bad could it be – what should we do? In efforts to protect themselves, corporations that stand to suffer from changes in public opinion, work to find ways to spin the conversation to benefit themselves. But, what I propose here is that regardless of your opinion about climate change, there are many other factors, “hidden costs,” that we should consider as we look at opportunities to move from a fossil fueled economy to one based upon emerging renewable technologies.

Those corporations that are defending the continued use of fossil fuels, will tell you that renewable energy efforts such as solar and wind require the use of rare earth elements, are cost-prohibitive, use construction processes that are environmentally damaging, and so forth. There is some validity to those arguments, however, when compared to the damages resulting from the continued use of fossil fuels that argument falls woefully short.

Like many things we purchase, we tend to accept the monetary value as the true cost involved in the production of that product. Upon further examination, the hidden costs of fossil fuel production are not really evident in the price we pay at the pump or on our electricity bill. Certainly the most widely publicized “hidden cost” is the effects of climate change. But even if you are a climate denier it’s hard to deny many of the other hidden costs like, air and water pollution. And as the more available fossil fuel reserves are used up we must work harder, employ damaging processes, and go into areas previously set aside as natural areas.

The end result is that we find ourselves paying environmental costs. Fracking has been shown to blame for earth quakes and contaminating water supplies. Fracking has been documented in following a fissure and surfacing resulting in contamination of surface water. Brine water, a byproduct of fracking, poses its own set of problems. Erosion from surface mining, installation of pipelines and construction of access roads damages wildlife habitat and contaminates our water supply, not to mention the constant spill events from transporting fuel. Air pollution has increased the incidence of asthma and other lung disease and we all suffer from the cost of treatment of these ailments.

If you are not a climate denier, look at the increasing damage from extreme weather events. We are likely to continue to see weather events take a toll on our food supply, on human lives and our structures.

If having good paying jobs is your concern, we have everything necessary to produce the products required for renewable energy, but again large corporations are calling the shots to benefit them the most.

I could go on and on, but I’m guessing that most of you are aware of many of these issues already, which begs me to ask; why don’t we take action. I invite you to get involved, Citizens Climate Lobby has a local chapter and is seeking your support, you can find out more on Facebook, or send an email to:

Other locally active organizations:

¯ Ready-for-100:

¯ Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action:

¯ Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC):