Time to rethink priorities

Letters to the editor Jul 11, 2020 Parkersburg News & Sentinel by Aaron Dunbar

“Energy key to economic recovery,” claims a report in the July 5 edition of the News and Sentinel. Wally Kandel, co-founder of Shale Crescent USA, is quoted as saying that “The time for an energy and petrochemical Renaissance is now.”

I’m struggling to wrap my head around this reasoning. It’s odd to me that now would be the time for doubling down on fossil fuel production, when oil prices have just plunged into the negative for the first time in history, when it’s just been announced that CO2 levels in our atmosphere are the highest they’ve been in the past 23 million years, and when temperature records are being shattered right and left around the planet due to anthropogenic climate change, including 100-degree temperatures in the arctic.

It seems to me that trying to boost fossil fuel production now, when our planet is nose-diving headlong into a crisis, makes about as much sense as trying to force open the nation’s economy just as deaths from COVID-19 are beginning to skyrocket.

Oh, but wait…

On May 21, an article in The Guardian pointed out that a number of groups pushing for America’s premature reopening had in the past received significant funding from fossil fuel organizations, including ExxonMobil and Murray Energy, as well as the Koch and Mercer families.

That actually makes a lot more sense to me. The same people willing to sacrifice your health and safety for the sake of the economy surely have no qualms about sacrificing the habitability of our planet for the sake of short-term profits.

Now is the time for a radical reimagining of what our energy system looks like, not for doubling down on tired old systems that we know are unsustainable, that we know are killing us, and that we know are designed to enrich an elite few, while leaving the rest of us behind to clean up their messes.

Even if you do not care one iota about climate change (and I have no idea why you wouldn’t at this point, unless you had a vested interest in ignoring the issue), it’s abundantly clear that the future of the global economy lies in green jobs and renewable energy. And if America truly wants to continue leading the world in innovation and economic might, I suggest that now, more than ever, is the time for us to begin drastically reconsidering our priorities.