Letter: We might need fossil fuels in the future; save them now | VailDaily.com

Letter: We might need fossil fuels in the future; save them now

We might need fossil fuels in the future; save them now

Editor's note: Find a cited version of this letter at http://www.vaildaily.com.

"Alternative energy future is baffling" (Monday) argues, quite sensibly, that we need fossil fuels because "more than 25,000 products we humans use are fossil fuel-based." So let's stop burning the fossil fuels we have left so that if scientists and engineers can't find substitutes for these petroleum-based products, future generations will still have the fossil fuels to make them.

But let's be clear about why we need to stop burning coal, oil and natural gas right now: The National Academy of Sciences says climate change poses "the most immediate and important threat to human survival." Most people don't understand that if we don't act soon, it will be too late. Climate change threatens to cause "global economic collapse" followed by "societal collapse."

According to Nature, the world's most highly cited peer-reviewed science journal, we must "bend the greenhouse-gas emissions curve downwards by 2020" to avert the worst effects of global warming. What would those "worst effects" be?

We could soon pass the tipping point into irreversible, runaway global warming and not even know it (Scientific American). Worst-case scenario? All of the oceans could boil dry (National Geographic).

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Switching to clean energy swiftly is vital to our survival, but that doesn't mean deprivation or sacrifice. Simply the opposite: We'd have a reduction in the more than 200,000 Americans who are killed each year by carbon pollution (MIT.edu) and in the hundreds of billions Americans spend annually to treat carbon-caused illnesses (Forbes). And, if we're smart, then we'll transition to clean energy in a way that will put extra cash into Americans' pockets every month.

All we need to do is to make the fossil-fuel industry, which has secretly been spending billions for decades to deceive the public about the very real dangers of climate change (Scientific American), pay for the damage their products cause, So far, that's more than $1 trillion for climate change disasters in the United States (NOAA), with much more expensive disasters to come already baked in the cake (Nature).

Let's do what British Columbia's been doing for the past eight years: Make all fossil-fuel corporations pay a carbon pollution fee that's distributed to every taxpayer in equal monthly "dividend" checks. The fee increases annually and so do the dividends. British Columbia now has 93 percent clean energy, 18 percent job growth, lower taxes, lower energy bills, the lowest emissions in North America and the best economy in Canada (The Economist).

In the United States, this policy is projected to create spectacular economic growth: $75 billion to $80 billion annual increase in GDP and millions of good jobs (REMI). Go to the bipartisan, volunteer Citizens Climate Lobby website to see how we can pass the carbon fee-and-dividend bill now on the floor of Congress.

Pete Kuntz

Northglenn