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Solutions needed for fossil fuel problems


Editor of the Reformer:

In just the past week, we have had three depressing news items come before us.

UNICEF released a study indicating that 600,000 children die each year from air pollution.

That is a child dying every 52.6 seconds.

The World Wildlife Fund released a report saying that we will have lost two-thirds of our wildlife in the fifty years ending 2020, and the greatest causes of that loss can be traced to our use of fossil fuels.

The American Lung Association's California chapter released a study that gives the cost of medical problems stemming from the use of fossil fuels for powering transportation. Vermont was one of the 10 states studied. It says we lose about $300,000,000 per year because of diseases resulting from our use of gasoline and diesel oil. That is about $480 per person per year, with the costs are mostly hidden in medical insurance and taxes. We might reflect on human suffering from asthma, lung cancer, emphysema and other diseases caused by fossil fuel use.

None of these facts surprised me, because I research the news daily for a blog and had seen similar information.

The WHO and IEA indicate we lose another person to outdoor air pollution about every 10 seconds, worldwide, a rate comparable to our losses of military personnel during the Second World War. Estimates of financial losses due to fossil fuel use ranged from $250 to $1,000 per person, per year, world wide, based on sources ranging from the WHO to financial institutions.

The Audubon Society had said we could lose 50 percent of our bird species in North America because of our misuse of fossil fuels, and the WWF scientists said we will lose another species to extinction every ten minutes, until we get deal with climate change.

Given the nature of the problems, I find it astonishing that people actually attempt to prevent wind power, solar power, and other solutions from being put in place.

A lot of misinformation has been circulated about solar and wind power. Much of that has been used to frighten people to lend support to opposing them, and possibly other forms of renewable energy. Today, thousands of people in this country live in wind farms quite happily, finding the positions of Vermonters who oppose wind power amusing, at the least. Real-world installations show that wind power and solar on a power grid do not reduce reliability, and in fact improve it. The wind provides the least expensive we have, according to the DOE.

There are major areas of the world that get their electric power entirely from renewable sources.

Costa Rica is one, as are two of Germany's sixteen states. Portugal, Scotland, and Denmark are among the countries that have gone for at least one day without fossil fuels for electric power. The misinformation, however, gives comfort to the fossil fuels industries.

For the sake of the environment and our own health, we need solutions to the problems caused by fossil fuels.

George Harvey,

Brattleboro, Oct. 31


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