Saturday, January 9, 2010
Polar Bears and Pollution
I don't think too much about the "global-warming-climate-change-cap-and-trade" debate that rankles so many people these days. Though, I certainly don't make or support ridiculous statements about the recent cold spell being the proof that climate scientists are wrong. For me, it's really not about that. It's not about the polar bears, or the ice caps, or ocean front property, or carbon limits, or the effects of those limits on industry. Those aren't on my mind when I take my position. Here's what is.
It's the (cough! hack! ugh!) pollution, people.
The other day I was walking to school, as I do each day, across the student parking lot to our school. The lot is just east of the school district's bus parking lot, which is incidentally, just north of my house. As I made my way on a two-minute walk to the West building, the buses were warming up, and I could barely breathe. Several were belching some black smoke, which was wafting east, and I could barely make it across the lot.
Halfway through the school day, my lungs still hurt. Hurt. They literally hurt from the ingesting of noxious fumes from engines burning fossil fuels. And these were diesel, supposedly burning cleaner than most. My lungs hurt ... here in the beautifully clear Rocky Mountain air.
We simply need to stop burning fossil fuels at the present rate, and I support restrictions. Whatever happens to the polar bears, I care about my health. There is no way to argue that moving away from oil and gas is a bad idea. And, the concerns that restrictions will be hard on business is dubious at best. Some businesses may go under? Good. Better them than my health. I know we heard the same complaints after the founding of the EPA and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts of the 1970s. Of course, those arguments were secondary to the fact that the Cuyahoga River had caught on fire several times in a week.
Did restrictions cause those polluters to go out of business. Who cares? Did the economy crumble? Did the world come to an end? Uhmmm. The answer is no. Thomas Friedman was on the news the other day talking about his book Hot, Flat, and Crowded. He pointed out that there is no doubt the earth is warming and it's causing "problems." There's a pretty good chance that man's industrial output is playing some role. How big is debatable. But, regardless, when we face potential disasters, we buy some insurance. That's what climate change legislation and polices are. They're insurance.
I'd like some insurance against the lung cancer I may have contracted. If that helps the polar bears, too, then good.