The real reasons we have to get off fossil fuels

This guest contribution is from my long-time activist friend Richard.

Editor, The Gazette:

B. Hardwicke makes some good points in his/her letter about climate change. Despite the goal of objectivity, scientific research inevitably incorporates biases of the scientists and researchers. In the end, we must accept B. Hardwicke’s statement that “There are forces at work in nature that man cannot control or fully comprehend.”

That said, if we only look at carbon emissions from the point of view of whether they cause climate change, we miss two important points on which there is no debate. The first is that we are going to run out of fossil fuels in the near future. Gas and oil supplies are predicted by industry experts to last another 30 years. Coal and uranium (both of which have serious problems associated with their extraction and use) may last 200 years. Beyond that point, we will need to have alternate, affordable energy sources ready. If we don’t use our remaining fossil fuels to develop renewable energy now, we will be left in the cold and dark. And that will not happen without reductions in the subsidies to fossil fuels and/or incentives for renewables.

The other known problem with burning fossil fuels is the devastating health impacts associated with air emissions. Epidemiological studies have shown increasing levels of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, hospital admissions and deaths. These diseases are not caused by CO2, but by the ground level ozone, minute carbon particles, sulfur dioxide (acid rain), nitrogen oxides (smog), volatile organic compounds (carcinogens), carbon monoxide, and other pollutants.

A 2008 study released by the Canadian Medical Association (available on the CMA website) estimated that 21,000 Canadians will die from the affects of air pollution in 2008 and this number will rise to 710,000 by 2031. The study also estimated that over 92,000 hospital emergency department visits in 2008 were associated with air pollution. The 2008 health costs of air pollution will top $8 billion. By 2031, these costs will have accumulated to over $250 billion

There is little doubt that air pollution is responsible for increasing health problems and billions of dollars in health care costs. We also know that by eliminating the burning of fossil fuels we will be eliminating most of the emissions that cause these affects. To postpone action “until the whole ‘science’ has been reworked” as B. Hardwicke recommends, would be short-sighted and costly.

Richard Tarnoff
Grand Forks, BC

Note, by Hildegard: Air pollution now kills 9 million people around the world each year.

more bby mt
At the Burnaby Mountain rally with 10,000 others to prevent the Kinder-Morgan pipeline: an eco-disaster in waiting now owned by the taxpayers of Canada.

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