Letters to the Editor & Op-Eds 2013+2014

York Daily Record:
http://www.ydr.com/letters
300 words

The York Dispatch:
400 words for Letters to the Editor, 800 words for "Other Voices" letters

Lancaster Online:
Lancaster also has a Transition movement and possibly stronger connections with the environment and agriculture than we Yorkers do.  We and Lancaster have enough in common that we can learn a lot from each other and work well together.

The Baltimore Sun
talkback @ baltimoresun.com

The Patriot News / PennLive
letters @ pennlive.com
250 words maximum (they get hundreds of submissions per month)




Politicians via their staff do pay attention to Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds.  They are a significant path for voters to voice their opinions to policymakers, who want to know what their electorate is thinking.

At http://citizensclimatelobby.org/2013-published-letters-to-the-editor/ is a vast nationwide collection of LTEs published by members of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, which has regular monthly meetings in York usually at the UUCY.






OP-ED: Our oil habit will burden future generations
By RHEA SUH
Los Angeles Times (TNS)

POSTED:   12/31/2014 12:34:18 PM EST

Our oil habit will burden future generations

As world oil prices have slumped below $60 a barrel, tumbling nearly 50 percent since June to a five-year low, analysts have scrambled to discern the economic and political fallout.

The big picture, though, hasn't changed: Oil is not cheap, at any price. What we're charged at the pump for gasoline is just a down payment on the far larger tab we're running to support our national oil habit. Rather than allow a temporary price reprieve to mask those costs, we should use this moment to take stock and change course.

Every day in this country, we use 800 million gallons of oil. That's enough to fill the Empire State Building three times. With every gallon we produce, ship and burn, we incur costs that are piling up — for ourselves and our children.

The greatest burden we're imposing on the next generation comes from the environmental damage we're doing by consuming this fuel.

Burning oil and other fossil fuels is what generates the dangerous carbon pollution that is driving climate change, the central environmental challenge of our time. The first 11 months of this year were the hottest, globally, of any year since worldwide measurements began in 1880. We have an obligation to protect future generations from the dangers of more extreme heat, fires, drought and storms. Our national oil habit is making matters worse.

At the other end of the process, producing oil comes at a high cost to the natural systems we all depend on for our prosperity, our progress and our very survival.

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Fracking — the source of a large and growing share of our domestic oil — has brought the perils of the industrial oil patch to the American backyard. It threatens the water, air, ranches and farms in communities across more than 30 states where this destructive industrial practice is used to drill for oil and natural gas.

Offshore oil production puts workers, waters and wildlife at risk of the kind of disaster that followed the 2010 BP blowout. That disaster killed 11 Americans, dumped 170 million gallons of toxic crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico and threw thousands of people out of work in the fishing, hospitality and energy industries.

Tar sands development is gutting vast tracts of one of the last truly wild places on Earth, the North American boreal forest of Canada, and poisoning waterways local people have relied on for their food and livelihoods for generations.

And Arctic drilling threatens rich habitat where the industry lacks the skills, equipment or knowledge to prevent, contain or clean up a spill.

Shipping crude oil exposes communities large and small to the kind of pipeline blowouts we've seen contaminate waters and lands in Michigan, Arkansas and elsewhere, part of the nearly 5,900 pipeline failures that have killed more than 375 Americans and spilled nearly 100 million gallons of oil and other hazardous liquids over just the last two decades. It also puts towns, cities and rural areas at risk of the kinds of oil train explosions we've suffered from the plains of North Dakota to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Securing access to oil reserves and shipping lanes worldwide, for ourselves and our allies, imposes huge costs, in terms of treasure and lives, on members of the U.S. military, their families and the taxpayers. The same goes for the U.S. diplomatic corps, which expends enormous resources each year shoring up relationships linked to the global oil trade. To the extent we must borrow money to finance these military and diplomatic operations, we're passing on the costs of today's oil to our children. Uncertainty, too, imposes costs. And, here, our dependence on oil is exacting a steep toll.

Oil prices go up, down and up again, depending on global forces. What it means is that our families, our workers, our entire economy is held hostage to global price swings we can neither control nor predict.

That's why eight presidents — going back to Richard Nixon — have called on Americans, as a nation, to break this costly addiction to oil.

That means investing in efficiency so we can do more with less waste. It means getting more power from the wind and sun. It means building, in this country, the best electric and hybrid cars in the world. And it means remembering that cutting demand and diversifying supply remain the two most powerful tools for dealing with global oil markets we can't control or predict. That's the way to help ensure that all Americans have greater access to affordable energy, not just for today or next week, but far into the future.

— Rhea Suh, a former assistant secretary of the Interior, is the incoming president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. Suh wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.






Charge a fee for carbon pollution (letter)
Steve Izzo
UPDATED:   12/22/2014 10:21:57 AM EST

We have only have gas-fueled cars because fossil fuel lobbyists and the auto industry have manipulated Congress to prevent electric cars from succeeding. That’s about to change thanks to Tesla. Coal ash is toxic and just got reduced to “normal garbage” status by oil/coal lobby efforts in Congress. Just because they redefine pollution doesn’t stop it from killing things. Mercury poison now prevails in the earth’s waterways and all fish are now toxic. Official medical advice is to not eat fish more than once a week — and for tuna and some other species, once a month. Massive mercury increases are exclusively from fossil fuel burning — fact. 

The grid will work for renewables too. In fact, solar, wind and 20 million car batteries hooked into the grid will make a far more stable and cleaner power grid than we have now. Smart grid will allow the charging of electric cars and then allow those powerful batteries to collectively act as a power source during off hours, power flowing in multiple directions. 

The DOE successfully created two molten salt solar projects in the ’80s and then mysteriously disassembled them. Natural gas burns cleaner than coal but is dirty to extract. Its net pollution is equal. Electricity is 30 percent more efficient than gas cars or coal plants, so less power needs to be generated.
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Mark Jacobsen of Stanford has proven that renewables can power the planet right now:
 http://vimeo.com/98220888. We only lack the political will. Renewable energy can power this planet: don’t let them tell you it can’t — it can. Power without the pollution, cancer or the corruption in Congress. It’s way past time.

— Steve Izzo, Brogue






It’s not opinion, it’s science (letter)
By Jon Clark
UPDATED:   12/24/2014 02:26:13 PM EST8 COMMENTS


Thank you to David Abernethy for your letter “Renewable energy rip-off.” In your letter Mr. Abernethy, you named me as being someone who is a self-proclaimed expert who wastes no time expressing a complete disregard for anyone who doesn’t share my ideology saying “anyone with an opposing viewpoint is immediately dismissed and labeled ‘misinformed.’” 

I am not an expert on climate science; I am a volunteer for an organization which seeks to build the political will for our lawmakers to address our warming climate. I would not label anyone with an opposing viewpoint of my own as misinformed, but anyone with an opposing viewpoint from the best available peer-reviewed science regarding climate change will likely get a response from a CCL volunteer or another concerned citizen (thank you Turk Pierce and Marc Benton). 

This is why I responded to a letter which claimed there has been no warming of the planet for the last 18 years — 2010 was tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record, according to NASA and NOAA (who track temperature data), and 2014 will likely break this record. This is not based on computer models or satellite measurements (which do not directly measure temperature); this is based on actual temperature data collected from measurement stations and buoys all across the planet.

Even without these temperature readings, the impact of warming temperatures can be seen all across the planet. For example, the worldwide retreat of glaciers, plants blooming earlier in spring, melting permafrost in the arctic, the spread of tropical diseases as their carriers expand their range, are all clear evidence of a warming planet.

Also, we respond to viewpoints which oppose the facts. When responding to the same letter in which the writer absolutely misrepresented a scientific study, Porter Hedge responded with his letter “Climate fallacy letter full of fallacies,” pointed out inaccuracies and provided the link to the actual study for readers to look for themselves. With deep concern for our warming planet and the consequences others will pay for our shortsightedness, we seek to communicate the best available climate science to the public and our lawmakers. Congress should be making decisions based on science, not misinformation spread by an industry with trillions of dollars of fossil fuels at stake which must be left in the ground unburned if we care at all about what kind of planet we leave for our children. 

— Jon Clark, Conewago Township






Strange thoughts in letters (letter)
By Jeffrey Brown
UPDATED:   12/30/2014 01:27:07 PM EST


Your Dec. 20 letters to the editor left me baffled.

It started off with Bob Stier proclaiming that laws against torture mean nothing if we’re threatened by terrorists, and ended with Kelly Barrick stating that laws regarding property are sacred — even to those who feel threatened by a justice system whose blindfold has fallen off. So what’s the message here? That whites who feel threatened can break whatever laws they please, whereas blacks who feel threatened cannot? Or did I miss some subtle detail in their arguments? 

Anyway, I’m baffled. But then, baffled is pretty much my normal state these days, since never in my 64 years have I heard as much pure blather as I’ve been hearing lately. I mean, when torture, of all things, acquires passionate defenders, it gets awfully hard to foresee a bright future for this country. Or any future at all, for that matter. 

So please, let me close by thanking Therese McConville for her very thoughtful letter on that same page. It’s so rare nowadays to find anyone with common sense that I think we should thank those who’ve got it whenever we get the chance.

Because people who are able, or willing, to see beyond their own short-sighted self-interests are probably this nation’s last, best and possibly only hope.

And hope isn’t something America’s got in abundance at the moment.


— Jeffrey A. Brown, Dover Township






Is climate change a hoax? (letter)
By Roger Twitchell
UPDATED:   12/18/2014 02:34:17 PM EST


Thank you, David Abernethy, for your letter “Renewable energy rip-off” of Dec. 16.

Regulating emissions here doesn’t address global greenhouse gas pollution, suggesting tariff-adjusted carbon fee and dividend could be better. But first we have to acknowledge reality.

Why is Ski Liberty called that when in the past decade it’s become more, what? Maybe-ski Liberty? Is their having to figure out how to stay profitable without reliable snow a hoax? Ask them if global warming, AGW, ACC, whatever you want to call it over the past 17 years, has been a hoax.
Neither the Heartland Institute having a Vegas-based conference you refer to nor Rush Limbaugh’s praise for the Institute for Energy Research you also refer to negate the decades of honest work by climate scientists. But thank you for pointing out the views of those supported by the tobacco and fossil fuel industry with the backing of hate radio.

If one prefers high carbon intensity, then one should compensate for supporting refinery-zone cancer alleys, for accelerating permafrost thawing and glacier loss, for increasing seawater inundation of Pacific islands, and for our wondering if skiing will be possible this winter.

There is no ethical reason whatsoever for a preference for high carbon intensity to not also bring higher personal costs to compensate for externalized societal costs of one’s high carbon intensity.

What about the ever-decreasing energy return on investment (EROI)? Do you expect it to switch from high and increasing to low somehow? That’s what we have to work with, with whatever we can come up with. To deny that reality is to believe that fracking will last forever without side effects and so doom our grandkids to high ever-rising energy prices and pollution without alternatives.

— Roger Twitchell, York






The earth is round, and it’s heating up (letter)
By Turk Pierce
UPDATED:   12/09/2014 10:18:42 AM EST

Back in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was president, scientists discovered a hole in the earth’s ozone layer in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was found that chloroflourocarbons were to blame, and a world-wide ban on spray bottles using these was instituted. The ozone layer hole has shrunk, though it is still there.

In the 1990s, scientists warned of an increase in global warming, caused by increased emissions of carbon dioxide, which cause a “greenhouse effect” on Earth. Their warnings have been borne out, with nine of the 10 warmest years in history coming in the 21st century (the other was in 1998). The polar ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising (Miami Beach is awash at high tide). The percentage of carbon in the atmosphere is increasing. Some scenarios indicate if nothing is done to halt global warming, mankind will be extinct in 250 years.

While the effectiveness of a proposed tax on carbon emissions can be debated, to deny that global warming exists is the same as maintaining the earth is flat.

— Turk Pierce, Springettsbury Township






Climate fallacy letter full of fallacies (letter)
By Porter Hedge
UPDATED:   12/08/2014 08:01:25 PM EST

In her letter “Climate change fallacies,” Missy Updyke asks “who, really, is spreading misinformation.” I feel compelled to answer — Missy Updyke. I actually researched Missy Updyke’s claim: “The original survey sought opinions from 10,257 scientists; however, only 77 responded. Out of those 77 scientists, 75 answered the survey to form the mythical 97 percent ‘consensus.’” Missy Updyke is mistaken on this. Readers can access the actual study, from 2007-2008, here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2009EO030002/pdf. The survey sought responses from 10,257 scientists and 3,146 scientists actually responded. The authors narrowed the results to scientists who “listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50 percent of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change.”

This makes sense to narrow it down to the experts, who numbered 79. Of that number, 77 agreed global temperatures have risen and humans are responsible. This was a simple survey from six years ago showing the 97 percent consensus from a relatively small sampling of scientists and is by no means the only research showing the 97 percent consensus. Other more in depth and more current studies showing the same 97 percent consensus can be found at http://www.pnas.org/content/107/27/12107.
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abstract/ and http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024024/article/. 

On top of this, virtually every relevant scientific organization agrees with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings that the earth is warming and the cause is humans burning fossil fuels.
Missy Updyke goes on to make this statement: “The historical record exposes the fallacy that climate changes over the past billions of years were caused by man’s activities.” Huh? No scientist anywhere is claiming humans were responsible for climate change over the past billions of years. Humans have only been around for maybe 200,000 years. However, the overwhelming majority of scientists who are actually conducting the research agree humans are the cause of the climate change we are experiencing right now. She goes on to list several sources that are mostly discredited by science, funded by fossil fuel interests or both. I encourage everyone to research the issue using credible sources such as the IPCC, the National Academies of Science, NOAA, and NASA.

— Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township






New designs for nuclear plants can help solve global warming (letter)
By Richard J. Bono
UPDATED:   11/28/2014 02:07:38 PM EST

From 1984 to 1994, at Argonne National Laboratory in Idaho, a team of the nation's leading nuclear scientists, led by Dr. Charles Till, set out to build a machine that would address all the problems of the old second generation reactors like TMI and, later, Fukushima.

They succeeded spectacularly.

They built and tested a remarkably simple, compact and elegant design, the first fourth generation reactor, now called the Integral Fast Reactor, or IFR. It was as different from the old water reactors as a deer is from a hippo. Based upon an entirely different physics, running unimpeded, at low, not high pressure, it required no water coolant, no cooling towers, and had no water effluent.

So with such an accomplishment, why have so few heard of it?

The answer fits almost entirely into one word: Chernobyl, and the fear it engendered.

The worst reactor ever designed was to be conflated with the best reactor ever designed and prompt its defunding. Timing is everything.

The new reactors share three main characteristics.

First: They cannot melt down. Impossible. When power is shut off for any reason, the "fast" reaction simply shuts down, without any operator involvement. Second: Unlike the water reactors, which produce large amounts of waste and burn less than 1 percent of their fuel, the IFRs burn more than 99 percent, for they can burn most impurities, to produce heat to turn a turbine. In a technique called "pyroprocessing," their waste is metalized, and then shoved again into the reactor, recycled as fuel. The tiny amount of waste they do produce has a half life of 300 years, not 10,000 like the old reactors. Indeed, the world's "waste" dumps become thousands of years of fuel for these omnivorous machines, turning a negative into a positive.

And third: IFRs of all types are deliberately designed so any of their materials cannot be used to produce a bomb.

So why should this be important?

Not surprisingly for me as well as many others, the realities of climate change upon the natural world are becoming increasingly obvious. The recent International Panel on Climate Change report, always conservative, speaks of "irreversible" change to the ecology of the planet. Modern life's effects now threaten to so severely affect the planet as to render its familiarity, one day, unrecognizable. As average global temperatures continue to increase toward the perilous two degree centigrade tipping point, appropriate measures will necessarily need to be taken. The IPCC goal is not mere reduction of carbon dioxide, but its virtual elimination, as was done with CFCs and the ozone. Even if accomplished by 2100, the planet's temperature will remain at elevated levels for many centuries. The conventional wisdom needs to be re-examined.

The idea that renewables and efficiencies alone will be commensurate to our challenge has been taken up by some European nations already. The data show that this strategy will not suffice. The usual problems of intermittency, storage, location, orientation, land usage, expensive new utility infrastructure, do not scale up well, and taken all together, will provide only limited global improvement on a planet with millions entering the middle class for the first time.

By 2050, the expected global population increase is two billion, with at least a 50 percent increase energy demand.

Today, global solar, comprises half of 1 percent of global base energy production. Wind and other options are better, but even with great increase, none will have the needed impacts.

Thus, reducing aggregate energy by any means is always a worthwhile endeavor, but relying on such a strategy alone, by definition, will only insure the emissions rich, back-up power of coal or gas. This scenario cannot possibly meet the virtual zero emissions standard. As we approach the time when the old, one-of-a-kind plants will be phased out, which I support, it's time to do some serious reconsideration.

This is being done. A consortium of the seven leading new nuclear nations, and many companies, are racing into the future. Since 1994, 20 smaller IFRs have accumulated 300 years of operational experience. This is today a mature technology, and this time it has not gone unnoticed. China understands this also. They are now working on fourth generation nuclear, which they intend to mass produce to eventually eliminate their horrific coal-generated pollution. They even see it as not just an environmental problem, but also one of governance. Commercialization is inevitable.

In the UK, a partnership of GE and Hitachi are poised to build two modules of their S-PRISM, 600 MW, IFRs, to burn the UK's "waste" stockpile, which is the equivalent of 500 years of fuel for the entire country. There has been serious value-engineering here. GEH plans to mass produce their standardized, seamless modules in a factory, compact enough to put on a flatbed for transport directly to a waiting foundation at an existing coal plant, replacing only the burners with as many modules as required. The intention is, as much as possible, to keep everything else in place, including the grid. To a customer, a family, a business, or a factory, all will be the same, except that with virtual clean grid base power, everything connected to it is also clean.

Thus the expected human variations in energy conscientiousness are accommodated. As far as towns, cities, and burgeoning mega-cities, not to mention transportation, it's only the big kahuna of new nuclear from the grid, which can come even close to such a massive and still growing clean energy demand.

And the IFR is the first but not the only type of new nuclear. Even more ambitious options are in the works. The Chinese and Bill Gates are investing in the LFTR, the thorium reactor. Four grams of thorium in the palm of one's hand equal a year's power for an average American. And Lockheed-Martin at Skunkworks is developing its CFR, the 100 MW compact fusion reactor. Unlike IFRs, these are unproven technologies, but they indicate just how serious is the effort to develop new generators of plentiful, safe, steady and sustainable energy.

There has also been thought of the big picture. The Science Council on Global Initiatives, with its Nobel laureates, climate scientists and physicists, have roughly calculated just how many IFRs would be needed to arrive at virtual zero global emissions. That number, according to Tom Bless, its president, comes to around 100 a year until 2050.

If there's one thing the 20th century has demonstrated, it's that modern industry can mass produce anything. In this regard, IFRs are no different than refrigerators, autos, waffles or iPhones.

Whatever innovation in new nuclear emerges, it will be inherently safer and therefore cheaper than anything before. And using the world's existing grids, it will be clean base power, for whatever amount of energy renewables and efficiencies bring to the party — a future alliance of all clean energies. I simply don't know if humanity will awaken and get to work. But if the question becomes whether new nuclear can be done, the answer is a resounding yes.

I would like to thank Taylor Blyth, York's Penn State doctoral candidate in nuclear engineering, for fact checking this article. Taylor works at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Richard J. Bono lives in Hellam Township.






LETTER: Conservative climate change fix in GOP hands
York Dispatch
POSTED:   11/28/2014 11:09:14 AM EST


Thank you to The York Dispatch for the article "Globe on pace for the warmest year" in last Fridays' edition.

Climate change is here and now and is affecting all of us. From the higher food prices at the supermarket, thanks to the mega drought California is experiencing, to the higher insurance premiums to cover damages from extreme weather, which is becoming more frequent and more extreme, to increasing rates of asthma in our children, York County residents are also paying the high costs of carbon pollution.

According to scientists at www.climatecentral.org, all but one of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century (1998, when there was a very strong El Niño, is the exception). The last time the world experienced a record-coldest year was in 1909, more than 100 years ago. But in that period, 18 records for warmest year have been set, with 2014 likely to be the 19th.

In June of this year, Citizens' Climate Lobby released the results of an economic study done by Regional Economic Modeling Inc. CCL's proposed fix to a warming planet is a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Tax the polluters and return the money back equally to consumers; that's a revenue neutral tax. The study showed this kind of a carbon tax would create millions of new jobs, save thousands annually due to reduced air pollution, and add between $70 billion to $85 billion to our GDP after 10 years.

The fix is simple, put a price on carbon. The free market will speed the inevitable transition to a clean-energy economy. Last week, the author of this study, Scott Nystrom of REMI, gave two briefings of the study for members of Congress and their staff in Washington — one briefing for the Senate and one for the House. Both briefings were standing room only and staffers had to be turned away. It's clear the REMI study is changing the conversation about climate change in Congress, especially within Republican offices. Republicans can support a conservative, free-market solution to climate change, reducing the need for EPA regulations.

Now that the Republicans will control both the House and the Senate, Congress can pass conservative measures to solve the nation's problems. A revenue-neutral carbon tax is a conservative fix to a growing problem.

PORTER HEDGE
Spring Garden Twp.






Misinformation on climate change (letter)
By Jon Clark
UPDATED:   11/24/2014 04:02:07 PM EST


This is in response to Missy Updyke’s letter “The debate is not over yet” (Nov. 20). Firstly, Ms. Updyke repeats the falsehood of global surface temperatures not increasing for 18 years. I’m not sure where this falsehood comes from, as Miss Updyke does not name her source of this misinformation. Both NASA and NOAA say 2010 was tied with 2005 as warmest year on record globally. This will likely be a moot point soon as NOAA is now saying that 2014 will likely break that record. 

Secondly, Ms. Updyke points to an opinion article written by William M. Gray to attempt to argue against well-established climate science. Climate scientists publish the findings of their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals after being thoroughly scrutinized by fellow climate scientists and backed up by evidence. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree the earth is warming primarily due to humans burning fossil fuels and deforestation. This is supported by peer-reviewed research backed by evidence. Mr. Gray’s opinion piece was not peer-reviewed and is not backed by any scientific evidence. 

Thirdly, Ms. Updyke suggests Citizens’ Climate Lobby is being secretive about how a climate tax would work. A recent study found a steadily rising, revenue neutral carbon tax would reduce carbon pollution, save lives and be beneficial to the U.
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S. economy. Any reader can find the details (good or bad) of this study as well as how a revenue neutral carbon tax would work at our website www.citizensclimatelobby.org. 

 James Haynes, 8 years old from New Jersey, has met with his Republican Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen to press for a revenue neutral carbon tax. He summed our proposal up nicely saying: “What’s not to get? You make the polluters pay more. And then you give that money to the people to pay their bills.” I for one would like to help James have clean air and water and a future on this earth. 

— Jon Clark, Conewago Township






Pitts should back fee on CO2 emissions
By Jerry Lee Miller
Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2014 6:00 am


I congratulate U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts on his re-election. I hope he will now draw on his vast lifetime experience to help solve a major problem — the detrimental impacts of CO2 pollution.

When he was a science teacher, Pitts taught young minds to respect evidence and natural laws.
 
So surely he knows we must reverse the trend of rising CO2 emissions because as CO2 pollution has risen so have sea levels and global temperatures, along with the incidence of severe droughts and extreme weather. Not only do these impacts create health concerns, they also put a huge drag on the economy.

Our congressman also is a retired Air Force fighter pilot. Therefore he would understand the need to address security threats while they are still manageable.

The Pentagon has clearly identified climate change as a threat multiplier. In fact, those regions posing the greatest security threats to the United States are some of the most susceptible to the adverse and destabilizing effects of climate change.

An admirer of Ronald Reagan, I’m sure Pitts has great respect for one of President Reagan's most trusted advisers, George Shultz.

Shultz says the most efficient and effective way to cut carbon emissions is with a steadily-rising fee on the CO2 content of fossil fuels. If we return the revenue from that fee to all households, we'll shield families from higher energy costs and actually add jobs to the economy.

I'm asking Pitts to draw on all of this, plus use the skill he's demonstrated in getting many bills passed, even during a “do-nothing Congress,” to champion the George Shultz bill.

This conservative approach, a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend, would improve the health of his constituents, preserve a livable world for their children and add jobs to the economy.

Jerry Lee Miller
Manheim Township






Work in a nonpartisan way to protect world (column)
By Rev. Mitchell Hescox
UPDATED:   11/14/2014 03:20:44 PM EST


It's time for a new future.

So I've a message for Governor-elect Tom Wolf, Senators Casey and Toomey, Congressman Scott Perry, state Sen. Wagner and Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill and the rest of our elected leaders in every city, borough and township, it's time to work together.

But it's not just up to you; it's up to us all.

There's an apathy that permeates York County, Pennsylvania and all of America.

Approval ratings for every government branch remain at an all-time low, our public education system is broken, Pennsylvania's once-vibrant manufacturing is all but gone, our infrastructure is crumbling, and we are failing to defend our children's health by allowing dirty air and fouled water to damage unborn brains along with rapid increases in autism, ADHD, asthma and cancers — all with a proven link to environmental pollution.

This is not a call for bigger government, but smarter government.

We can no longer afford to live in the past or promote and protect industries that have reached their end. For instance, coal was vital to our past, but less so to our future. It's time to admit that coal reserves have dwindled, coal jobs have shrunk to a few thousand, and a transition to new energy future is inevitable. Plus, we all know the extra costs coal energy imposes on humanity through black lung disease, acid rain, mercury poisoning and carbon pollution's raising temperatures.

So let's stop protecting the past and together move Pennsylvania into a future that works for all. We can accelerate a new energy economy with the political will, following the lead of business, and each individual taking responsibility for believing in new future with good-paying jobs, purer air and water, and a vibrant economy. Here's how:

First, let's agree that energy is the keystone. Throughout the centuries Pennsylvania's economic success was energy driven. In the beginning, it was our rivers and streams powering water wheels, then it was our hardwood forests that heated our forges and fed the beginning of stream power, then coal and other fossil fuels, and now it's time for another transition.

Pennsylvania can be a leader in the new energy economy by removing subsidies for all forms of energy (with a reasonable transition for emerging clean energy approaches). Currently, we give approximately $2.9 billion per year in various subsidies to fossil fuels and lesser amounts to cleaner energy sources. Let's let a fair market determine our current energy needs, and at the same time use this $2.9 billion to empower our excellent universities with R&D funding to lead us into a new energy economy. Couple this with a reasonable auction system to sell the advancements to industry, and we will insure the fastest development in tangible products that will benefit Pennsylvania first.

Second, many families have a rule: If you make a mess, clean it up. The same principle should apply to polluters. All of us know there is a price to pay for our trash removal. Most municipalities set limits for the amount of our weekly garbage. If you throw out more junk, you pay more. We need a pollution fee that provides the incentive to limit the junk. It shouldn't matter if it's our household trash or methane leaks from natural gas production, nitrogen running off farmland — polluting our streams, or carbon and particulates emitting from coal-generating plants. Research and development will catapult us into this new future, but as we get there a fair market realizes the true costs and doesn't bury them inside our children bodies.

Third, we must prepare for threats we can't stop. Recently, The National Academy of Sciences issued a report on Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts. Between 2008 and 2012, the United States government spent only $493 million for coastal risk management and yet at least $12.8 billion was appropriated for emergency relief during the same time and for the same region. The old proverb "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" needs to be employed for our new "smart" government. Coastal events might appear remote for us in South Central Pennsylvania, but know the same report states that Philadelphia and Baltimore are two of the top 20 at-risk cities worldwide.

As an evangelical Christian, lifelong Republican, father and grandfather, I believe in hope and want the better opportunity for a healthy life and prosperous future for my kids, grandkids and all Pensylvania. With God's help we can do it, but we need a smart government to do its part, too.

The Rev. Mitchell Hescox is president/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom.






Sea rise threatens naval bases (letter)
Mike Omlor
UPDATED:   11/12/2014 12:27:44 PM EST


Thank you to Daniel Brocklebank for his letter “Will the Outer Banks be swamped?” Mr. Brocklebank rightly points out the problem of sea level rise due to global warming. The Pentagon released a report last month calling climate change a threat to our national security. One reason for this is because rising seas threaten U.S. military bases. 

One of the world’s largest naval bases in Norfolk, Va., made the list of the top five military installations most vulnerable to climate change, according to the American Security Project. “Because of its location on the southern tip of Virginia, it is at risk of sea-level rise and storm surge” according to ASP’s 2012 report “Military Basing and Climate Change.” According to the former Commanding Officer of Naval Station Norfolk, Joe Bouchard, the base would need to spend up to $460 million to replace old piers already degraded by sea-level rise and hundreds of millions more to protect onshore infrastructure critical to the base’s maintenance, training and logistics missions.

As the naval installation is threatened by rising seas, the cities of Norfolk and neighboring Hampton Roads face the same threat. Norfolk officials estimate a total investment of $1 billion is needed in the coming decades, including $600 million to replace current infrastructure and keep water out of homes and businesses.
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According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences study, “Recurrent Flooding Study for Tidewater Virginia,” the sea level in Southeast Virginia is expected to rise at least 1 to 3 feet by as early as 2060. A recent study by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) estimated costs from a three-foot sea-level rise in the Hampton Roads region to range between $12 billion and $87 billion.

Rep. Scott Perry should listen to our military and take the necessary steps to protect our national security by working in a bipartisan way to reduce our carbon emissions.

— Mike Omlor, Washington Township




Green Energy for Jobs and the Environment (letter)
11/11/14 print only
York Daily Record

Did you know that both the rooftop solar and wind power industries each now employ more people than the coal industry?

The rooftop solar power industry is giving homeowners the ability to literally put a dent in mid-day peak energy demand, right where electricity is used – no additional power lines needed.  While utilities lose electrical sales due to rooftop solar, it generally helps the grid by helping level off the mid-day usage peak.  Since solar panels are semiconductors, affordable solar power keeps increasing the same way it does for other electronics.

The American Southwest’s Green Tea Party understands rooftop solar can mean energy freedom, and fiercely battles local utilities for net metering to let them receive payment for helping the grid meet mid-day power demands.

Burlington, VT is now 100% renewables-powered, largely via windmills.  Denmark and other largely island nations are also nearing 100% renewables-sourced generation, mostly via wind power.

Energy storage manufacturing has increased with renewables, helping more people transition from dying industries like printing to a 21st Century economy.

Broad geographic distribution of wind and solar power let it become a uniquely steady electrical supply, energy with zero refueling costs or serious maintenance shutdowns.  That’s the beauty of distributed generation – like the internet, various isolated nodes here and there can go down without really affecting the whole.

REMI and other groups have done thorough analyses of the economic impact of a rising carbon fee and dividend, a fully returned-to-households fee collected at fuels’ entry into the economy.  Each study has found the economy long-term would be helped by fee and dividend.

So it’s not the environment vs. the economy, but rather what’s good long-term for the environment is also good for the economy.  They go hand in hand.


Roger Twitchell
York City







A special letter of sorts:


Reflections on a Mote of Dust (excerpt from a commencement speech)
By Carl Sagan to his fellow humans

We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

— Carl Sagan


Excerpted from a commencement address delivered May 11, 1996. Dr. Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot expands on these ideas. 

Image from Voyager 1, 1990.

Alan Sill has created a nice poster from the above text and related photos.

Carl Sagan didn't live to see this image of Earth as seen from Mars taken by Mars Global Surveyor in 2003. But he would have loved it.






Carbon tax solves many issues (letter)
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_26908465/carbon-tax-solves-many-issues-letter
UPDATED: 11/10/2014 04:10:46 PM EST


Congratulations to Rep. Scott Perry for his re-election. I agree with his assessment of the three priorities he should tackle. All three priorities (national security, cleaning up the debt and deficit of the federal government, and improving economic factors for Pennsylvania and the nation) can be addressed with one simple piece of legislation, a revenue neutral carbon tax.

A Pentagon report put out last month called climate change a threat to our security saying “climate change will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation and poses immediate risks to U.S. national security.” Ninety-seven percent of climate researchers and every relevant scientific organization agree that humans are the main cause of our warming planet by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Also last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced 2014 is on track to be the warmest year in recorded human history. The planet will continue to warm as long as we continue to pollute the atmosphere with massive quantities of carbon pollution; there is no scientific debate about this.

A revenue neutral carbon tax is a free market approach which avoids additional costly government regulations to reduce carbon pollution, requiring the polluters to pay to fix the problem, rather than taxpayers.

A recent study by the economic modeling firm Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) examined the impact of a steadily-rising fee on carbon-based fuels with revenue from that fee returned to households in equal shares. With the fee starting at $10 per ton of carbon dioxide and rising $10 per ton each year, the major findings were:

• In 20 years, CO2 emissions would be reduced 50 percent below 1990 levels.


• Because of the economic stimulus of recycling carbon fee revenue back to households, in 20 years, 2.8 million jobs would be added to the American economy.


• Improved air quality would result in 230,000 premature deaths avoided over 20 years.



Reduce our carbon pollution with a revenue neutral carbon tax and you simultaneously reduce risk to national security, avoid the need for costly EPA regulations and boost the U.S. economy.


— Jon Clark, Conewago Township






Will the Outer Banks be swamped? (letter)

UPDATED:   11/03/2014 09:01:03 AM EST

Dear Papa Dan,

We just had the most wonderful vacation on Ocracoke Island, N.C. It is my favorite place in the world. I’m so happy that you and Grandma brought our parents and us there years ago.

On our way home, a man on the ferry said that he wonders how many more years the Outer Banks will still be here, and that he is angry at the people he voted for. What does voting have to do with Ocracoke? I can vote this November — does it affect me?

Dear Granddaughter,

Oh my, we have loved Ocracoke and its people for so long. It is sort-of a second home for us. Did you know that Grandma has been going there for more than 40 years?

Scientific studies of climate change on the eastern shore have been underway for years. Those studies clearly show that the rise in sea level will most likely reach 39 inches in North Carolina before the year 2100. They also observed that the number and intensity of storms is expected to increase, and that the erosion of the Outer Banks will worsen. Most of Ocracoke is less than 60 inches above sea level already.

These studies were intended to help the folks who do long-term planning for that state. Unhappy with the findings, their Legislature essentially suppressed the studies and directed state agencies to consider only 30-year predictions.

That’s probably what the man was angry about.

I am sorry, dear, that Ocracoke won’t be there for your grandchildren. The only way I can think of to change this outcome is to vote for candidates who have a serious intention of halting carbon pollution immediately. Choose your candidates carefully, because what they do today will make or ruin your future.
Love always,

Papa Dan 

— Daniel Brocklebank, Loganville





Get out and vote (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   11/03/2014 08:33:08 AM EST

I just wanted to ask everyone to go vote on Tuesday. Voter turnout in recent years has been abysmal, and I think that may be because people are having a hard time finding candidates worth voting for. This has, I believe, had the effect of producing worse candidates and a more polarized electorate because the people who are voting are more likely to do so out of partisanship.

For the first time this year there is a race that has two candidates, neither of whom I can in good conscience vote for, so I will do a write in for a more qualified person who isn’t running. If enough other people did the same, if we could show that we will deliver votes for more reasonable candidates, more reasonable candidates will run.

Please, go vote, even if you have to do write-in votes for every candidate. It is important to show up. A voter turnout hovering around 40 percent means that you could be governed by the choice of a small and committed group of special-interest voters rather than a broad consensus of your neighbors.

— Vicki Russell, York






LETTER: Climate change and unintended consequences
York Dispatch
POSTED:   10/27/2014 10:11:50 AM EDT

In 1994 a legend in the air racing world, Daryl Greenemeyer, was working on bringing back a huge, complex and priceless Boeing B-29 that crash-landed on Greenland snow in 1947. By summer 1994 that snow had melted enough to leave "Kee Bird" sitting in a shallow melt pool on the Arctic tundra. The emergency landing had been smooth enough that after Greenemeyer's team partially restored it, it might have flown. His hyper-dedicated team eventually was able to taxi it around a frozen snow-covered lake, about to take off after their truly heroic work.

A gas can casually hung above the generator unit it fed fell onto that generator during the very bumpy taxiing and burned. The fire quickly spread, melting Kee Bird's fuselage into scorched pieces.

We humans are a piece of work. We do amazing things. But sometimes we overlook sloppiness, then find our efforts at doing good resulting instead in the extreme opposite because of that sloppiness. The Law of Unintended Consequences easily rears its ugly head. It's radically easier to destroy than to build.

One learns to sometimes step back and cast an excruciatingly critical eye at just what it is we're doing. Maybe an inner voice keeps telling us there's something that really needs our attention before it's too late.

The monetary, environmental and social costs of using a given amount of fossil fuel energy keep rising. Extrapolate that into our future and it doesn't take a genius to see that we're on the wrong energy cost curve, headed to the bottom of an economic lake via a different kind of negligence.

Look at the details in a picture of our current world. There's the conversion of our fresh water into toxic waste pools and lakes via fracking and the Alberta Tar Sands, methane flaring in the Dakotas visible from space, leak-prone deep ocean drilling rigs coming to the thawing Arctic ... plus gradually rising coastlines from the warming of increasingly acidic oceans, the destabilizing slowing of the jet stream and the rise of both drought and flood frequencies, all happening radically faster than ever before.

This isn't a right vs. left thing; it's a science thing and a preservation of our world for our grandkids thing. We can be more careful regarding our choices when we vote, for our kids and grandkids. Combustion is after all not always helpful.

ROGER TWITCHELL
York City





OP-ED: Defending their nations from climate change
By JON CLARK
Citizens' Climate Lobby
POSTED:   10/23/2014 12:41:44 PM EDT

Defending their nations from climate change

Last week Pacific Islanders from the nations of Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tokelau, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea took to outrigger canoes and blockaded the harbor mouth at the world's largest coal export facility in Newcastle, Australia, disrupting shipping traffic.

They were there to protest Australia's contribution to rising sea levels due to global warming caused by burning coal and other fossil fuels. These tiny island nations are especially vulnerable to sea level rise as their average elevation is only a meter or two above sea level and seas are rising faster than ever recorded.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "the two major causes of global sea level rise are thermal expansion of the oceans (water expands as it warms) and the loss of land-based ice due to increased melting. ... Estimates for the 20th century show that global average sea level rose at a rate of about 1.7 mm/year. Satellite observations available since the early 1990s provide more accurate sea level data with nearly global coverage. This decade-long satellite altimetry data set shows that since 1993, sea level has been rising at a rate of around 3 mm/year, significantly higher than the average during the previous half century. Coastal tide gauge measurements confirm this observation."

In a recent interview, the president of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, had this to say: "Out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, climate change has arrived. In the last year alone, my country has suffered through unprecedented droughts in the north, and the biggest ever king tides in the south; and we have watched the most devastating typhoons in history leave a trail of death and destruction across the region. Lying just 2 meters above sea level, my atoll nation stands at the frontline in the battle against climate change. The beaches of Buoj where I used to fish as a boy are already under water, and the fresh water we need to grow our food gets saltier every day. As scientists had predicted, some of our islands have already completely disappeared, gone forever under the ever-rising waves. For the Marshall Islands and our friends in the Pacific, this is already a full-blown climate emergency."

More and more, we are seeing peaceful, direct actions by people like those blockading Newcastle Harbor. But what will people do as their situation becomes more desperate? What would you do if our country was under assault from another nation? This is what we are doing, assaulting their nation. Not with guns and bombs, but with carbon pollution.

Our greenhouse gases are directly causing the warming of the planet and raising sea levels. Ninety-seven percent of climate researchers and every relevant scientific organization agree with this. The people of the Marshall Islands contribute very little to the problem, but are paying the most.

The continued pumping of massive quantities of carbon pollution by wealthier industrial nations into the atmosphere for free, thereby raising sea levels and altering our climate, is a gross injustice on the people of these island nations — the poor people of nations who can least afford to adapt to climate change — and future generations.

There is a fix to this. Conservative economists overwhelmingly agree a carbon tax is the simplest, fairest and most efficient way of dealing with climate change. It's only fair that those who are burning the fossil fuels should pay more for the "privilege" of doing so. Return all of the revenue collected to consumers equally from a steadily rising carbon tax to protect the poor and middle class from higher fossil fuel costs and provide financial incentive to lower your carbon footprint.

So what happened to the flotilla of canoes defending their nations? Police used boats to push back the canoes to clear the way for ship traffic, no charges were filed and business as usual continued. The islanders likely returned home to plan what action they will take next, for I doubt these people will just remain silent and drown with their homes. Would you?

— Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby and lives in Dover.






LETTER: Linda Small an independent voice
York Dispatch
POSTED:   10/21/2014 09:55:20 AM EDT

Linda Small, candidate for Pennsylvania's 28th Senate District seat, has a strong background in service as a master chief petty officer in the Navy. This position involves extensive management and analytical skills. She now continues her civic responsibility in her willingness to run for this legislative position.

Linda supports greater education funding by imposing a severance tax on energy companies. In addition to funding education, which will invest in our children's future, she will promote clean energy initiatives to benefit a healthy environment for all citizens. Investing in clean energy initiatives would provide much-needed jobs in the state in addition to reducing energy costs for school districts.

Linda will be an independent voice in Harrisburg, using her military background to thoroughly study the issues and make informed decisions in the best interests of her constituents. We need her in Harrisburg. Please vote for Linda Small on Nov. 4.

CAROL DOWNS BRADY
York City






4 reasons to vote for Small (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   10/20/2014 01:05:22 PM EDT


Why should you vote for Linda Small for state senator?

One: She has just been named Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of the Year.

Two: She became a Chief Petty Officer on board a navy carrier in charge of 1,900 young men and women. Admiral Joe Sestak said, “It is harder to become a chief petty officer than to become an admiral. Linda was much above average and did a magnificent job.”

Three: Linda taught weather.

Four: Linda is for the little guy and not for big business and the rich.

So wouldn't it be wise for the people of York County to vote for someone who has proven herself by serving our country in a stellar fashion and embodies the qualities of Eleanor Roosevelt? Wouldn’t it be great to have an authority on weather when matters of global warming and energy come before the state Legislature?

And remember, Linda Small is for the majority of us, not for the rich.
Think big, vote Small.

— Barbara L. Gold, Spring Garden Township






We need Small in Senate (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   10/20/2014 09:04:50 AM EDT


Linda Small, candidate for the 28th state senatorial seat, has a strong background in service as a master chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy. This position involves extensive management and analytical skills. She now continues her civic responsibility in her willingness to run for this legislative position.

Linda supports greater education funding by imposing a severance tax on energy companies. In addition to funding education, which will invest in our children’s future, she will promote clean energy initiatives to benefit a healthy environment for all citizens. Investing in clean energy initiatives would provide much-needed jobs in the state in addition to reducing energy costs for school districts.

Linda will be an independent voice in Harrisburg, using her military background to thoroughly study the issues and make informed decisions in the best interests of her constituents. We need her in Harrisburg. Please vote for Linda Small on Nov. 4.

— Carol Downs Brady, York






Small a better choice than Wagner (letter)
UPDATED:   10/17/2014 02:32:52 PM EDT

Linda Small is definitely the most qualified candidate for the Pennsylvania state Senate 28th District. She's intelligent, well informed, hard working and has no axe to grind. She will not be a Scott Wagner “one trick pony,” constantly harping on and harassing unions, even comparing them with Hitler and Vladimir Putin. This, to the point of ignoring important issues.

We need someone who will focus on the main problems. Our education system and the funding for this system. Someone who will not deny there were education cuts in the past four years, as Wagner does. He needs to speak with some of the 18,000 teachers who lost their jobs. They'll tell him how real the cuts were.

Linda realizes a large part of the problem is corporate welfare. Yes, our state has a high corporate tax rate, but few corporations really pay it. They use legal loopholes to pay 3, 4or even less than 1 percent. So what we see is not really the dollars we get. As Linda states on her website, Pennsylvania already subsidizes oil, gas and coal corporations to the tune of $2.9 billion per year.

Scott Wagner wants even more tax breaks for business. Guess who pays for all these giveaways? The payment always comes in the form of higher property taxes.

Linda Small is the real candidate for change. She cares about the environment and the health of our citizens. She realizes how structurally deficient our infrastructure is.
 
Scott Wagner professes to be anti-establishment, but donated $40,000 to Corbett's 2010 campaign and has asked constituents to vote again for a governor who has done nothing but damage to our state.

— Sandra Gordon, Springettsbury Township






The people speak out: We want climate leadership from all leaders (letter)
UPDATED:   10/17/2014 01:34:28 PM EDT

On Sept. 21, a crowd of 100,000 people were expected to arrive in New York City for what was to be the largest climate march ever held. Four times that many actually showed up — 400,000 people jammed onto the streets to voice their concern about our rapidly changing climate to world leaders who were visiting the U.N. that week for a special climate summit.

I was part of the crowd, along with two busloads of folks who I rode with from the York, Lancaster and Harrisburg areas. I've done many rallies, protests and marches for our climate, but I've never seen one this large. A diverse crowd of people were there.

A wide variety of signs showed concern for many aspects of climate change. Signs showed concern for the extreme weather events that are worsening, for rising temperatures and sea levels (a favorite of mine said "Nobody Panic, but learn to swim"), for health concerns from carbon pollution, for the rights of the poor and indigenous peoples who are already being affected, and for future generations, to name a few.

But also, just as many signs showing solutions to the problem could be seen, giving me a feeling of not only urgency in addressing the problem, but also hope that it can be done. Signs promoted solutions such as veganism, divestment from fossil fuels, permaculture, putting a price on carbon and renewable energy.
It was a fun day that left me invigorated to return home and continue my efforts to get Congress to pass serious climate change legislation, namely a revenue neutral carbon tax that will begin to phase out the fossil fuels that are warming the planet.

The next day, the $860-million Rockefeller Brothers Fund the philanthropic organization set up by the heirs of oil baron John D. Rockefeller announced they intend to join the growing divestment movement to remove coal, oil and natural gas from their invested assets. According to The New York Times: "In recent years, 180 institutions including philanthropies, religious organizations, pension funds, and local governments as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors, have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies from their portfolios and to invest in cleaner alternatives."

This comes after the World Council of Churches, a global coalition of 345 churches representing more than half a billion Christians worldwide, announced in July that it would recommend its member churches pull all of their investments in fossil fuels, saying it had determined the investments were no longer ethical.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the World Council of Churches realize the hidden costs we are imposing on the planet and society by burning fossil fuels and are responsibly shifting investment dollars toward clean, carbon-free, forms of energy. These hidden costs include damages from increasing extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding, rising healthcare costs due to air and water pollution, direct subsidies to the fossil fuels industry, and more.

A recent article on carbontaxcenter.org put it more bluntly, saying "Free dumping of CO2 pollution into the atmosphere is nothing less than 'theft' from future generations who stand to suffer from unabated global warming, declared University of Chicago economist Steve Cicala at a symposium last week in honor of the conservative icon Milton Friedman. 'It is theft,' said Cicala. 'That's a loaded term, but if someone else has a better term for taking something from someone without their consent and without compensating them, I'd be happy to hear it.'"
Congress can stop the theft and similarly shift investment dollars by passing a steadily rising carbon tax and return 100 percent of the revenue back to consumers. This would price fossil fuels closer to their true cost and reduce the cost of clean, carbon-free forms of energy to consumers. A recent study from Regional Economic Modeling Inc. showed that a revenue neutral carbon tax would boost our economy and increase National employment by 2.1 million jobs after 10 years, and 2.8 million after 20 years, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions 33 percent after only 10 years, and 52 percent after 20 years.

The 400,000 people who showed up at the climate march in New York and the hundreds of thousands who joined us at 2,500 other demonstrations held in London, Berlin, Johannesburg, Paris, Rio, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Delhi, and Melbourne, to name a few, show a growing global mobilization of people around the world who want world leaders and Congress to act.

"This is surely a moment that demands unprecedented collective action," said Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. "We can no longer tinker about the edges. We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow. For there will be no tomorrow. We are on the cusp of a global transition to a new safe energy economy, a transition that unites people in common purpose, advances collective well-being and ensures the survival of our species."

Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby and lives in Dover.






Toomey deceptive on clean water rules (letter)
UPDATED:   10/17/2014 12:07:42 PM EDT


I’m tired of Sen. Pat Toomey misleading the public about the facts of proposals that help our children have healthy lives, while providing us clean rivers to use for drinking water and fishing.

A local TV news station reported on Toomey’s remarks during a recent press conference that the EPA was proposing to regulate ditches, farm water and even water that sits around for just a few days, like puddles. Toomey voted in the Senate to suspend all EPA pollution rules. Apparently his arguments for abolishing the EPA are so weak that he feels the need to deceive us on what the EPA is actually doing to ensure we have clean water. The truth is that the EPA exempts farmlands from its proposal; its regulations specifically state “puddles” are not covered either, nor are ditches or irrigation streams for farms.

The rule would not include more water to be covered than the original Clean Water Act passed in 1972. It merely clarifies the “test” to ensure waters such as puddles or irrigation streams are not covered by the Act. At the same time, it makes clear that Pennsylvania’s streams and wetlands are not susceptible to pollution.

Toomey also said that government regulations cost a family $15,000 a year.

That’s extremely deceitful because the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said that if the study Toomey cited had not “misinterpreted” the data, the cost would be cut by two-thirds. Moreover, the Office of Management and Budget said that if the benefits of, for example, not putting sewage in our drinking water were included, the overall savings to America’s families were between $85 billion and $562 billion and therefore the number Toomey used was “inherently flawed.”

Voting to end all EPA rules is one thing, but Toomey misleading Pennsylvanians of the facts is another.
 
-- Bob Kefauver, chairman, Democratic Party of York County






Fix methane leaks at gas wells (letter)
UPDATED:   10/16/2014 10:51:15 AM EDT


We are fortunate that Pennsylvania abounds with places where we can get back to nature. We have special places close to home like Pinchot State Park, the Yellow Breeches and the Susquehanna River, and in an easy two-hour drive, wilderness lands such as the Loyalsock State Forest. 

Unfortunately, our air quality is suffering as oil and gas operations expand, due to methane leaking from equipment and pipelines. Parts of Pennsylvania, including many of our urban centers including those in Central Pennsylvania, have some of the worst air quality in the nation, according to the American Lung Association. To make matters worse, the main component of that leaking gas, methane, is also a powerful greenhouse gas.

Fortunately, natural gas operations don’t have to pollute. Companies can significantly reduce methane leaks while maintaining a very healthy, profitable operation. It’s time for Pennsylvania and DEP to follow other states’ leads such as Colorado and Ohio. Require natural gas operators to reduce leaks and clean up the air so we can all continue to enjoy the great outdoors. The technology is there, we just need to have the will to require the multi-billion-dollar industry to treat Pennsylvania and its citizens like they have a right to be treated.

— John Norbeck, Fairview Township






It’s time for a change (letter)
UPDATED:   10/16/2014 10:48:52 AM EDT


Anyone that has followed the workings of our state government over the past four years must admit that they are unhappy with the results. It’s time for a change in leadership. This governor has failed us in many ways. However, I will focus on just one area, that being the environment. 

Pennsylvania’s natural beauty is prized by residents and non-residents alike. We have 16.7 million acres of woodland to cool and filter our air. We have 2.4 million acres of state forests, and 300,000 acres of state parks, as well as thousands of miles of great waterways. 

Nevertheless, the health of these resources and our own physical health are both at risk because our leadership is not adequately protecting our environment. Our state lands are being fracked, over 2,500 miles of our waterways are pollution impaired, we rate second in the nation for toxic air pollution, and we rate 29th in overall personal health. 

One would expect that our Department of Environmental Protection would do their part to protect our air, water and land. However, our governor has “heavy handed” their operation so as to protect his big business campaign contributors instead of protecting us. It is our responsibility as taxpayers to ensure that we and our environment are protected. It is time for a change in our leadership. 

— Martin Reed, York





Americans need to learn about climate change

The People's Climate March in New York City.

Posted: Sunday, October 5, 2014 6:00 am
BY JIM SANDOE | Special to Lancaster Newspapers

Two Sundays ago, more than 100 people from the Lancaster area joined an estimated crowd of 400,000 for The People’s Climate March in New York City.

Marchers came by bus — two buses from Lancaster — by train, and by subway (even the extra cars added couldn’t keep up with demand). They came from every state and more than a dozen foreign countries.

“Parents pushed babies in strollers and seniors marched with walkers — a true intergenerational experience,” noted Tom Harner of Lancaster.

“It was an amazing spectacle, a huge street festival, a study in human variety and creative expression,” said Anne Sensenig who came with several members of Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster.

Barry Stoner of Elizabethtown offered an explanation as to why housewives, senior citizens, students — people of all faiths — had traveled to New York City for the march.  “All take what scientists are saying about climate change seriously, and all are extremely concerned,” he said. “They understand the very dire consequences that will result if we do not act now to dramatically lower our carbon emissions.”

I really started looking into the science of climate change after I retired three years ago. I also started taking college courses on climate so that I could understand the science better.

There is just too much being pumped into the atmosphere right now — carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur dioxide.
And asthma rates are going through the roof, especially in children. I see it my family and so do most people with children.

 We are supposed to take care of the Earth and make it better. Instead, we are driving it to the brink.
Faith groups and justice groups comprised a high percentage of the 1500- plus groups who took part in the climate march.

This is because the climate issue is a moral issue.

The People’s Climate march was timed to get the attention of the U.N. Climate Summit which convened in New York the same week.

We want our leaders to know that we are watching and that we expect action.

I marched because I feel the public still needs to be educated on this issue.

Several recent studies show that the U.S. population as one of the least engaged of nations surveyed on this issue.
Talking to many people, in the past two years, one of the most common statements I hear is this: “It will hurt the economy; people will lose their jobs.”

This assertion has been around for 20 years and it’s just not true.

The most comprehensive report ever done about the interaction of the climate and our economy was just released at the end of June.

“The Economic, Climate, Fiscal, Power and Demographic Impact of a National Fee-And-Dividend Carbon Tax” was released by REMI, an international economic modeling company.

This report shows that adding a carbon fee at the point of extraction and returning 100 percent of revenues collected to American households will add 2.8 million additional jobs in the next 20 years while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 52 percent.

This can be done!

Understanding the issue of climate change is vital to our future.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby has proposed specific legislation that would help control carbon dioxide in our atmosphere without harming the economy.

This was presented to almost all 535 members of Congress in June.

In late September, I joined Jerry Lee Miller, the group leader of the Lancaster chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, in meeting with Congressman Joe Pitts in his Lancaster office.

We showed the congressman the economic benefits of passing a revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend plan.
I was encouraged by the questions that he asked.

Our children, our grandchildren and people throughout the world are threatened by global climate disruptions.
The Pentagon says “Climate change is a threat multiplier.”

The long drought in Syria, for instance, sent a million farmers off their land and into the cities. The government ignored their plight and the climate for civil war was built.

Would today’s war with the Islamic State be happening if that drought hadn’t destroyed Syria’s agriculture?

Jim Sandoe of Ephrata is a member of the Citizens' Climate Control Lobby of Lancaster.





Great day for a march
Lancasteronline.com
Posted: Monday, October 6, 2014 4:44 pm

I am grateful to the people in the Lancaster chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby for arranging for not just one bus but eventually two 55-passenger buses for 97 people to get to and from the People's Climate March in New York City. (That works out to 267 to 291 miles per gallon per person.)
 
Those two buses were among 500 buses associated with the event in which 400,000 people participated. We were expecting 150,000 to 200,000, and 400,000 showed up. People care about climate change.
It was amazing to be part of something so huge. Photos show it stretching literally from horizon to horizon along Eighth Avenue, and that was just the assembly area and start of the route. While the sheer size of the march appeared to possibly be a bit much even for New York City, it was so peaceful the NYPD officers looked quite relaxed.
The march made it cheerfully clear that people concerned about climate change are mainstream people of the whole world. We're speaking up and, most importantly, we make sense.
The poster art the Lancaster Citizens’ Climate Lobby brought was so good that everyone, including Franciscan monks from Rome, was asking for copies.
It was very clear that people of York and Lancaster share common ground on this issue. Working together, we can get great things done.
Roger Twitchell
York
Volunteer
Citizens' Climate Lobby of York






LETTER: 400,000 perfectly normal, concerned Americans
York Dispatch
POSTED:   10/01/2014 11:50:58 AM EDT | UPDATED:   2 DAYS AGO


Some consider those who concern themselves with the challenge of climate change to be some sort of fringe loony group.

Well, about 400,000 such concerned people recently marched in New York City at the People's Climate March. The TV networks did a great job grossly low-balling it during their few seconds of coverage of it here and there. If you want to see dramatic pictures of arrests and resistance, sorry, there wasn't a single arrest.

In fact, an online image search will show 400,000 people peacefully, generally cheerfully drawing attention to the need to address climate change.

I was there. There were plenty of youth, kids, some toddlers even, plus lots of senior citizens. The whole wide spectrum of totally normal Americans were there expressing concern about something that's just getting worse and has started to mess things up faster than climate models predicted.

When some 400,000 people get together at one place to draw attention to something, that suggests it isn't simply nuts and freaks who care about it. Any ideas that those concerned about climate change can be weakened by isolating them got pretty well shattered.

We the people are awake, and we're speaking up in ways that make perfectly good, rational sense.

To quote one person's sign about the challenge of climate change:

"I can't believe I'm having to protest. Is it not obvious?"

That's precisely how I feel about it.

ROGER TWITCHELL
York City
Citizens' Climate Lobby






A yummy way to lower your carbon footprint (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   09/30/2014 04:48:53 PM EDT


Did you know you can easily get protein from veggies? Neither did I until recently. Peas, beans, seeds, broccoli, dark greens, even cocoa powder are all good sources of protein. Seitan, from wheat gluten, is a fantastic protein substitute that looks like duck meat and tastes like chicken. So you don’t need to cook something from some confined area feeding operation (CAFO) animal factory to get lots of protein.

The energy in food is all low on the food chain, so it just makes a lot of sense to eat good, fresh fruits and veggies instead of some animal that ate vegetation for you. Go direct to the source. Kitchen cleanup is also simpler for vegetarians, since there’s never any bones or waste fat to deal with. Vegetarian food waste can all be composted, fed back into making new veggies the next year.

You can get wonderfully fresh, crisp, stuffed-with-flavor fruits and veggies from farm stands, which are also friendlier than self-scan-reliant supermarkets. Plus, a vegan I know finds filling up on DIY veggie smoothies saves him lots of money.

I have a dwarf Golden Delicious apple tree in my urban backyard that’s producing quite well — I love apples anyway, but wow, these make supermarket stuff seem synthetic or something. I’m not a foodie by any means, but fresh-picked stuff is just so darned good.
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And if you have an annual too-many-tomatoes gardening issue, fresh tomato juice is so good you just have to sit back and take time to absorb the sheer wonderfulness of it. Yes, gardening takes time, but getting your hands into good soil and getting fresh, real food on the table from that garden help make a good, quality life.

— Roger Twitchell, York






Corbett should support alternative energy (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   09/26/2014 04:22:14 PM EDT


Re: Viewpoints, Sept. 21: “A look at Pa.’s teachers and the missing $7.3 billion,” by Kelly Lewis.
While I can agree that Gov. Corbett should not be assigned full blame for Gov. Rendell’s failure to adequately fund education, pensions or infrastructure, I disagree with Lewis’ statement that Rendell “wasted billions on now-failing alternative energy schemes” and that he diverted money “into dubious and nefarious schemes.”

Pennsylvania was the state with the nation’s first nuclear power plant and the world’s first commercial oil well, so it was appropriate for Gov. Rendell to make plans for clean, alternative energy in the commonwealth while other regional states, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Ohio, did likewise.

The following graph shows the total renewable power generation from 2002-2011 in Pennsylvania — reflecting how fast the renewable sector was growing under Rendell’s administrations. Pennsylvania went from 3,500,000 kwh to nearly 8,000,000 kwh in nine years. Further, Pennsylvania was in the top 10 states nationally in generation from biomass and solar.


With Rendell’s plans and focused funding there was progress in Pennsylvania toward reducing carbon pollution, but a PennEnvironment report, “Moving America Forward,” reflects that Pennsylvania could be playing a much larger role today in reducing carbon pollution by strengthening energy policies and thus moving Pennsylvania toward meeting national carbon emissions standards. It is Gov. Corbett and anti-science conservative Republicans who have stymied further alternative energy gains with wind, solar and geothermal. Under Corbett we have lagged behind due to the opposition from power companies, the coal industry and other big polluters who have benefited from lobbying for roadblocks. Groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association have launched campaigns to block or undermine the federal carbon limits.

Corbett has supported alternative energy, but it seems that the majority of projects that get his financial help through grants are for the natural gas industry with which Corbett has a too cozy relationship. If Pennsylvania falls behind in other alternative energy sources it is Corbett who takes the hit.

— Henry Senatore, Hanover






Little coverage of climate change march (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   09/24/2014 12:13:35 PM EDT


About 400,000 people concerned about our inaction on climate change marched in New York City last Sunday at the People’s Climate March. The TV networks did a great job grossly low-balling it during their few seconds of coverage of it here and there. There were no dramatic pictures of arrests and resistance because there wasn’t a single arrest. An online image search will show 400,000 people peacefully, generally cheerfully drawing attention to the need to address climate change in some really creative ways.

I was there. There were plenty of youth, kids, some toddlers even, plus lots of senior citizens. The whole wide spectrum of totally normal Americans were there expressing concern about something that’s just getting worse and has started to mess things up faster than climate models predicted.

When some 400,000 people get together at one place to draw attention to something, that suggests it has the attention of the majority of Americans. And so any ideas that those concerned about climate change can be weakened by isolating them are now pretty well shattered.

We the people are awake, and we’re speaking up in ways that make perfectly good, rational sense.

To quote one person’s sign about inaction on climate change: “I can’t believe I’m having to protest. Is it not obvious???”

That’s precisely how I see it.

— Roger Twitchell, York






LETTER: Tom Wolf has plan for climate change
York Dispatch
POSTED:   09/17/2014 09:27:20 AM EDT0 COMMENTS

The overwhelming majority of scientists have made it clear they are as certain we are warming the planet by burning fossil fuels as they are that cigarettes kill.

The World Meteorological Organization just announced in their annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin that the increase of atmospheric CO2 from 2012 to 2013 was the largest year-to-year increase in 30 years. Globally, we are failing our responsibility to our children by not seriously addressing global warming, a problem we are only making worse.

Thank you to Tom Wolf for acting responsibly and showing leadership on the most important issue to ever face mankind by already having a detailed plan on his website for Pennsylvania to reduce greenhouse gases. By contrast, Tom Corbett doesn't mention climate change on his website.

We can see in the news on a daily basis what ignoring climate change leads to: increased risk of flooding, droughts and wildfires; rising sea levels; the spread of new diseases into our region; stronger storms and increased storm damage; and economic loss.

We need leadership at all levels now to address the climate crisis so we can preserve the environment for our children and grandchildren.

MIKE OMLOR
Washington Twp.






Letter: A climate march
by Jerry Lee Miller
Posted: Friday, September 19, 2014 6:00 am


I have two artificial knees, an arthritic hip and fallen arches, but this Sunday I'll be marching in New York City with 250,000 of my closest friends, including at least 120 from Lancaster County.
 
Why? I guess you could say that I have the old-fashioned idea that people still have the power to bring about change. You could also say that I believe people are still called to work for their neighbors' good.

That's why I'll be at the People's Climate March with all the others who are marching for a world with an economy that works for the people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

We know that world leaders, including our own president, are about to gather for a landmark U.N. climate summit. We expect them to move beyond talk and face the challenge of climate change head-on. We also know our job is not done after one march, no matter how huge it may be. When we return home, we'll be working to educate our community and our leaders, including U.S. Reps. Joe Pitts and Pat Meehan and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, on the urgency of the situation. And we'll be seeking ways we can work together to find the best solutions.

Jerry Lee Miller
Manheim Township






LETTER: Carbon tax study released
York Dispatch
by Roger Twitchell
UPDATED:   09/04/2014 10:08:57 AM EDT

We all clearly see how hard the economy has become. Minimizing domestic manufacturing helped lead to the disaster of 2008. Petroleum costs have been a tightening noose around the economy's neck for over a decade — whenever things have picked up, gas prices rise up farther. We see the significant rising costs of environmental disasters such as the drought/water scarcity/forest fire/pine bark infection mess that the entire American West has been having an increasingly horrible struggle with.

The Green types, with their solar panels and plug-in cars, love to hype their Green Economy model, with its 100 percent revenue neutral carbon fee and dividend (F&D).

But where's the hard analysis of "Would it work"?

It's finally here in full. Regional Economic Modelling, Inc. (REMI) is a well-established independent firm (not a think tank) that did a thorough economic projection of how life would look like with that 100 percent refunded-to-households F&D vs. business as usual (BAU).

Here's what it found, in summary, based on starting with a $10 per ton fully household-refunded carbon fee in 2016, then rising $10 per year to 2035:

•National employment increases by 2.1 million jobs after 10 years, and 2.8 million after 20 years, a 1 percent increase in total U.S. employment vs. BAU.

•13,000 lives are saved annually after 10 years, with a cumulative 227,000 American lives saved over 20 years.

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•GDP increases annually by $70 billion to $85 billion from 2020 on, cumulative increase in national GDP due to F&D of $1.375 trillion.

•Regional Gross Product is steady or rising in 8 of 9 regions.

•Monthly dividend for a family of four with two adults in 2025 equals $288; in 2035 it equals $396. Annually, that's $1,152 per capita (children get half a dividend).

•Electricity prices peak in 2026, then start to decrease.

•Real incomes increase by more than $500 per person in 2025, accounting for cost of living increases.

•Maximum cost-of-living increase by 2035 is 1.7 percent to 2.5 percent, depending on region.

•Biggest employment gains in health care, retail and other services (excluding public administration). This is because people have more money in their pockets to spend, and these industries are labor-intensive, responding to increased consumer spending by creating more jobs.

CO2 emissions decline 33 percent after only 10 years, and 52 percent after 20 years relative to BAU.

So backing ourselves away from our combustion dependency will grow the economy long term, a far better path than the one we're on now.

ROGER TWITCHELL
Citizens' Climate Lobby
York City






We need vacation air in York (letter)
by Roger Twitchell
UPDATED:   09/02/2014 12:50:10 PM EDT

August is when many of us might use a little vacation time, maybe some place by a lake where we have many years of very fond memories.

We escape from York’s well-known air quality issues. We might visit a place where you can see whole constellations at night, maybe even the Milky Way. It’s where we can really breathe and relax.

We re-create ourselves by unwinding a year’s worth of tension. We can hear our own thoughts, which are rejuvenated by a break from 24/7 interconnectedness.

And then we come back here, seeing how an underemployed neighbor with asthma is doing.

Wouldn’t it be so nice to get some of that vacation air back here to York?

We can bring some of that vacation’s environmental health here to York, where local ancestors had strong ties to the health of their farmland.

If enough of us dedicate ourselves to that noble task, we, working together, can absolutely bring some of that restoring environment here. If enough bike to work, pollution (car fumes plus noise) will decrease as our health improves. If enough go for now-affordable rooftop solar and/or wind power, we can back away from our current dependency on coal-fired power plants with their room-sized bag filters and huge electrostatic stack filters keeping our air from resembling that of 1940 Pittsburgh. We can encourage trucking firms to spend a little extra on semis that will cost them less in fuel over time, and save us all on health costs over that same time span. We can shop at locally sourced family farm stands.

Is it worth it? Know anyone with asthma or other pollution-caused issues? Ask them and their kids if they’d consider it worthwhile. What do you think?

— Roger Twitchell, York






OP-ED: More extremes due to climate change
By JON CLARK
Citizens' Climate Lobby
POSTED:   08/26/2014 09:32:05 AM EDT

While the West Coast deals with drought, wildfires and hot weather, states east of the Rockies were dealing with a deluge of rainfall earlier this month.

On Wednesday, Aug. 13, Islip, N.Y., got a serious taste of what climate change looks like when over 13 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period, shattering N.Y.'s previous record set in 2011 when Tropical Strom Irene dumped 11.6 inches of rain on Tarrytown, N.Y.

According to The Washington Post, "Incredibly, over 11 inches (11.19 ) of rain fell in three hours, between 5 and 8 a.m. About 10 inches (9.81 ) of rain fell in two hours, a phenomenal quantity of water in such a short time. No hurricane or tropical storm to affect New York State has produced such an output."

That same day, a large area south of Baltimore received 8 inches of rain, delaying flights from BWI and immersing parked cars half way under water in the long-term parking lot. On Aug. 11, Detroit suffered the heaviest rains in almost a century, as flooding became so bad that a police scuba dive team checked more than 70 vehicles on Interstate 94 on Tuesday morning to look for drivers that may have been trapped in submerged vehicles.

According to the National Climate Assessment released this year (http://nca2014.globalchange.gov), "The Northeast has experienced a greater recent increase in extreme precipitation than any other region in the U.S.; between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70 percent increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1 percent of all daily events). This increase, combined with coastal and riverine flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge, creates increased risks. For all of these reasons, public health, agriculture, transportation, communications, and energy systems in the Northeast all face climate-related challenges."

Climate change is making flooding in our region more frequent and more intense.

Climate scientists explain it this way: In a world warmed by burning fossil fuels releasing heat-trapping greenhouse gases, there's more evaporation, and a warmer atmosphere holds more water. When that water vapor condenses as rain or snow, there's more of it.

Flooding is just one of the consequences of living in a warming world.

Sea level rise, extreme flooding and droughts, heat waves and wildfires are all putting an increased burden on our infrastructure and our economy. In June a group of highly respected economists and climate scientists from the Risky Business Project released a report titled "Risky Business, The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States" (www.riskybusiness.org).

"The report's conclusions demonstrated the significant harm that climate change is causing now and that will almost certainly be far more severe in the future — to the agricultural, energy and coastal-property sectors, as well as to public health and labor productivity more generally," according to Robert Rubin, one of Risks committee members.

Who foots the bill from damages caused by these increasing extreme precipitation events? Ultimately, you and I do.

Who should be footing the bill when it comes due? The fossil fuels industry.

Each and every one of us is being forced to pay for the damages caused by burning fossil fuels, both in dollars and lost lives due to the harmful effects of carbon pollution. The true cost is not being paid at the pump so to speak, but instead in the form of higher taxes, healthcare costs and insurance premiums or flat out losses due to lack of coverage from extreme weather events.

What we need now is a transparent, steadily rising carbon tax placed on fossil fuels that would reduce consumption and shift investment to carbon-free sources of energy, thereby reducing the risk of damages from extreme weather events. A hundred percent of the revenue collected should be returned to every household equally so as not to swamp our economy.

A recent study by the economic modeling firm Regional Economic Modeling Inc. (REMI) showed such a carbon tax would boost our economy and result in a net job creation of 2.1 million jobs after 10 years, an increase in GDP by $70 billion to $85 billion from 2020 on, and reduce CO2 emissions 33 percent over 10 years.

While flooding from extreme precipitation affects millions of people across the country, billions of dollars in profits are flooding into the fossil fuels industry, draining our economy as taxpayers get soaked when they are forced to foot the bill for damages.

As Robert Rubin put it in a Washington Post op-ed recently: "We do not face a choice between protecting our environment or protecting our economy. We face a choice between protecting our economy by protecting our environment — or allowing environmental havoc to create economic havoc."

— Jon Clark is the Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby.






Climate science literacy from A to Z (column)
By Keith Peterman
UPDATED:   08/22/2014 01:51:09 PM EDT0 COMMENTS

More than 15,000 chemists recently gathered in San Francisco for the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. The theme for our national meeting is "Chemistry and Global Stewardship."

I spent an evening in Mountain View, a community situated in the heart of Silicon Valley. "Global Stewardship" was on my mind during my morning walk. It was a short stroll from my apartment, up and over a high pedestrian bridge traversing busy Route 101 beneath, en route to the Shoreline walking/biking path. While on the pedestrian overpass, I reflected on the bustling dense collection of commuters beneath. Each auto, bus and truck was spewing roughly three pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per pound of petroleum-derived fuel consumed — a number easily calculated by any chemist.

I continued on to the macadam walking/bike path which hugged a stagnant, algae-covered stream to my left. I watched as a duck dunked its head beneath the shallow standing water foraging for plant life beneath. Less than 50 yards further along, I saw a collection of anthropogenic (human) rubbish in the stream — a bike, soccer ball, paper cup and plastic bottle closely mingled. About 200 yards farther up the path, I passed by Google Headquarters to my right.

Walking beneath gray overcast skies, my thoughts circled back to an opinion by Kenneth Mummert that was recently published in the York Daily Record (March 27). Mr. Mummert presented his personal views of "Climate Nonsense, from A to Z," ranging from "A fraud, A scam" to "Zip your jacket for a cold spring." I pondered how each of the author's 26 alphabet-derived ideological snippets was much like the duck with its noggin stuck beneath the surface, oblivious to nearby adverse anthropogenic impacts. If he would pull his ideological head out of the sound-bite muck and "Go" up an information path to "Ogle" a bit — that is, "Google" climate change articles online — he would likely increase his climate literacy.

This brings me back to the national ACS meeting in San Francisco. In an unambiguous message for policymakers, ACS states, "climate change is happening (and) it is creating abrupt, radical change."

Greg Foy and I organized a student-focused symposium titled "Global Stewardship by Increasing Climate Science Literacy" for this ACS meeting. Multiple presenters, including some former York College students, will offer scientific insights aimed at increasing climate literacy among students and young adults. In the interest of "Global Stewardship," I offer a collection of my own 26 "A to Z Climate Literacy" statements. These can be readily verified and expanded upon by Googling the statement "climate change." Or, better yet, use "Google Scholar" to specifically search scholarly articles.

A. Anthropogenic effects clearly emerge as major cause.

B. Black carbon (soot) from diesel and coal is major contributor.

C. Carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere increased from 280 ppm to 400 ppm since the onset of the industrial revolution.

D. Desertification affects a third of the world's land surface.

E. Extreme weather events occurring as predicted by computer models.

F. Feedback loop accelerates warming trend.

G. Global warming potential (GWP) of methane (CH4, natural gas) is 23 times greater than CO2.

H. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have GWP hundreds of times greater than CO2.

I. Island nations are disappearing below rising sea levels.

J. Joint implementation provides credits to wealthy donor countries for helping developing host counties.

K. Keeling Curve records high precision, high accuracy instrumental measurements of CO2 in our atmosphere.

L. Land use change in forestry and agriculture impact emissions and removal of CO2.

M. Mitigation efforts are required to limit severity.

N. NASA satellite data continue to document multiple planetary changes.

O. Ocean levels are rising.

P. Polar bears are at risk.

Q. Quantified emissions reductions must be binding.

R. Receding glaciers worldwide are most visible indicator.

S. Species redistribution is occurring on every continent and in most oceans.

T. Two-degree rise in average global temperature is predicted by mid-2030s.

U. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change seeks to prevent dangerous human interference.

V. Vector-borne diseases are spreading.

W. Women are more adversely impacted than men.

X. Xenon (Xe) is a member of the Nobel Gas family, along with Argon (Ar), the third most abundant gas in our atmosphere.

Y. Yak flatulence, which along with sheep, cow, and other ruminant belching and flatulence, emit methane gas (CH4).

Z. Zero carbon economy needed to avoid climate catastrophe.

Keith Peterman is a chemistry professor at York College. This piece originally appeared at www.yorkblog.com/hot.






Support for clean air laws (letter)
By Gail A. Varcelotti and Tony Ruppert
UPDATED:   08/22/2014 01:50:30 PM EDT0 COMMENTS

Pennsylvania reports some of the unhealthiest levels of air pollution nationwide, even after decades of cleaning up our air. File - YORK DAILY
Pennsylvania reports some of the unhealthiest levels of air pollution nationwide, even after decades of cleaning up our air. File - YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWSL
You may think climate change won't hit us until years down the road, but respiratory therapists here in York County and around Pennsylvania can tell you that climate change threatens the health of our patients now.

Pennsylvania reports some of the unhealthiest levels of air pollution nationwide, even after decades of cleaning up our air. While improvements have certainly been made, York County still earned a failing grade for ozone pollution on the American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" Report Card this year. Unfortunately, climate change is increasing the likelihood that York County will have more high ozone days in the summers to come. This is because the warmer temperatures that come from the changing climate help to create ozone.

My patients suffer when our air pollution is high. Ozone is a powerful lung irritant that causes inflammation and can trigger asthma attacks and even cause premature death. Medically, I can only do so much when it's the very air my patients are breathing that's making them sick.

While air pollution harms even healthy adults, it makes life dangerous for my patients suffering from existing respiratory and cardiac diseases. The most vulnerable among us — the elderly, low income families and people already struggling with chronic diseases like asthma, emphysema or COPD — face increased risk for ER visits and more missed days of school and work.

Treating children with these issues is even more concerning, because they are far more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. Children's lungs take years to fully develop, and consistent exposure to air pollution can cause permanent damage that affects their breathing for the rest of their lives. As an area resident and parent, our air quality concerns me for the health of my own family.

Fortunately, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is tackling this threat. EPA has proposed the first-ever standards to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants. Cutting carbon pollution will not only help fight climate change, it will cut other pollutants that also threaten our health. EPA estimates that the first year that the standards are in place, we can prevent 100,000 pediatric asthma attacks. That first year, roughly 4,000 people nationwide will not die prematurely from breathing polluted air.

We need to commit to saving the lives of as many of our fellow Pennsylvanians as we can. To do that, we need serious and long-overdue action to curb carbon emissions from the coal-fired plants in Pennsylvania. The EPA's proposed limits promote a long term investment in the health of our children, parents, grandparents and neighbors who are suffering every day as a result of toxic pollutants released into the air we breathe.

You have many ways to let EPA know how important curbing carbon emissions is to protecting our health; the agency is taking comments from the public until Oct. 16. I urge my fellow health and medical practitioners to speak up to protect their patients. If we support a strong carbon standard, we'll help to protect each other's families, friends and neighbors from the pollution that makes them sick and causes them to seek our care.

No child with asthma should have to suffer from the panic of not being able to get enough air, of coughing painfully and wheezing as their already narrow airways constrict from breathing pollution. No one should have his or her life cut short because we failed to take climate change seriously. Reducing carbon emissions is a public health opportunity that we can't afford to ignore.

Gail A. Varcelotti is president and Tony Ruppert is vice president of Pennsylvania Society for Respiratory Care.






Glacier National Park is melting away (letter)
by Jon Clark
UPDATED:   08/20/2014 12:41:00 PM EDT

Thanks for the article "Study blames humans for most of melting glaciers" (YDR Aug. 15). My wife and I took a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana a couple of years ago to see the last of the glaciers the park was named after before they're gone. Years ago, the glaciers of Glacier National Park were expected to last until 2050. Now that time frame has moved up to 2020. There were 150 glaciers in the vicinity in 1850 and most were still there in 1910 when the park was created. In 2010, there were 25 glaciers left. These are glaciers that have been around for thousands of years that are dwindling away to nothing in our lifetimes. It's truly sad that our children will not able to see a glacier in Glacier National Park. Glaciers act as a "bank" of water (stored as ice) that helps to keep streams and rivers flowing year round. Many nations such as Peru and Bolivia depend on glaciers as their source for fresh water. Glaciers also serve as a record of past climate. Glaciers are made up of layers of ice which compress every year under the weight of new snowfall every season. Scientists can drill out core samples of glaciers and read them much like tree rings. Much information can be obtained about past climate such as CO2 levels from tiny bubbles of air trapped in the ice. We actually have records of CO2 levels from the past 800,000 years from ice core samples taken from Antarctica. According to the study, if strong action is taken right now to reduce greenhouse gases, glaciers may recede about another 40 percent by 2100. However, if little action is taken and greenhouse gases continue to rise sharply, 70 percent of global glacier mass could enter the rivers, seas and oceans of the world by 2100. The remaining 30 percent likely wouldn't be far behind.

Jon Clark, Conewago Township






How about a carbon ‘fee’? (letter)
UPDATED:   08/12/2014 12:45:18 PM
by Steve Izzo


Tax has become a bad word these days and for good reason. Our money is frequently misused by those entrusted with it. Carbon Tax is a tool that is designed to give renewable fuels the ability to get a foothold in the United States overall energy policy. There are now dozens of studies showing that renewables can compete, cheaper and cleaner, done by scientists at leading universities like Stanford. 

Popular opinion is that we need oil, coal and gas, that renewable energy sources simply aren’t good enough. But that opinion is generated in mass media by fossil fuel industry money. That industry has a vested interest in the citizens believing such a theory as they know the end is coming and are trying to extract every last dollar. They spend billions in our federal and state governments buying legislators and writing actual energy policy to their own interest. Most Americans clearly believe we should transition to solar, wind and other renewables, but the industry has us hostage. I believe we need a carbon fee on fossil fuels that is collected at the source and returned to citizens through our annual tax returns to offset the cost to average citizens. That is not a tax. This exact policy has made Germany the world leader in renewable energy production producing 31 percent of its energy this way in 2014, up from just 6 percent in 2000. It’s time for us to look past the “tax” bogeyman and step into the future of energy that is cleaner, cheaper and healthier. We don’t lack the technology, we lack the leadership and political will — both of which are being stolen and corrupted by big oil, coal and natural gas. Germany is doing it, we can too. 

— Steve Izzo, Brogue





Meat and dairy pollutes (letter)
York Dispatch
POSTED:   08/07/2014 07:50:34 AM EDT
and as
Say no to polluting meat (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   08/05/2014 02:21:11 PM EDT

by Steve Sandler

Last weekend, the drinking water of 400,000 Toledo residents was fouled by animal waste. With unfettered growth of animal agriculture and ineffective discharge regulations, it will happen again in our own state.

The problem has become pervasive. Waste from chicken farms has rendered ocean off the East Coast unfit for fishing. Waste from Midwest cattle ranches carried by Mississippi River has created a permanent “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico larger than that of the infamous 2010 BP oil spill.

Animal agriculture dumps more pollution to our waterways than all other human activities combined. Principal pollutants are animal manure, fertilizers, as well as soil particles, organic debris and pesticides from feed cropland. Manure and fertilizers promote growth of toxic algae that poison drinking water supplies. Organic matter feeds microorganisms that deplete oxygen and kill fish.

Effective regulations to limit dumping of animal waste into water supplies have been blocked by the meat industry.
Fortunately, every one of us has the power to stop this outrage three times a day by saying no to polluting meat and dairy products. Our local supermarket offers ample alternatives. Entering “live vegan” in a search engine provides useful recipes and transition tips.

— Steve Sandler, York






Bean counters running the farms (letter)
York Daily Record
by Ralph Sierra
UPDATED:   08/01/2014 02:47:02 PM EDT


Have you ever heard of the phrase “you are what you eat”? I’m sure we all have seen those gigantic warehouses in the country that we use to call barns. It only takes a few clicks of a mouse to peek into those buildings and see how the food we consumed is being manufactured. I say manufactured because they have to keep the animals locked up in assembly line cages so they can shoot them up full of chemicals. The reason for that is because they are being fed an un-natural diet which cause diseases.

It seems rare to see animals grazing on the natural grasses that they have eaten for millions of years. Sure, you will see cows grazing, but more and more they are locked up and fed stuff that most of us would never eat if it was written on a label. Chickens and pigs are locked up and spend their entire lives in small cages. Does any of that sound normal to anyone? They too have to be shot up with drugs. It seems like we are treating these animals like a column in a spreadsheet. The more widgets in a column the better, right? Wrong! We don’t eat widgets. Once again, it appears like some corporate bean counter in New York City is running the farm.

We don’t eat widgets, and we don’t need chemicals wrapped in a skin of a cow, chicken or found in an egg. We should support local farms that use natural foods as much as possible.

“Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good.” — Genesis, Chapter 1 24:25.

If God created what is good for us, and saw his creation as good, let us then to the best of our abilities treat these creatures as good gifts. We all must eat, and God gave us these animals to eat, so let’s be respectful as much as possible. In this way we thank God for the gifts he gives to us every day. 

— Ralph Sierra, East Manchester Township






LETTER: Pa. gardening in a southern Ga. climate
York Dispatch
by Porter Hedge
POSTED:   07/23/2014 04:11:05 PM EDT | UPDATED:   18 DAYS AGO


Thanks for the interesting read, "Brave new gardening for new climates," in the July 16 York Dispatch.

Anyone who grows from seeds probably took notice a couple of years ago when the USDA changed the hardiness zones map on the back of seed packets.

This reflects a warming world that climate scientists say will continue unless we drastically reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from burning fossil fuels.

As the world warms, southern climates are moving northward and will continue to do so.

The Pennsylvania Climate Assessment projects we will have Virginia's current climate in 2050 and southern Georgia's in 2100.

Let me repeat that for you: Scientists are projecting Pennsylvania to have southern Georgia's current climate by the end of this century, and the USDA redrawing of the hardiness zone maps shows this transformation is underway.

The article also mentions the heavy downpours the East is experiencing more often. According to the National Climate Assessment (globalchange.gov), "The Northeast has experienced a greater increase in extreme precipitation than any other region in the U.S.; between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70 percent increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events" (defined as the heaviest 1 percent of all daily events).

In recent years, flooding events in York County seem to happen more frequently and with greater intensity.

The National Climate Assessment also adds, "Agriculture, fisheries and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised over the next century by climate change impacts. Farmers can explore new crop options, but these adaptations are not cost- or risk-free."

Without a doubt we are living in a changing world and until we start to phase out fossil fuels that are causing the problem and replace them with clean, carbon-free forms of energy, our society, which has evolved under a relatively stable climate, will face many challenges in a rapidly changing world.

PORTER HEDGE
Spring Garden Twp.






LETTER: Farm Bureau distorts clean water plan
York Dispatch
POSTED:   07/16/2014 07:33:58 AM EDT
by Diana Schoder


CLEAN WATER PLAN

Farm Bureau distortions

The EPA's proposed rule to protect our local waterways has been subjected to various myths and misconceptions. The recent piece by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, "EPA proposal hurts Pa. farmers", is no exception.

Clean water is critical — not just for healthier farms and food, but also for the protection of our communities and public health. Right now, 8 million Pennsylvanians get their water from unprotected sources. And, half of Pennsylvania's rivers and streams are considered too polluted for activities such as swimming and fishing.

This is unacceptable.

The EPA's proposal would protect local waterways, like the Wissahickon, and they would ensure that the public can rely on these places for drinking water and recreation.

To clarify, despite the Farm Bureau's rhetoric, the rule does not expand federal regulation of water, nor does it regulate ditches. All of us depend on water. We cannot allow misinformation to determine how clean such an essential resource is. Support the EPA's rule to keep our water safe — for our health and for the well-being of future generations.

DIANA SCHODER
PennEnvironment






Proof a carbon tax would work (letter)
York Daily Record
by Anne Searer
UPDATED: 07/02/2014 11:28:00 AM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_26072502/proof-carbon-tax-would-work-letter


Last week, nearly 700 members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby met with 499 members of Congress or staff members in Washington (including Sens. Casey and Toomey, and Reps. Perry, Barletta, Shuster and Dent) to share with them the very positive results of a new economic study designed to evaluate the effects of the carbon fee/dividend program. Proof now exists, regardless of the climate beliefs of the challenger, that a carbon tax makes excellent economic sense for the country.

The study, by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), provides conclusive proof that a carbon tax would

• Grow the economy not the government.

• Create two million new jobs over the next 10 years, not cost jobs (compared to doing nothing).

• Save thousands of lives not waste them prematurely.

• Allow the free markets to choose winners not losers.

• Be revenue neutral by returning 100 percent of fees collected to families.

• Produce only a positive impact on middle and low income families, and begin to save the environment.


It is time to put aside the partisan divide and pay attention. REMI has worked for federal and state governments, major universities and international agencies and can easily be located by searching REMI for those interested in the credibility of the study.


The 128-page analysis uses the same nine geographic regions used by the federal government for analysis of census data. To review the complete study, search Carbon Tax Study REMI. This tax is not paid by residents — it benefits residents.


— Anne Searer, Derry Township






LETTER: Need jobs that improve society, not pollute it
York Dispatch
by Mike Omlor
POSTED: 06/23/2014 07:05:12 AM EDT
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/opinion/ci_26015956/letter-need-jobs-that-improve-society-not-pollute


Thanks for your June 4 editorial "EPA rules overdue" and thanks to President Obama for taking a leadership role on the climate change issue by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases causing our planet to warm.

The rules do not go far enough, but they are a step in the right direction.

Republican detractors in Congress who dislike the rules can introduce a free-market approach to dealing with the problem, a steadily rising, revenue-neutral carbon tax that returns 100 percent of the revenue back to every household equally.

Some deride EPA regulations as "job-killing."

I would say "How about creating jobs that aren't planet-killing?"

We need sustainable, clean-energy jobs that improve society, not pollute it.

A revenue-neutral carbon tax would boost the economy by putting money back in the hands of those who spend it, the consumers, with an added benefit of lowering emissions and cleaning up our air.

A border tax adjustment on imports coming from countries without similar carbon pricing would protect American businesses and encourage these countries to put a price on carbon as well.

Siding with polluters and attacking the rules coming from the agency whose mission is to "protect human health and the environment" is not a winning strategy for members of Congress, our children, or our climate.

They should focus on alternative, free-market solutions to the problem instead.

MIKE OMLOR

Washington Twp.






Wind and solar a dynamic duo (letter)
York Daily Record
By Roger Twitchell
UPDATED: 06/19/2014 04:38:10 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25994829/wind-and-solar-dynamic-duo-letter


There is concern over the EPA's recent ruling regarding regulation of power plant CO2 output, which is expected to shut down older coal-fired power plants.

Increasingly affordable natural gas works better and allows more flexibility than coal. Coal's having twice the carbon for a given energy output versus natural gas means there is no real “clean coal.” Leakage from natural gas infrastructure, however, makes natural gas no better overall.

To prevent our global economy from being overburdened by worsening weather disasters, we need to reduce our still-increasing contribution to the earth's increasing greenhouse effect. We simply need less fossil fuel combustion, since CO2 is a basic byproduct of that.

Some are concerned the EPA is forcing technology to be ready before its time, that there is no realistic alternative to coal. There is concern that greatly expanding wind power requires huge amounts of already-expensive copper to get that power to where it's needed.

Solar panels have been considered cost-inefficient, but now they're around $1/watt (sometimes less), giving them reasonable payback intervals and real-world positive return on investment even without subsidies. They're usually mounted precisely where the power is needed — no long copper cable runs are needed. Growing experience shows them to helpfully reduce mid-day grid stress “like clockwork.” The semiconductor industry's increasingly portable computers gained market share exponentially vastly faster than expected. Semiconductors known as solar panels are on track to do precisely the same thing.

Wind plus solar distributed over large areas is proving to be more reliable and price-stable a power source than centralized power with its fuels' price swings and aging machinery. With American-made solar panels at $1/watt plus affordable wind power the “forcing technology” argument against the EPA's ruling appears incorrect.

— Roger Twitchell, York






We are celebrating new EPA carbon rules (column)
York Daily Record
By Mitchell Hescox
UPDATED: 06/06/2014 01:20:40 PM EDT


In my family we hug a lot. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but what can I say, we're huggers. My wife Clare and I especially love it when our grandkids give us hugs.

My 7-year-old grandson runs into my arms to give me the biggest hug he can muster, and when I say, "I love you" he replies, "I love you more!" My 3-year-old just jumps in my arms, plants a big wet kiss, and says, "Love you, Pop-pop!" The youngest, just 4 weeks old, simply looks at me when I hold and hug him.

My grandkids and their future immediately came home to me on Monday morning as I received a hug from a friend. It just happened to be at the Environmental Protection Agency, and the friend giving me the hug was the head of the EPA, Administrator Gina McCarthy. She did so immediately after she signed the proposed standards for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

I've made no secret of the fact that Administrator McCarthy and I have a good working relationship. Our ministry at the Evangelical Environmental Network has supported Administrator McCarthy and the EPA on a number of occasions. We worked hard to put the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards into effect because mercury harms the brains of our unborn and newly born children. We stood alongside EPA and others to support new fuel standards that would make cars more efficient and therefore reduce harmful air population linked in numerous medical studies to birth defects. And now, we are standing with the EPA for a proposed standard for reducing carbon pollution from the single largest source, electric power plants. Administrator McCarthy and I make an odd couple. I'm an evangelical, pro-life Christian and have been a registered Republican my entire life. McCarthy grew up with an Irish Catholic background and is a member of President Obama's Cabinet — much more progressive. She's also a Red Sox fan, while I support the Orioles.

However, what we have in common is so much greater than our differences.

We love our kids and grandkids. Climate change is a serious threat to those we love and a tremendous opportunity for creating a better life for them via a clean energy economy. Following the leadership of our Risen Lord Jesus, we can work to provide an abundant life in tune with God's plan for humanity as caretakers for His world.

As a fiscal conservative, I would prefer a market-based approach to reducing carbon. It is simply egregious that we put the costs of carbon pollution in our children lungs and brains while the profits are privatized. Simply put, the market has never realized the true cost of fossil fuels.

As an example, we might like our neighbors and be thankful for ways that they helped us, but none of us would be happy with the same neighbors tossing their trash into our yards and expecting us to clean it up. That's exactly what has been happening with our fossil fuel use, and it's time to act before it's too late.

Common sense and our experiences tells us it is better to act sooner to address a looming threat than to ignore it and wait until it's harder and more expensive. That's what economists tell us about climate change: act now or the human and economic costs will escalate. With each year of delay, the costs multiply for addressing increased disease, sea-level rise, extreme weather, food scarcity and resource conflicts.

It would be great to have a national discussion on the best policy approaches to address climate change, and as I've said, I think a market-based approach is best. But it's hard to have a discussion when one team refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem. Now there are many reasons that Republicans don't want to discuss climate science, but I believe it's time that we start to engage, and I think most conservative policy makers agree, at least privately. A few months ago, during a private meeting, a leading Republican in U.S. House of Representatives said, "We all know we have to price carbon."

As a Republican, I am proud of my party's conservation legacy. Ronald Reagan signed the Montreal Protocol to save our ozone layer (and bought us some time in addressing climate). President George H.W. Bush revised the Clean Air Act and reduced acid rain. These basic protections did not significantly impact the economy. In fact, they produced a lot of co-benefits and spurred new industries.

My prayer is that people I respect, like Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell, might lead a new discussion on addressing our environmental challenges. Perhaps we could share a pat on the back as well. For me, hugs celebrate not only the importance of love and life but a job well done.

We're not there yet. Addressing global warming will take all of us working together. So for the moment at least, I will keep hugging and praying for my grandkids, follow our risen Lord, and help provide hope for a new future. Our kids, grandkids and all God's children deserve the best from all of us.

The Rev. Mitchell Hescox is President of The Evangelical Environmental Network. He lives in New Freedom.


Cartoon by Tom Toles






Snowed in on a warming planet (letter)
York Daily Record
by Marlin Turby
UPDATED: 06/05/2014 12:08:34 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25901329/snowed-warming-planet-letter


Climate change is often cited as a hoax, and any governmental action to curb it is called socialism. If only it were that simple. It is a snow job to make such false claims. Meanwhile the planet warms and the climate shifts. Extreme weather is becoming the norm, just as the physics have predicted for decades. The arguments stating that global warming is not a threat are clearly addressed at www.skepticalscience.com.

We need to reduce carbon emissions, and the recent EPA proposal on power plants is an excellent step in that direction. Encourage Sen. Casey to stand firmly on his word in addressing climate by supporting this legislation. You may reach him at 202-224-6324.

If you would like to learn more about weather and climate visit www.climatecentral.org.

— Marlin Turby, Dillsburg






LETTER: Contrived gas shortages
York Dispatch
by George Herman
POSTED: 06/02/2014 07:18:49 AM EDT
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/opinion/ci_25879974/letter-contrived-gas-shortages


The unfair price of gasoline is controlled by Wall Street and the oil companies. Our illustrious leaders in Washington sit on their hands and twiddle their thumbs while passing out concessions and tax breaks to the oil companies.

How do they do that?

The supply has outpaced the demand and no significant decrease in the price of gasoline has occurred. Contrived shortages are one method of trying to justify price increases.

The Keystone XL pipeline is for the benefit of the oil companies to ease the export of oil and petroleum products. It is not to benefit the people of the United States. The shale gas pipeline proposed for Pennsylvania will be used for export of the gas, not to help the people of Pennsylvania.

These companies have the unknowing dupes doing their bidding, crying for more pipelines and believing in the myth of energy independence. The more oil and gas production, the more they will export.

The Alaskan pipeline was to give us energy independence in the 1970s, and here we are. They shipped that oil to Japan. Our energy sources should be used to help the people of this country.

GEORGE HERMAN
Conewago Twp.






What barriers to energy production? (letter)
York Daily Record
By Porter Hedge
UPDATED: 05/30/2014 02:17:36 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25865861/what-barriers-energy-production-letter


This letter is in response to Bob Grasso's letter, "Knock down barriers to energy production."

I would like to ask Mr. Grasso what barriers are stopping the fossil fuels industry from producing energy in this country.

I mean, look around. Our state's once magnificent Penn's Woods has become a major industrial site for natural gas drilling. In Appalachia, coal mining companies are blowing the tops off of mountains and burying neighboring valleys with the rubble to get at coal. You can see rural areas of North Dakota from space at night from all the flaring of gas coming from the Bakken shale oil being extracted.

Maybe he missed the blowout from the Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf back in 2010, a spill from just one well of thousands in the Gulf. Spills in 2013 were up 17 percent. "While most of the spills were small, they amounted to more than 26 million gallons of oil, fracking wastewater and more. That's equivalent to the amount of oil BP gushed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010" (Eco Watch).

Maybe he doesn't know about the 185,000 miles of pipeline that already crisscross the U.S. What barriers? This certainly doesn't look like an "oppressive energy policy" to me. Maybe he is talking about new EPA regulations that would require coal-fired power plants to clean up their act and reduce carbon pollution that has already warmed the planet one and a half degrees in 134 years.

Mr. Grasso seems to think we have all the time in the world to make the transition to carbon-free forms of energy and has reasonable-sounding ideas like promoting an all-of-the-above energy policy.

That would have been more helpful back in the 1980s when a global consensus of climate scientists started to really sound the alarm on greenhouse gases and global warming. Since then we've been arguing about basic climate science that has been settled for years while digging up and burning fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow.

But today is tomorrow. We are seeing firsthand these consequences in heavy downpours and flooding like we've never seen, in a disappearing Arctic, in wildfires that are bigger and more destructive than ever, and in more severe droughts and heat waves.

You can see literally on a daily basis the extreme weather and natural disasters that an atmosphere with more energy trapped from the sun generates. Mr. Grasso argues for more business as usual — something 97 percent of climate scientists say we can no longer continue without making our current situation far, far worse.

Mr. Grasso argues that we should drive down the price of fossil fuels to help the middle-class while simultaneously looking for ways to reduce emissions.

Huh?

That's what the U.S. has been doing for decades with oil and gas subsidies and tax breaks. Companies often pay next to nothing for the raw material, and leave the waste on the ground, in the water and in the air. It has not worked. The cheaper fossil fuels become, the more people use them, resulting in higher emissions.

How does Mr. Grasso propose we reduce emissions? Where is the incentive? He already blasted the "stranglehold of regulations placed on businesses," so I guess that option is out with him. He argues against an alternative, free-market approach to reducing emissions, a steadily-rising, revenue-neutral carbon tax. He argues against this option, saying it won't reduce carbon emissions at all. Of course it will. It is meant to change consumer's behavior. By making something more expensive you turn people away from it. It worked for cigarettes and it will work for fossil fuels.

If Mr. Grasso truly wants to revive the middle-class, he should support a revenue-neutral carbon tax that will spur the transition to a brand new clean energy economy, a transition that will require millions of skilled workers.

Porter Hedge is a volunteer for Citizens' Climate Lobby. He lives in Spring Garden Township.



Climate change efforts will help Africa (column)
By Keith Peterman
UPDATED: 05/30/2014 02:16:36 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25865862/climate-change-efforts-will-help-africa-column


Arthur St. Onge penned a recent YDR article (May 22) titled "Climate change efforts hurt Africa."Mr. St. Onge heavily references a Wall Street Journal opinion titled "Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change." Mr. St. Onge considers climate change to be an "unproven science" and challenges my own "beliefs" and "ardent defense of climate change ideology."

First, let me state that, like all of you, I have my own beliefs, opinions and world view framed largely by family, friends, education, economic status, religious instruction, research and more. You can challenge my beliefs and opinions, but you cannot falsify them because they are what I "believe." On the other hand, a scientific hypothesis or theory must be "falsifiable," or it is not science. Scientific studies and models continue to reinforce the robust theory that our climate is changing and humans are culpable.

Now, let's turn to the issue of how climate change is hurting Africa.

IPCC Working Group II — charged with assessing impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability linked to climate change — states, "In Africa, most national governments are initiating governance systems for adaptation (to climate change)." These governments seek to reduce their vulnerability to climate change through "disaster risk management, adjustments in technologies and infrastructure, ecosystem-based approaches, basic public health measures and livelihood diversification." In other words, many African governments already clearly recognize their extreme risk due to climate change.

The author of the Journal opinion contends that Africans prefer to dig their way out of poverty and access electricity by leveraging fossil fuels. The Journal features the picture of a young boy standing by a wind farm in Ethiopia. So, let us specifically look at Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is often referred to as the "water tower" of northeastern Africa. Lake Tana, high in the northwestern plateau, receives large amounts of rainfall every year. That water spills down to lower elevations as the Blue Nile. Hydroelectric stations tap the tremendous energy of the Blue Nile as well as that of other raging rivers, converting it into electricity. Ethiopia is a net exporter of electricity. Many surrounding nations are importers of this renewable form of energy. What St. Onge and the Journal are promoting is fossil fuel driven electricity as a pathway out of poverty, but they fail to recognize the dire consequences of adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

I traveled to Ethiopia for research in 2011 to assess climate change issues. Ethiopia's natural climate is classified as tropical monsoon, but its topography can cause wide variations — water can be plentiful or sparse. Fluctuations in this precipitation are exacerbated by changing climatic conditions.

During the time I was visiting Ethiopia, its highlands were experiencing excessive rain. By contrast, a much different story was developing on the pastoral lowlands. Two successive failed rainy seasons had led to the driest year since 1951 in some pastoralist regions, resulting in droughts and crop failures. The droughts were not restricted to Ethiopia but were occurring throughout the Horn of Africa in Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda as well. Crop failures and lack of water led to a massive humanitarian crisis.

For wealthy nations, extreme weather events may cause hardship, but our healthier economies have a high ability to adapt. Developing countries like Ethiopia, on the other hand, have a greatly diminished capacity for adaptation. Dr. Mohammed Oumer, associate professor of earth sciences at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia's premier university), put it in stark terms. "The problem is one of climate vulnerability. Here it is very high. This means that a small change in weather conditions can create huge problems. A lack of rainfall means that the grass dries up, and the livestock becomes weak after the first month. The second month they die. Famine follows. If, however, there is one rainfall, the grass will recover in two days and the cattle can survive. Our livestock is directly related to the climate."

I traveled to the remote Kaffa region to interview Dr. Taye Kufa, Director of the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Center. Taye leads research projects seeking to develop disease- and drought-resistant coffee varieties for each unique growing section of the Kaffa region. Taye explained that the entire 2010-11 crop, there and throughout most of the Kaffa region, was lost due to excess rain.

According to the World Health Organization, 68 percent of Ethiopians live in areas at risk for malaria. The IPCC predicts that this situation will worsen as malaria enters highland areas of Ethiopia due to changing climatic conditions.

Dr. Roberto Bertollini, director of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Health and Environment Program, states, "Climate change creates the conditions that make it easier for this mosquito to survive, and it opens the door to diseases that didn't exist here previously. This is a real issue. It is not something a crazy environmentalist is warning about."

Under current practices and growth forecasts, Ethiopia would double its greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2030, through land use, deforestation and cattle rearing. However, at the 2011 UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, then-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi unveiled Ethiopia's Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy, which aimed at creating jobs and reducing poverty through the development and greening of seven economic sectors. Fossil fuels are not the future path to economic development.

The IPCC states, "Climate-change impacts are expected to exacerbate poverty in most developing countries (with Africa particularly vulnerable to) high food insecurity and high inequality." Clearly, no place is at greater risk to the dire consequences of climate change than Africa.

Keith Peterman is a chemistry professor at York College. This piece originally appeared on his blog at yorkblog.com/hot.






Pipelines benefit oil companies, not you (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/29/2014 04:52:26 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25858684/pipelines-benefit-oil-companies-not-you-letter


The Keystone XL pipeline is for the benefit of the oil companies to ease the export of oil and petroleum products. The oil companies have duped some people into believing that the pipeline will lower the price of gasoline. Not so. Washington does nothing but pass out concessions and tax breaks to the oil companies. Prices do not come down when supply outpaces demand and Wall Street keeps juggling the price of gasoline to reap exorbitant profits. The proposed Pennsylvania pipeline for shale gas will be to facilitate the export of that gas, not for the benefit of the people of Pennsylvania.


The oil and gas companies fool some people with the myth of energy independence if they support more pipelines. The more oil and gas produced, the more they will export. The Alaskan pipeline was to give us energy independence in the 1970s, and here we are. They shipped that oil to Japan. Our energy sources should be used to benefit the people of this country.


— George Herman, Conewago Township







Learning from the Great Depression Generation (letter)
York Dispatch
Week of 5/19/14
Published in print only


We all see the ongoing mud battle between those labeled "climate change deniers" and so-called "liberal alarmists". Ugly enough to make you run screaming.

The former sees nothing wrong with combustion-sourced electricity and transport, while the latter prefers electricity to be from wind turbines and solar panels and they prefer their cars to have battery packs, all of which the former sees as utterly absurd.

The latter group has also done a lot of serious reading about what scientists expect under a sustained "Business As Usual" scenario with continued reliance on combustion for everything and found the projected future there ugly enough to make horror movies seem warm and cuddly by comparison. That latter group, whenever they talk with scientists of whatever kind, find those scientists deeply disgusted that we're still discussing whether or not climate change exists instead of making real progress in attempting to address it.

This is America, the "melting pot" nation of immigrants seeking a better world, that invented the P-51 Mustang very long range fighter plane to get WWII over with to resume the peace we so preferred over war. Judging by the ongoing debate over climate change, I'm not sure this nation is up to addressing challenges of the future - maybe we'd just rather bicker.

Let's look at what the P-51 Mustang represents. We might see it now as a 437 mph thrill ride, the plane that allowed us to resume bombing runs over the Third Reich, the epitome of piston-based aircraft. But the engineers of 1943 saw it as a plane finally efficient enough to have enough range (no in-flight refueling back then) to not only do full bomber escort duty, but to also more than compete with the Luftwaffe's finest.

He who got the most done with the fuel he took off with won, and that ended up meaning P-51 pilots. Whatever fuel weight you didn't need could instead be extra ammunition and/or performance. So, yes, we won WWII partly because of one vehicle design's unusually high fuel efficiency.

The generation that grew up in the Depression deeply understood the value of working together towards a common goal, using conservation, resourcefulness and efficiency, and won WWII.

I strongly hope we can attempt to follow their example as we head into a future with serious resource and environmental limitations.

Roger Twitchell, York City






Drilling’s impact on the environment (letter)
LancasterOnline.com
Posted: Monday, May 12, 2014 3:45 am
http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/drilling-s-impact-on-the-environment/article_cadc23de-d7b2-11e3-88b2-001a4bcf6878.html


The frequently echoed mantra, “Drill Baby Drill,” continues to ooze from the ignoble minds of many of our elected officials.

It is easier for them to bury their heads in the (tar) sand than to acknowledge the truth: We are destroying our environment one well at a time.

Our local experience poses an interesting microcosm of what is happening on a bigger scale nationwide. Lancaster County, surprisingly, has among the worst air quality of any county in the state, and now we are supposed to fall lock-step in line as Williams Partners provides details of how they need to divert natural gas from the Marcellus Shale through the heart of a pristine landscape.

If we heed the propaganda hurled at us by energy companies, we would have to believe that natural gas is safer to harvest than corn.

However, from 2010 through 2012, 4,602 wells were drilled in Pennsylvania that resulted in 320 well failures, or an average failure rate of 6.9 percent. With anticipated shale exploration growth patterns, that translates to “well” over 10,000 structural integrity breaches.

Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas that is 84 times more toxic than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years it is released, with devastating impacts on the air we breathe, the water we drink and on extreme weather.

When I met recently with Rep. Joe Pitts, I was told that “people don’t care about climate change.” He also said, “There is science on both sides of the issue.”

Technically speaking, he is correct since just one out of 9,136 peer reviewed authors reject global warming.

Let’s not rely on leaders who want to move forward with blinders on, risking our health and habitat so they can avoid making long overdo obvious choices.

Disprove Pitts’ assumption that people don’t care. Text, email, call, — do whatever it takes to let him and his colleagues in Washington and Harrisburg know that what they do (or don’t do) matters.

Jeff Sussman

Manheim Township






Unsustainable fracking (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/12/2014 08:47:56 AM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25743904/unsustainable-fracking-letter


Fracking is an unsustainable practice through its negative impacts on the environment, communities and the economy.


Gas is extracted from the ground, after large quantities of wastewater is left over from the process, damaging the environment directly. Wastewater is held in a man-made pool at the fracking sites, which aren’t closely monitored. The chemical wastewater is left to evaporate and to run off into local waterways and wells. This leads to contaminated water infecting humans and wildlife via consumption.


Pennsylvania is the only state that doesn’t tax gas companies, a law provided by Tom Corbett. Gas companies paid millions to Corbett’s campaign; now he is taking care of them. If a tax would be in place, Pennsylvania would economically benefit greatly.


Many claim communities will economically prosper by creating jobs and increase business for hospitality establishments. Sites aren’t permanent; lasting under a few years. Towns benefiting for a few years won’t be of much impact, and after the company leaves, the town returns to its original struggles. Jobs, especially high-wage positions, aren’t created for locals. Most companies bring in their own employees from out of state, the majority: Texas.


Fracking isn’t socially sustainable. Companies target land owned by economically strained families, offering a few grand to use their property. To these households, this money is precious, a matter of financially surviving another year to some. Given the option that allows them to provide for their children, most will accept without hesitation. One cannot blame these families. The companies strategically target poverty-stricken areas for this reason.


Hydraulic fracturing is an issue impacting the environment, economy and social aspects of society. Knowing about the sustainability issue, fracking can create awareness of local and global issues, hopefully inspiring to act in a way that positively impacts the earth.


— Rita Flick, East Petersburg






LETTER: Strategies to deal with climate change
York Dispatch
UPDATED: 05/09/2014 09:44:02 AM EDT
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/opinion/ci_25729499/letter-strategies-deal-climate-change


Climate Change

Strategies to use now

Climate change is one of the most controversial issues plaguing policy makers around the world.

Greenhouse gas emissions have reached excessive levels, and this upward trend will continue unless mitigation policies are enacted. Change needs to begin now to stifle grave health implications.

Exposure to excessive heat causes heat stroke. This medical emergency emerges when the body's core temperature rises past the threshold of biological management. Processes in the body to regulate temperature go into overdrive. The exaggerated response can lead to heart attack, stroke, respiratory failure, and even death.

Patterns of infectious disease will change as the Earth warms. Vectors of infectious diseases could migrate to areas where treatment is not adequate. The potential for eradicated or new pathogens to arise could pose a serious threat to immunity, resource availability and cost of healthcare.

Education and awareness are low-cost strategies to spark change. Society is highly capable of modifying behavior to reduce — or even eliminate — global warming. Getting involved with climate change legislation or joining environmental activist groups can empower an individual, and with empowerment, change is possible.

If temperatures continue to rise, the need for society to adapt will become a necessity. Modification of home-cooling systems and equipping hospitals for surge capacity will be crucial to protect health.

Changes on a more individual level include utilizing public transportation, walking, or riding bicycle to travel.

Decreasing the volume of red meat consumption can also be beneficial. Livestock produce large amounts of methane from their digestive functioning. Lowering the demand for red meat will, in turn, lower the number of livestock and decrease methane emission.

Little changes made today can have substantial power over the future of our environment.

KIMBERLY MARTIN

York College nursing student

Penn Twp.






The art of sustainability (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/08/2014 03:45:14 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25722730/art-sustainability-letter


For people with interests in both fine art and sustainability, issues of ecological sustainability often feel like predominantly science-related problems, something best left to those who study fields more directly connected to the environment. However, in order to achieve ecological sustainability, issues must be met in cultural, social and economic contexts. This means sustainability is applicable across disciplines, including the arts. While it is necessary to approach issues from a scientific or economic standpoint, the relevance of social and cultural issues to sustainability can easily become overlooked.


In a time where political distrust, frustration and disengagement are common, it is imperative for communities starting sustainable practices to rebuild community cohesion and to design creative solutions to combat negative attitudes. This is one place where artists can get involved; the arts are capable of lling an in uential role in sustainability efforts by presenting information in new and interesting ways, expanding communication and inspiring broad community participation.


As is with the very nature of art, there are no set guidelines of how sustainable art may be achieved or how it will appear. Examples of sustainability-related art include large-scale words made from trash picked up from the roadways, displayed publically as a reminder to avoid littering; paintings that track the decreasing size of the earth’s glaciers to raise awareness; or landscape art made in toxic areas to pull the unwanted chemicals from the soil while at the same time decorating the area.


Art has the ability to play an impactful role in the creation and support of ecologically sustainable practices, and so do other non-science fields. The need for environmental action is an issue that spreads across disciplines, and it is possible and important for everyone to join in where they can.


— Dillon Samuelson, York College student






Residential solar panels (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/08/2014 03:42:17 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25722726/residential-solar-panels-letter


As we begin to think about spring, we think of temperatures rising and nice spring flowers. The sun is to thank for having those nice spring days and those beautiful flowers that are beginning to sprout. The sun is not only for providing us with those two beautiful things ,but it can be also used to fuel our homes by using solar energy.


The rays can be converted into solar energy by the use of solar panels. These panels convert the rays into electricity that can be stored in solar cells for future usage. These cells are then used to power our homes and do things like heat our houses and run our refrigerators. By using these solar-powered homes, we are reducing our carbon footprint and providing cleaner safer energy to our homes.


One of the most interesting portions of this trend is that companies such as Solar City are becoming major players in the solar energy marketplace. Solar City is a company that will install solar panels on your home for free. The catch is that when you install the panels, you must commit to receiving energy that cannot be provided by your panels from Solar City. The great thing about Solar City is that they only use solar energy, so all of your power is coming from a clean, more natural source.


With the U.S. government offering grants to install solar panels on your house, and having the ability to sell the energy back to the energy company if your panels make too much, solar is a no brainer. Solar panels are the way to go for modern more advanced forms of energy.


— Tyler Long, York






Solar is a viable solution (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/07/2014 02:42:14 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25714614/solar-is-viable-solution-letter


There are many critics of solar energy. Some claim that it is inefficient, expensive and a hassle to install. However, the global use of solar technology increased by about 35 percent from 2012-2013. In addition, the expanding solar industry has provided many job opportunities for all different kinds of people: engineers, installers, marketers and much more. The employment rate of the solar industry in the United States alone rose about 20 percent from 2012-2013, which is 10 times the amount of the overall U.S. employment rate growth (1.9 percent), and this field is only growing.

Globally, many places utilize solar power and solar power plants for things other than energy. For example, there are solar power plants in the Middle East that can help desalinate water. Desalinating is an energy-intensive process, and by supplementing part of the process with solar power, it is cutting down on the greenhouse gas emitted by the process.

In addition, there have been many advances in solar technology within the last couple of years alone. There has been a new discovery in nanocrystal technology that could lead to solar panel windows, meaning windows could also absorb sunlight and generate energy. If buildings — both business buildings and residential homes — installed these kinds of windows, then they could cut down on energy costs, greatly reduce their carbon footprint and potentially even have excess energy to sell back to the grid.

Economically, environmentally and socially, the solar industry is advantageous. As a country, we need to realize that we must phase out nonrenewable fossil fuels. Solar energy becomes a more realistic path we can go down.


— Kaitlyn Teppert, York






Fight deforestation (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/07/2014 02:40:52 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25714611/fight-deforestation-letter


As we are inundated with scientific evidence, there is no argument against the fact that climate change is currently happening. Earth’s temperature has risen significantly over the past century, and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has escalated to nearly 400 parts per million. A major factor causing these changes is the widespread occurrence of deforestation and forest degradation. When forests are cut down, carbon absorption is halted, and carbon being stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, leading directly to climate change. Indeed, nearly 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere each year due to deforestation, particularly through the cutting and burning of forests.


Deforestation by humans is incredibly damaging to the atmosphere, and if it continues we should expect the planet’s climate to change drastically over the next few decades. To alleviate this growing problem, an effective system of forest governance should be implemented. This would globally strengthen land use laws and practices that impact forests in order to decrease forest degradation — and would integrate communities to increase awareness, participation, and accountability.


To achieve an efficient system of forest governance, compliance with forest laws must be improved, thus education should be provided to communities to strengthen awareness as law enforcement becomes more stringent. Secondly, an action plan should be devised that will address various social, political and economical drivers of deforestation on both local and international levels. Finally, legislation must be reformed to encourage sustainable forest management and resolve conflicting laws. Specifically, tax incentives and subsidies that encourage unnecessary forest land conversion must be eliminated.


To successfully mitigate climate change, action must be taken immediately to execute a proficient system of forest governance, and responsibly manage forest resources. Deforestation must be diminished to prevent catastrophic climate change.


— Chelsea Young, York College student






The fracking paradox (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/07/2014 02:42:58 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25714615/fracking-paradox-letter


The fracking debate has made its way to our neighbor across the river: Lancaster County. Williams Partners has proposed the construction of a pipeline that would transport natural gas to various locations on the East Coast. Deemed Central Penn South, the line would snake its way along the western edge of Lancaster County and beside the Susquehanna River.

Raise the red flag. The Susquehanna River is no Hudson, but it still shimmers when the sun decides to appear, speckled with kayakers and reflecting shadows of roaming birds. Now some billion-dollar corporation wants to tear open the land and throw in metal pipes to carry hundreds of tons of oil, right next to the river. Bright, bright, red flag. What if that shimmer is replaced with murky gray globs if the pipes leak? Where will the kayakers and the birds go?

Residents of Lancaster County fear these risks as they protest the pipeline’s construction. Their beliefs are certainly justified by the known environmental damage caused by pipelines. The integrity of the land itself is severely compromised without the guarantee of restoration. Species of organisms inhabiting the area could suffer displacement, fatality and possibly endangerment or extinction. Ecosystems are in danger of being destroyed. It is for these reasons that larger projects, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, have been delayed by President Obama several times. Key members of the Sierra Club, including its executive director, Michael Brune, were arrested while protesting the Keystone XL. The idea of sacrificing the earth’s natural state is a very scary one, particularly when it is the earth directly beneath our homes and our children’s feet.

However, why is it less scary to sacrifice the earth that is under the homes of Canadians or Saudi Arabians? As America’s top oil suppliers, they are drilling line after line into their soils in order to export thousands of barrels of oil each day. And here is our paradox. We will scream and kick and scribble names on every petition to stop those lines from being injected into our precious territory. Maybe our shouts will be heard by the county commissioners and we can lay down our signs, sit back on the recliner and relax with a bag of Martins. And watch the lines be built, instead, next to homes of the Canadians and Saudi Arabians.

If Transco does not build the pipeline in Lancaster, it will take its building elsewhere. It will take it to a country where environmental laws are not nearly as progressive as American policies, maybe where an EPA does not even exist. We must consider that while our environment is greatly harmed by implanting a pipeline, foreign lands might experience a more brutal impact.

Now, I am certainly not criticizing environmental protection efforts. In fact, I donate to the Sierra Club whenever the organization’s letter is emotionally persuasive enough to pull my checkbook from my purse. I am even a firm believer that humans and animals, life and land should be valued with the exact same intensity. Though, let’s also consider the value of environment on a global perspective. Let’s equalize that value and extend it not only to the soil around our homes, but to that of our neighbors to the north, across the seas, and every mile in between.


— Kaila Young, North Codorus Township.






Article off base on bicycle rules (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/07/2014 02:37:54 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25714605/article-off-base-bicycle-rules-letter


I just opened my paper to find your article about bicycle commuting. I am dismayed and disappointed that it contains some factual errors and perceptions about bicycling. You may have found an active cyclist to interview, but that does not assure he knows anything about the Vehicle Code that specifies the Rules of the Road, e.g., your quote that “using lights when it’s dark to increase visibility are important proactive steps” — a front light and rear reflector are required, not just a safety measure.

However, the most glaring error you wrote without a clear source to attribute (person or research) is regarding a bicyclist’s position on the roadway. You have misstated the rules of the road, especially as the Vehicle Code was amended in 2012. As a journalist, you missed the distinction between “possible and practicable” when referring to keeping to the right, if you or those you interviewed even checked.

There were many changes to the Vehicle Code in Act 3 of 2012 that you should have been aware of before perpetuating misinformation. What you did, in my view, is not only inaccurate writing, you have given the public some justification for more road rage against bicyclists when “those darn bikes won’t get out of my way” thinking prevails.


— Joe Stafford, executive director, Bicycle Access Council, Dallastown






Concerns about biodiversity (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/06/2014 12:47:03 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25706963/concerns-about-biodiversity-letter


I am writing in regards to the increase of animals that are now being placed into the endangered species list. So many of us are unaware of this situation and are also unaware of the effects this would have on our biodiversity. Our society today is not ignorant to this crisis, but we are being kept out of the loop. I believe that there should be steps taken to help resolve this problem in order to help our society better learn and understand the situation at hand and what the costs and consequences are of our actions.


In order to better understand why there is an increase in the amount of animals we now consider to be endangered, we need to understand our part in it. We are the biggest problem when it comes to this issue, and we need to realize that we are the ones to blame. As soon as we understand that we are to blame, we can then see what steps we need to take in order to solve this problem. We need to stop poaching, provide better funding into research, and we need to preserve the habitat of our organisms. Most importantly, we have to let our society know what is going on. Understanding that a rich population of organisms will keep our biodiversity healthy and keep us healthy will help us in the future.


— Crystal Laygo, York






Climate change a health risk (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/05/2014 04:27:01 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/ci_25697501


Climate change is one of the most controversial issues plaguing policy makers around the world. Greenhouse gas emissions have reached excessive levels, and this upward trend will continue unless mitigation policies are enacted. Change needs to begin now to stifle grave health implications. Exposure to excessive heat causes heat stroke. This medical emergency emerges when the body’s core temperature rises past the threshold of biological management. Processes in the body to regulate temperature go into overdrive. The exaggerated response can lead to heart attack, stroke, respiratory failure and even death.


Patterns of infectious disease will change as the earth warms. Vectors of infectious diseases could migrate to areas where treatment is not adequate. The potential for eradicated or new pathogens to arise could pose a serious threat to immunity, resource availability and cost of healthcare. Education and awareness are low-cost strategies to spark change. Society is highly capable of modifying behavior to reduce — or even eliminate — global warming. Getting involved with climate change legislation or joining environmental activist groups can empower an individual, and with empowerment, change is possible. If temperatures continue to rise, the need for society to adapt will become a necessity. Modification of home cooling systems and equipping hospitals for surge capacity will be crucial to protect health.


Changes on a more individual level include utilizing public transportation, walking, or riding bicycle to travel. Decreasing the volume of red meat consumption can also be beneficial. Livestock produce large amounts of methane from their digestive functioning. Lowering the demand for red meat will, in turn, lower the number of livestock and decrease methane emission. Little changes made today can have substantial power over the future of our environment.


— Kimberly Martin, York College of Pennsylvania nursing student






Carbon tax favored (letter)
LancasterOnline.com
Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 9:32 am | Updated: 9:34 am, Fri May 2, 2014.
http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/carbon-tax-favored/article_466a4810-d1fe-11e3-98a3-0017a43b2370.html


All of the proposals from gubernatorial candidates about fracking taxes are shortsighted and penny-wise and pound foolish.

I’m all for funding education adequately, but if we don’t address the coming danger of climate change now, we won’t have an educational system in the future.


The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, written by hundreds of the world’s best scientists, say we will have “catastrophic” climate change unless we make 40 to 70 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions within 15 years. To accomplish that, we’ll need a tax on fossil fuels, but one that’s consumer-friendly and won’t hurt our economy.

If we had a carbon pollution tax as well as extraction taxes paid directly to consumers, not the government, it would be revenue-neutral, a wash for us, a tax swap, but fatal to fossil fuels. If the tax increased annually, the market, not government regulations, would make the switch to clean energy. See The Citizens Climate Lobby Website for details on this plan.

Solar or wind alone alone can easily power the world several times over (University of California), prices are dropping exponentially, solar and wind are becoming cost competitive, even though their subsidies have been eliminated. Intermittency/storage problems have been solved.

Lynn Goldfarb

Manheim Township






Global warming affects hunting and fishing (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 05/02/2014 08:34:01 AM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25681085/global-warming-affects-hunting-and-fishing-letter


Ever since modernization, we have done nothing but destroy the clean air that we take in every day. The moose and deer populations are really being affected by warmer weather — which has also brought disease-carrying insects farther north. Because of the warmer winters, ticks have been over-populating.


Ticks are not just affecting the moose and deer. They are also affecting humans. More than half of all the deer ticks tested carry the bacteria for Lyme disease. While ticks usually have stayed in the middle area of the United States, they are now moving north and are beginning to enter Canada.


Global warming in not only affecting hunting wildlife, it is also affecting the waters all around us. Water temperature is increasing. The coastal river herring population is a great example. They have been threatened the last couple of years by the warm waters. Since the water temperatures are higher, the spawning of the herring has dramatically declined. Between the years 1994 and 2000, around 10,000 to 40,000 herrings came back to spawn in the Taylor River. In 2006, the number dramatically went down to 147 herring.


We are going to have to come up with a long-term plan to stop the rise in temperature. Then and only then will the helpless animals that we are putting to extinction be able to recover. While all of the aquatic and land animals are affected by global warming, some are affected more than others. So help out the river herring, moose and deer by getting involved in community affairs to stop global warming. Then we and the future generations can enjoy the nice land that we grew up in.


— Kyle Freeman, York College student






LETTER: Make fossil fuel industry pay costs of climate change
York Dispatch
UPDATED: 05/02/2014 07:09:07 AM EDT
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/opinion/ci_25683092/letter-make-fossil-fuel-industry-pay-costs-climate


I agree with Jon Clark's April 30 op-ed, "York County no stranger to climate change." We can already see the costs of climate change. But there are more costs than just those mentioned in the op-ed. There are many other "externalities" of fossil fuels — costs for which we taxpayers bear the burden.

Coal, oil and gas profits are privatized while the costs for the damage they cause are socialized. Taxpayers have paid over $1 trillion for climate change disasters so far (NOAA website), and we'll be paying trillions more because there are three decades worth of excess CO2 emissions in the atmosphere (it doesn't dissipate). So, things are going to get much worse even if we could completely stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow.

Scientists have been trying to warn us about this for a long time, but they can seldom get through the noise of a multi-billion-dollar PR operation funded by fossil fuels (Scientific American, The Washington Post) modeled directly on big tobacco's denial smoking causes lung cancer, fake "scientists" and all, even using one of tobacco's old PR operations, Heartland.

Then there are the totally unnecessary multi-billion-dollar subsidies taxpayers give fossil fuels each year. Solar and wind energy subsides have been eliminated, but they are still becoming cost competitive, and when they scale up they will be cheaper than fossil fuels are now, with no "externalities."

A consumer-friendly tax swap that would tax fossil fuels — not us — would phase them out without government regulations. Waiting just five more years to act on climate change is estimated by the International Energy Agency to cost about $5 trillion more. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports say fast and aggressive action on climate change would cost about 0.06 percent of GDP, essentially a rounding error.

LYNN GOLDFARB

Lancaster






EDITORIAL: Supreme Court ruling could help clear the air
York Dispatch
UPDATED: 05/01/2014 07:41:18 AM EDT
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/opinion/ci_25674430/editorial-supreme-court-ruling-could-help-clear-air?source=nav


For anyone concerned about the quality of the air we breathe — which should be, well kind of everyone — an American Lung Association report released Tuesday was discouraging.

The York County metropolitan area received two fails in the 15th annual "State of the Air" report.

The report uses air pollution data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency for 2010 through 2012 and ranks 217 metro areas in three categories.

York County — which was analyzed as part of the Harrisburg-York-Lebanon area — was 18th worst in the country for short-term particle pollution, made up of soot, dust and aerosols. It was 64th worst for ozone pollution, or smog.

We only received a passing grade — meaning we met the national air quality standard — for year-round particle pollution. Although, even there, 184 areas managed to do better than us.

That doesn't exactly make us breathe easier.

Everyone should be concerned because both particle and smog pollution can cause serious health problems, according to Kevin Stewart, the Mid-Atlantic director of environmental health for the American Lung Association.

Smog is a powerful respiratory irritant that sears lung tissues and can affect even healthy people's ability to breathe, he said, adding particle pollution can enter the bloodstream, leading to heart attack and even death in people with heart disease.

York's air is better than it was 15 years ago, according to the recent report. And nationwide, year-round particle pollution levels have declined as a result of the Clean Air Act, which was introduced in 1963 and amended several times.

It's important to keep that law strong if progress is to be made, Stewart said.

Coincidentally, the Supreme Court reinforced the Clean Air Act on the same day the American Lung Association released its latest "State of the Air" report.

In a 6-2 ruling Tuesday, the court upheld federally imposed limits on emissions from power plants in 28 states, including Pennsylvania. The ruling solidified a decades-long EPA effort to reduce smokestack emissions that pollute the air in downwind states.

That's a win for Pennsylvania, particularly the York metro area.

Stewart couldn't pinpoint exactly why our air is so bad, but said it's likely some of the pollution is coming from nearby Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and the Ohio River Valley.

And, of course, Pennsylvania is contributing to the air-quality problems of other states. In fact, the defendant in the recent Supreme Court case was a power plant in Indiana County.

The bottom line, as the saying goes, is air pollution knows no boundaries.

It's everyone's problem, and it will take a concerted, continuing effort to clean up the mess.

Tell your representative in Congress you care about clean air.






OP-ED: York County no stranger to climate change
By JON CLARK
Citizens' Climate Lobby
UPDATED: 04/30/2014 07:48:24 AM EDT
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/opinion/ci_25665735/op-ed-york-county-no-stranger-climate-change


"In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans."

This is according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released recently that relays the impacts of climate change all over the globe. York County residents are dealing with the impacts of climate change along with the rest of the world.

Anyone excited for upcoming summer cookouts will be in for a shock if they haven't checked the price of beef lately. According to the USDA, the U.S. cattle herd is the smallest it's been since 1951. This is driving meat and dairy prices to record highs as ranchers have been dealing with years of punishing drought out West.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently, "Federal forecasters estimate retail food prices will rise as much as 3.5 percent this year, the biggest annual increase in three years, as drought in parts of the U.S. and other producing regions drives up prices for many agricultural goods."

Ongoing drought in California — which supplies about half of the nation's fruits, nuts and vegetables — will continue to raise the price of many crops.

According to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor, 95 percent of the state of California was in severe drought or worse. More than 23 percent of the state is in "exceptional" drought, the worst category. March officially marked the end of California's "rainy" season, which normally runs from October through March. Officials there are preparing for the worst, as May starts their wildfire season, a season that has been lasting year round recently.

Bottom line: Worsening droughts due to climate change are at the very least raising food prices on all of us and threatens our food security.

Many York County residents have suffered through multiple days of power loss due to extreme weather over the past two years. Research recently released by Climate Central reports: "Climate change is causing an increase in many types of extreme weather. Heat waves are hotter, heavy rain events are heavier, and winter storms have increased in both frequency and intensity. To date, these kinds of severe weather are among the leading causes of large-scale power outages in the United States. Climate change will increase the risk of more violent weather and more frequent damage to our electrical system, affecting hundreds of millions of people, and costing Americans and the economy tens of billions of dollars each year."

Their research analyzed 28 years of power outage data from utilities. The data, supplied to the federal government and the North American Electric Reliability Corp., showed a "tenfold increase in major power outages (those affecting more than 50,000 customer homes or businesses), between the mid-1980s and 2012. Some of the increase was driven by improved reporting. Yet even since 2003, after stricter reporting requirements were widely implemented, the average annual number of weather-related power outages doubled."

Michigan led all states with 71 major weather-related power outages between 2003 and 2012, and Pennsylvania ranked fourth in outages with 52.

Climate change is leaving many in the dark.

Congress also seems to be in the dark with our rapidly destabilizing climate. Scientists are as sure we are causing the planet to warm by burning fossil fuels as they are sure that cigarettes kill. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree with this, yet Congress refuses to act.

This forces President Obama to deal with the situation through the only way he can, EPA regulations.

Given many in Congress's extreme dislike of regulation, they can address the problem with a market-based approach, a steadily rising tax on fossil fuels. We can avoid harming the economy by returning 100 percent of the revenue collected back to every household, encouraging households to lower their carbon "footprint" to keep that extra cash. A carbon tax would help local companies like Voith Hydro and Johnson Controls, as investment dollars would shift away from fossil fuels toward clean energy and energy efficiency, something these two companies deal with.

One thing is certain, York County residents are paying for our addiction to fossil fuels in one form or another. It might be through higher food prices or disaster relief from more frequent and more extreme weather, negative health impacts from huge polluting sources like Brunner Island, the costs associated with treating respiratory illness and other health impacts from air and water pollution, direct subsidies to the fossil fuels industry – the list goes on.

This amounts to a distortion of the free-market. By not making fossil fuels accountable for their damages, fossil fuels enjoy a competitive advantage over clean energy at the expense of society. A revenue-neutral carbon tax is a simple and fair fix to the mother of all market failures.

— Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby.






In support of a fully-refunded carbon tax (letter)


Many feel that a carbon tax, even one taxed upstream at the source and fully refunded equally to households, would kill the economy, send us all back into the Middle Ages etc. It would kill everything, they say.

Many say that business owners are role models, and that business owners hate the idea of new taxes. While it’s very well recognized that small businesses are excellent supporters of their surrounding communities, it’s felt that multinationals are out to pit nations against each other in a race to the bottom.

So surely these evil multinational conglomerates are the greatest enemies of a carbon tax of any kind, seeing no harm in externalizing all societal costs of their fossil fuel usage.

Wrong. Corporations have started internally accounting for the full costs of their fossil fuel reliance. This includes ExxonMobil ($60/ton), BP ($40/ton), Shell ($40/ton), Total ($34/ton), Ameren ($30/ton), Xcel Energy ($20/ton), Google ($15/ton), Disney ($10-$20/ton), ConocoPhilips ($9-$46/ton), Microsoft ($6 - $8/ton), Chevron, Wal-Mart and American Electric Power.

An online search of “internal corporate carbon fee” shows businesses getting serious about reducing their fossil fuel addiction ahead of governments and ahead of much of the public.

If ExxonMobil and BP of all companies can recognize the need to step away our from our fossil fuel addiction and change accordingly, maybe more of us can too.


— Roger Twitchell, York






Melting ice sheets don’t lie (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 04/28/2014 03:34:34 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25653758/melting-ice-sheets-don-rsquo-t-lie-letter


Thank you Rev. Hescox for your op-ed, “An exchange with the president on climate” (YDR, April 25). Also congratulations to Katherine Hayhoe, who was just named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People. Dr. Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist who is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University; she is also an evangelical Christian. The Rev. Hescox and Dr. Hayhoe shatter the myth that voicing concern about climate change is a liberal plot to … (insert conspiracy theory here).

There is overwhelming consensus among climate scientists — 97 percent of whom agree that we are warming the earth by adding additional greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. The evidence of warming is undeniable. Glaciers and ice sheets are rapidly disappearing, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more extreme, wildfires are becoming bigger and more destructive, Arctic sea ice continues its rapid decline, and the rate of decline is increasing, sea levels are rising and the speed of rise is increasing. These are the facts; they are measured and observed.

Will Republicans rise up and take on the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced? Rep. Perry, we need your leadership on this issue. Too many in Congress seem to ignore the problem because they hate the solution. There is an alternative approach to intrusive EPA regulations, a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Ironically, the more time we delay action, the more intrusive government will get for a couple of reasons. We will still have to mitigate the ever-worsening problem, but over a much shorter time frame, which will likely be in a way much less business friendly than if we pass a carbon tax. Also, we will have to do an enormous amount of adaptation, where government spends tens of billions through FEMA and gets into the business of telling people where they can and can’t live (due to expanding floodplains from sea level rise) and how they can live (water restrictions with increasing drought out West). Climate change is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed now. Rising sea levels and disappearing ice sheets don’t lie.

— Jon Clark, Conewago Township






Scientific authority on climate change: NIPCC or IPCC (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 04/25/2014 04:19:07 PM EDT
Climate change is well documented in the scientific literature. Virtually every current peer-reviewed publication supports the increasingly robust theory that our planetary climate is changing and that humans are primarily responsible for recent warming. Every major national scientific professional society — including my own American Chemical Society — publishes a strong climate science statement. If scientists are in such widespread agreement, why is there a public perception that scientists are divided on the issue of climate change?

We can find the answer to this question — in part — reflected in a recent York Daily Record letter authored by Missy Updyke (April 21). Updyke's “A second opinion on climate change” states, “the science is not settled just because a corrupt international bureaucracy declares it so.” She attacks the “propaganda, including wild exaggerations” disseminated by the IPCC. She instead promotes the NIPCC as an authoritative voice that has “no formal attachment to or sponsorship from any government or governmental agency.”

Let me set the record straight. I have had direct contact and interaction with both the IPCC and NIPCC.

NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change): In order to become more informed about self-proclaimed climate skeptic data, I attended the June 2009 Third International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, D.C., at which the NIPCC released its first “Climate Change Reconsidered” assessment report. The lead-off speaker was Dr. Richard Lindzen, one of the go-to climate skeptics because of his MIT credentials. He received a standing ovation from the breakfast crowd even before he spoke.

Later in the day, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., was the keynote speaker. Inhofe is widely recognized for proclaiming the threat of global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” (Senate floor speech, July 28, 2003). Inhofe received repeated up-and-down standing ovations from his energized audience. Frankly, this conference seemed more like a tent meeting of climate-skeptic evangelists than a scientific congress.

Both the conference and the NIPCC assessment report were funded by the Heartland Institute, a conservative and libertarian think tank. In turn, the Heartland Institute is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, fossil fuel industries, tobacco industries and multiple other individuals and corporations focused on influencing governmental policy. With a little research, you can easily follow the money and influence. In other words, the NIPCC is far from an organization that “seeks to objectively analyze and interpret data and facts without conforming to any specific agenda.” The singular goal of the NIPCC is to sow uncertainty and doubt in the interest of influencing policy.

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): During the second half of the 20th century, increasing studies from multiple scientific disciplines were documenting climate change and related impacts. By the 1980s, it was recognized that a comprehensive assessment body needed to be formed to determine what we know and where the uncertainties lie. Global-scale issues required a global-scale organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was born.

The IPCC is currently recognized by scientists and policy makers around the globe as the most comprehensive and authoritative body for assessing the science of climate change. The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Association (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to provide independent analysis of the existing consensus within the scientific community.

In support of my research, I visited the IPCC Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. The Secretariat occupies the 8th floor of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) headquarters. Although the IPCC Assessment Reports are widely cited in the literature, little is said about the Secretariat and the organizational structure of the IPCC. In the words of the information and communication officer, “the Secretariat plays a coordinating role. The IPCC is huge, but at the same time it is very tiny. It involves thousands of scientists, who participate on a voluntary basis, but the administrative part of the organization is tiny.” The Secretariat includes only 13 paid staffers. Scientists from all over the world contribute to its work, none of whom are “paid a single penny” for their efforts.

The IPCC is apolitical. Its role is not to make policy; that is for governmental entities. The role of the IPCC is to assess peer-reviewed, published scientific and technical literature. The IPCC then makes this information available to policymakers.

In summary, the aim of the IPCC is to be objective, open and transparent in its rigorous review of the literature. Although the IPCC is policy neutral, it is policy relevant. By contrast, the NIPCC is well-funded by special interests with the express goal of influencing policy.

The disinformation campaign of the NIPCC has effectively muddied the scientific waters — they don't need to be correct, just to create doubt. The public incorrectly assumes there remains a debate among the scientific community. This has thwarted any real action to date by our policy makers.

— Keith Peterman, professor of chemistry, York College, author of Global Hot topic blog




An exchange with the president on climate (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 04/25/2014 02:44:00 PM EDT
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25637407/an-exchange-president-climate-letter


It's rare to have the opportunity to shake the hand of the President of the United States and share a few words. In all honesty, it's something I never, ever expected to do. But it happened recently at the annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast.

After worship ended, the president walked to each table, greeted us all, and stopped for a photo-op. In my normal unreserved fashion, I told the president, "I'm your friendly evangelical Republican environmentalist." The president smiled. Then, referring to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), administrator Gina McCarthy, I said "Thanks for supporting Gina and her work!" The president gave one of his classic gigantic grins along with a big thumbs up.

Many know that I have strongly supported Gina McCarthy. While there are things on which we profoundly disagree, together we work to defend our kids from environmental threats.

At the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) we believe that creation care is a matter of life. We worked long and hard to defend our unborn babies from the hazards of mercury pollution, and now we support administrator McCarthy's leadership in overcoming the greatest environmental threat to all God's children, climate change.

Some of my brothers and sisters in the evangelical community and a good number of my fellow Republicans are aghast at my support. However, God is calling us to find common ground. We are not to settle for lowest common denominator, but reach for summit of the highest peak in protecting the most vulnerable. If the church won't act as the bridge stretching over political and cultural divides, who will?

At the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, the Holy Spirit brought us together. When the choir sang, I felt I heard angels, and The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, who some consider the best preacher in the country, delivered a truly inspired message.

The spirit of unity at the Easter Prayer Breakfast reminded me of one aspect of American church life in the first half of the 19th century. Baptist and Methodist traditions grew at an amazing pace. One reason for their tremendous popularity was the altar call. At the altar, there were no black or white, slaves or free, rich or poor, or even political parties. There were simply children of God in need of redemption and restoration.

Like the alter call of old, it's time for our country to experience a new spirit of unity, a new day in our public discourse. It's time to bridge differences like our partisan divide and unite our nation under God to turn our challenges into opportunities.

I experienced hope that we might come together not because of our differences, but because of God. Miracles happen. Who would have believed a coal miner's kid from a little town in western Pennsylvania would ever shake the hand of the President of the United States in the White House? May God work in all of us to follow our risen Lord. May our encounter with the risen Jesus transform our lives, overcome the divide, and guide us over the mountain to work together.

The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is president/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom.






Small has a plan for success (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 03/07/2014 11:13:43 AM EST
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25295562/small-has-plan-success-letter


With all of the juvenile behavior that has been exhibited lately by two of the candidates seeking to replace Sen. Waugh, I think it is refreshing to notice there is one candidate who has remained above the name calling and taunting. While Ron Miller and Scott Wagner act like third-grade schoolyard bullies, calling each other names and declaring no agenda other than anger, Linda Small has managed to remain above the fray and has proposed a plan that speaks to financial responsibility, job growth and human compassion.


I would much rather be represented by someone who has a plan for success and goals for success rather than an angry bully who only wants to tear down established institutions.


— David Moyar, Springettsbury Township






All-electric car is no toy (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 03/07/2014 11:12:08 AM EST

We bought an all-electric car. It doesn’t need any gas, oil changes or emissions tests.
It’s a real 3,360-pound hatchback with comfortable seats, great climate control, high safety ratings, modern electronics — everything we want in a daily-use vehicle. It is fun to drive, has great pickup and is unbelievably quiet.

We also own an SUV, but this Nissan LEAF does 90 percent of our 1,200 miles per month. We run all over York for all sorts of things, and we stop at Rutter’s or Sheetz for great breakfast sandwiches — but not gasoline.

Gasoline? To quote Doc Brown, “No, no, no, no, no, this sucker’s electrical.” We plug the LEAF into a 240-volt outlet in our garage and it charges up in hours — all ready for the next whirl around York. We will save more than $1,000 per year on energy costs.

We only leave the area if we know in advance where we can re-charge. It isn’t like driving a gas car that can be refueled anywhere. Some chargers are free and some bill for the electricity and/or time.

How far does it go? We get between 70 and 100 miles on a full charge — plenty for our daily run-arounds in the York area.

We use our iPhone to locate chargers, and to control the LEAF remotely: to turn on the heater or A/C or to ask how many miles remain on the current charge.

This makes sense for folks with another vehicle for distance driving. It also makes sense for folks with a garage, carport, parking lot, or driveway where a suitable electric charger/outlet can be installed.

So check it out. And don’t miss the government financial incentives and the competition.

Happy driving.


— Daniel Brocklebank, Loganville






LETTER: Protect environment and create jobs
York Dispatch
UPDATED: 03/03/2014 08:45:44 AM EST
http://www.yorkdispatch.com/opinion/ci_25263293/editorial-page-monday


Printing at the old American Color Graphics/Vertis facility ended four years ago. The workforce there had vast experience in printing, with much of the leadership having started in the 1980s. Some from ACG work in Lancaster now, one having mentioned he's "up to $12 an hour," which isn't enough to buy a house. The time and fuel costs of rising commutes are significant especially when combined with stagnant or declining wages.

There are many parallels between roll-based printing and making rechargeable batteries. Instead of ink, a special slurry made on-site is used (using equipment many food processors would find familiar). Instead of paper, rolls of copper or aluminum are used. The slurry goes onto the foil via a roll-to-roll press familiar in design to any printer. Slitting is done on equipment partly identical to that used in roll-based printing. For pouch or prismatic cells, a stacker is used, similar in operation to printing stackers.

Much of the equipment used in making advanced rechargeable batteries would be familiar to many Yorkers trying to find a better place in a changing work landscape.

It is assumed that policymakers must choose between helping the economy or helping the environment, with only a flawed compromise being workable. This is not entirely true.

Near the old ACG building is Voith-Siemens, one of the world's best manufacturers of hydroelectric dam turbines. I doubt anyone there will tell you renewable energy comes at the expense of jobs because that's simply not their experience.

A high-level worker at a coal-fired power plant once told me what's really needed to help address climate change is energy storage for the electrical grid. Anyone who understands grid operation sees that need to store night surplus for daytime use.

We have the technically inclined available workforce with a strong work ethic required to help build that energy storage. In France, Germany and Japan, advanced rechargeable battery manufacturing has been a significant industry for decades. The increasing electrification of vehicles will also require far better batteries as things like automatic idle stop/restart become a standard feature. The need is there.

There's no reason York shouldn't have an advanced rechargeable battery-manufacturing facility as well. Instead of losing printing skills, let's use them to help swim in the modern economy so more people can stop sinking.

ROGER TWITCHELL
York City member of the Citizens Climate Council






Natural drivers, ice ages, humans and science (column)
By Keith Peterman
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 02/21/2014 02:57:46 PM EST
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25200649/natural-drivers-ice-ages-humans-and-science-column


In his Feb. 15, 2014 letter, "Global Warming in the deep freeze," Keith Dasher states, "The earth has gone through at least nine ice ages and warming cycles since day one. Do you really think man can stop it or be responsible?" His editorial attacks climate scientists as "alarmists" and "liars" who "have a huge political agenda."

Mr. Dasher is in part correct, and in part confused. I will begin with the part where he is correct.
Natural climate change drivers and ice ages

There are two primary natural drivers of climate change that are not the result of human activity. These drivers are solar variation and volcanic eruptions.

Solar radiation is the main power source for our climate system. It is well documented that variations in Earth's orbit have driven the ice age cycles. Earth's orbit is not round; our path around the sun is actually elliptical, and the shape of that ellipse changes with time. Earth also tilts on its axis as it rotates, and it wobbles like a top. Throughout geological time periods, complex variations in Earth's orbit, tilt and wobble have converged in cycles that altered the balance and distribution of solar radiation on the surface of our planet. These cycles (called Milankovitch Cycles) can be calculated with precision, and there is strong scientific evidence to link the cycles with periodic glaciations beginning with the ice ages. These calculations show that we will not enter another ice age for 30,000 years.

Now, I will address some areas of confusion in Mr. Dasher's letter as well as provide some background information.

Solar variation also affects our climate on the short-term. The sun's solar output is not constant. It varies between a maximum and minimum over an 11-year cycle by about 0.1 percent. The contribution of this short-term varying solar irradiance as a natural driver is relatively small.

Volcanic eruptions can cause our planet to cool by spewing ash and gases into the atmosphere. Ash settles out in about three to four months. Gases blown into the stratosphere are converted into aerosols and begin to settle from the atmosphere in about 12 to 14 months. The ash and aerosols from volcanic eruptions can cause measurable planetary cooling for up to two years.
Human impacts

Solar variation and volcanic eruptions alone cannot explain the observed global warming of recent decades. Human activity has clearly emerged as the primary driver of recent warming, especially since the 1960s. When I was a 10-year-old boy, a young scientist named Dave Keeling obtained the first high-accuracy, high-precision measurement of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere at 313 ppm (parts per million). We will pass the 400 ppm mark in April or May of this year. (Note: Media outlets prematurely reported that we passed the 400 ppm park last year based on preliminary data.)

During 10,000 years of human history, the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in our atmosphere was relatively constant. Since the beginning of the industrial era, atmospheric CO2 has been rising rapidly. Since I was a 10-year-old boy, it has increased by more than 27 percent.

It is the trace amount of CO2 in our atmosphere that creates a natural greenhouse effect and keeps our planet warm. In the absence of CO2, Earth would be a cold, lifeless third-rock-from-the-sun. The rapid short-term increase of CO2 in our atmosphere is creating an enhanced greenhouse effect causing our planet to warm.

Sophisticated scientific models clearly show that humans are responsible for contributing this excess CO2, which results in the enhanced greenhouse effect (dubbed "global warming"). Yes, Mr. Dasher, "Man (is) responsible."
On science and politics

In our approach to understanding how nature works, we as scientists employ a methodology often referred to as the scientific method. To begin, scientists make observations. This is the foundation of scientific thinking.

But scientists also want to know why nature works the way it does. The scientist will set forth a proposal called a hypothesis, which is a testable explanation for an observable phenomenon. An hypothesis must be falsifiable. This means that scientists must be able to test the hypothesis. If it can't be tested, it isn't a scientific hypothesis — this is what distinguishes science from speculation or belief.

A hypothesis that has been tested and supported by experiments over and over again may result in a scientific theory. A theory is a concept that unifies a broad range of observations within the natural world. The theory explaining the warming of our planet is robust and strongly supported by independently collected and analyzed data from around the globe.

Scientists are not "alarmists." The very nature of scientific inquiry requires a conservative approach. Politics, ideologies and belief systems, on the other hand, cannot be falsified — they just need to be convincing.

There is no grand global conspiracy of scientists to promote a "belief" in global warming and a "political agenda." Scientists observe, collect data, hypothesize (it must be a falsifiable), test and correct.

Nearly all current peer-reviewed scientific articles converge on the same conclusion: humans are responsible for the current warming we are observing. Media and others have coined this "consensus." It is not a vote. It is scientists independently arriving at the same conclusion.

Keith Peterman is a chemistry professor at York College.
This piece originally appear on his Global Hot Topic blog.






Climate change deniers denied
By Porter Hedge
York Daily Record
02/20/2014

The silly climate change denial in the YDR letter section reminds me of a political cartoon I saw recently.  It shows a man looking out his front door and saying something like since it's flat as far as I can see, the whole world must be flat.  Translation - it's not snowing all over the planet.  In fact, California is in the midst of its worst drought in 50 years.

Guess what, folks: no scientist anywhere predicted every month will be warmer than the last.  Same goes for yearly records.  Not every year will be warmer than the last; this doesn't mean the planet is cooling.  Climate scientists look at long-term trends, decades, millennia.  Climate change deniers look for any short-term cooling trend because they hear it on Fox, or from the coal, oil and gas companies - the ones who are raking billions while putting humanity at risk.  Nine of the top 10 warmest years on record occurred this century.  We're guaranteed to have another record hot year coming up; it may be this year or it may be next.  I think it's safe to guarantee that when this happens, the climate change deniers will find some new myth to push - maybe the myth that climate scientists are poised to make money on climate change.  That's hilarious.  How, by making speeches?  The denier scientists are the ones being paid by big industry to try to preserve the status quo.

It sure is funny how a snow storm brings out the small but vocal climate-change-denial crowd.  Record-breaking heat waves?  Not so much.  That's the thing with climate change.  Climate change denial goes away with warm weather; climate science lasts year round.  Climate scientists don't have to depend on the weather to make their case; it's making their case for them.

Porter Hedge, York






Location of gas drilling isn't the urgent issue; climate change is: PennLive letters
By Letters to the Editor
Harrisburg Patriot News / pennlive.com
on February 14, 2014 at 8:15 AM, updated February 14, 2014 at 8:25 AM
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/02/gas_drilling_state_forest_parks_global_warming_climate_change.html#incart_river

I was happy to read the Patriot-News February 6th editorial, “Corbett should opt against expansion of drilling in parks,” arguing against Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to allow natural gas extraction from under state parks and forests if the drill pads are located on adjacent private land. The editorial raised the usual disturbing questions about fracking: water quality, forest fragmentation, pipelines, compressor stations, truck traffic, air quality and fees and taxes.

So here we are once again arguing important points but missing the big one. That is, a sustainable future based on fossil fuels is not possible. Instead of continued infrastructure development in support of fossil fuels, we need to be working toward alternative forms of energy development. If we continue burning fossil fuels rapidly, then future climate warming will far exceed anything we have seen so far.

Of course, jobs and economic and environmental concerns of today are important but all must be addressed within the framework of the long-term consequences of global climate change. Ignoring climate change is not going to prevent the associated problems. Elected officials and the Patriot-News should not be ducking the larger issue.


MICHAEL MARK, Derry Twp.






Oppose Chesapeake gas facility (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED: 02/12/2014 04:05:43 PM EST
http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_25122437/oppose-chesapeake-gas-facility-letter


Domestic natural gas supply has increased enough to reduce the wholesale price to well below what foreign markets would offer for it. So Dominion and other corporate “players” as they call themselves want to send our natural gas overseas. The increased demand would increase domestic prices enough to support new fracking “plays” comparably to expansion during the original Marcellus Shale boom.

The flipside includes those price increases showing in heating and energy costs throughout North America. We thought fracking’s benefits were for our common good. Fracking “players,” however, see exporting as a long-term goal. This would hurt everyone paying for heat, energy and the plethora of natural gas reliant chemical products all across North America. Dow, ALCOA, the American Public Gas Association and many others oppose the resulting higher costs, forming “America’s Energy Advantage” to keep fracking’s benefits here.

Liquified natural gas is to be sent to India and Japan from the Chesapeake Bay’s Cove Point liquification plant and port, over 11,000 miles by ship. Leakage in India’s distribution system will make the environmental impact of use and leakage alone comparable to that of typical coal. Factor in huge liquification and transport costs and you have a worse-than-worst-coal mess.

Six foot high walls are to contain thunderous compressor noise right where Maryland watermen traditionally hunt for crabs and oysters. Powering those compressors will make Cove Point the fourth largest CO2 polluter in Maryland.

We appreciate the nearby Chesapeake Bay and the seafood it provides. Searching “Cove Point LNG” online shows our neighbors to the south oppose Dominion, which won’t even talk to the local homeowners’ association. Support of those neighbors including chesapeakeclimate.org is the right thing to do.

— Roger Twitchell, York City member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby






By Letters to the Editor
Harrisburg Patriot News / pennlive.com
on February 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM, updated February 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/02/dont_like_subsidizing_flood_insurance_then_help_fight_global_warming_pennlive_letters.html#incart_river


I agree with Douglas Stanley’s letter “I'm sick of my tax dollars subsidizing people who live in flood zones” — at least in part.

We shouldn't be subsidizing people to live in risky flood prone areas. One problem is that flood maps are now being redrawn and will constantly need to be updated to reflect rising sea levels due to climate change. People who didn't previously live in a flood zone may suddenly find themselves paying for increasing insurance premiums through little fault of their own. Take for instance New York City, which saw the number of structures at risk of flooding double after Sandy hit.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the rate of sea level rise is increasing due to thermal expansion (warming oceans) and ice melt. The IPCC estimates global sea level rose at a rate of 1.7 millimeters a year over the 20th century. Since 1993, sea level has been rising at a rate of around 3 millimeters a year, significantly higher than the average during the previous half century.

By not incorporating the costs associated with sea level rise (such as New York city’s proposal to build $20 billion sea walls to protect from rising waters) into the price of fossil fuels, taxpayers are unfairly shouldering this burden as well. We need to price carbon pollution according to the damages it causes. By continuing to keep our heads firmly buried in the sand with climate change and its consequences, we risk drowning in the problem.


JON CLARK, Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator, Citizens Climate Lobby, Conewago Twp.






Livestock industry gets a pass on climate change [Letter]
Baltimore Sun
12:45 p.m. EST, February 12, 2014

I'm so glad the Obama administration is developing support mechanisms to help the livestock industry adjust to the impacts of climate change ("U.S. sets up 10 'climate hubs' to assist farmers, ranchers," Feb 6). Since the industry is among the largest sources of greenhouse gases, it's only appropriate the government establish a support program to help them with their addiction, right?

Next, shall we also establish a burn healing center for arsonists? How about a road rash support group for dirt bike gangs? How about PTSD support groups for bank robbers? And oil industry executives need help with anxiety, since recent oil spills and accidents in Arkansas and North Dakota have surely increased the stress on CEOs who earn only $15,000 per hour.

Give me a break. With the help of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the industry is desperately trying to fit the square peg of animal agriculture into the round hole of sustainability. Even though it's not a good fit, at least have the quiet acquiescence of the mainstream environmental community and locavore groups, so they don't have to bend quite so far backward to convince the public otherwise. If the public actually knew the full cost of their products, the industry would be forced to pull itself up by its bootstraps, as is so often the advice of its conservative apologists. But with the receipt of $38 billion in annual government handouts already, who can blame them for coming back to the public feeding trough for more? Those poor guys. I'm so distraught, now I need a sympathy support group.

Mark Rifkin, Baltimore






LETTER: Fracking solution a myth
York Dispatch
UPDATED: 01/31/2014 10:20:10 AM EST


Pennsylvania's families are already paying the price for climate change.

I applaud President Obama's commitment to cutting carbon pollution from power plants — by far the nation's largest source of global warming pollution.

It is clear from his State of the Union speech and his actions that the president intends to act when faced with the greatest environmental challenge of our time.

Unfortunately, President Obama and Pennsylvania are far too willing to embrace oil and gas, ensuring that we continue to create the pollution that fuels global warming, threatening our health and our environment.

Fracking contaminates our drinking water, makes nearby families sick with air pollution, and turns forest acres into industrial zones — all while hemorrhaging methane gas, which is more than 30 times as potent a contributor to climate change as carbon.

Our elected officials, like Sen. Bob Casey and Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, need to support the president's plan to cut global warming pollution from power plants while also pushing back against the myth that fracking for gas is a climate solution.

It's time to get Pennsylvania and the nation on track for a clean and sustainable future.

ELOWYN CORBY

PennEnvironment






LETTER: Question the value of combustion
York Dispatch
UPDATED:   01/27/2014 10:08:53 AM EST


Fossil fuel combustion gave us speedy transit of anything or anyone, anywhere, anytime; easy heating and affordable electricity; and even human flight. It helped give us "history's greatest superpower" status. So what could possibly be wrong with it?

Humanity's future is continuously determined partly by the continuous flow of opinions we all decide to form, leading us to whatever branch we go.

In ancient times, there were but a billion of us, now 7 billion, with 9.2 billion expected by 2050. The explosively growing global middle class will surely continue to want cars, microwaves and air conditioning for all, which is why developing nations' power requirements are growing exponentially.

We've gotten to the point where we're significantly affecting our own environment. As ice cores in Greenland contain a layer with a high lead concentration from Roman lead-smelting operations, today much of the increasingly exposed rock and melting old ice in the Arctic is covered in black carbon, largely traceable to recent centuries of fossil fuel combustion. That black carbon absorbs the sun's heat instead of reflecting it as new snow does, forming a strong positive feedback that reinforces Arctic melting. It's surprising how much soot has clearly accumulated on receding glaciers.

Meteorologists pointed out that Arctic melting weakened and destabilized the jet stream, recently sending the polar vortex our way as California recognizes its forest fire season to now be year-round.

The oceans have absorbed enough CO2 and acid rain to become acidic enough that it's increasingly hard for shellfish to grow those shells and for coral reefs to survive. Both rely on calcium, which dissolves in acid.

Petroleum producers are finding new sources increasingly hard to find as current sources require exponentially increasing energy inputs for each unit of energy produced. This is what is causing our economy to get pulled back down harder and harder every time it tries to stand up again.

We could decide to keep our economy on that oblivion-aimed curve, with its rising chronic unemployment issues we're already facing, or we can decide to support the highly labor-intensive green economy by switching to electrical suppliers, cars and devices that question combustion's future value.

Those decisions matter, and they are entirely within our control. Our decisions alone decide which direction we aim ourselves.

ROGER TWITCHELL

York City






1/23/14  York Daily Record

Healthy food, healthy community


This time of year, many of us make choices to improve ourselves. Some decide it’s finally time to quit smoking, others choose to exercise more, and most of us could eat better.

Despite the fact that York County has some of the richest farmland in the country, our county does not enjoy great health. In fact, our health statistics are sobering, even alarming. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to help. Well, here’s one.

The newly formed York County Food Alliance has a vision to create a healthy community where everyone has access to food produced in ways that protect and strengthen our environment and local economy. Please prayerfully consider offering a bit of your time and talents to help create this reality in York County. Attend Community Food Project Jan. 23, 6-8 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 2000 Hollywood Drive.

If each of us does just a little bit to help, we can create a healthy community.

— Willa Lefever, Spring Grove





1/17/14 York Dispatch

Warning Signs in the Arctic (Op-Ed)


Climate researchers are focused on the Arctic in recent years as nowhere else on Earth is our rapidly changing climate so apparent than the Arctic.

One of the most shocking examples of our rapidly changing climate is the loss of Arctic sea ice. The sea ice in the Arctic shrinks and grows with the changing of the seasons, but recent years have shown a stunning decline in the amount of summer sea ice left at the end of summer.

According to NOAA, "In 2012, summer minimum sea ice extent was recorded at 3.41 million square kilometers: the lowest of the satellite era, and 18 percent lower than in 2007, when the previous record of 4.17 million square kilometers was recorded."

Since 1979, the Arctic sea ice minimum extent has shrunk by more than 50 percent. Arctic sea ice plays a critical role in helping to cool the earth as its white surface reflects much of the sun's energy back to space.

Since much of the Arctic is ocean, the lack of sea ice means now the darker colored open ocean is absorbing heat, much like a black car is sweltering hot when left in the summer sun, and is amplifying warming in the Arctic.

As the National Research Council says in a report released last month entitled Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises, "The change in sea ice is largely irreversible, and substantial cooling is required to reestablish the original sea ice cover."

Once we lose this sea ice, there's no going back.

The opening of the Arctic poses a threat to our national security. Lack of sea ice means our Arctic coastlines must be monitored and patrolled more closely for increased traffic using now opened shipping lanes and searching for more extractable resources.

In November, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the Department of Defense's first ever Arctic Strategy, saying "As climate change and the viability of new energy sources shape the global environment, these shifts will affect our strategic outlook going forward, especially in the Arctic."

Recently Russian President Vladimir Putin told his military leadership they should build up their forces in the Arctic as a priority.

Tensions will increase as countries bordering the Arctic including the U.S., Russia and Canada maneuver to claim natural resources that may be beneath International waters.

In a sad and ironic twist, last September the first ever bulk cargo ship passed through the fabled Northwest Passage. The Nordic Orion, a 225-meter vessel carried a load of coal from Vancouver, British Columbia, and headed for Finland; its cargo destined to be burned adding even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and speeding the Arctic's demise even quicker.

In our glee to claim new shipping lanes and undiscovered natural resources in an ice-free Arctic, no one seems to question why the Arctic is becoming ice-free or what the implications of this may be for life on this planet.

Arctic species such as the walrus, ringed-seal, and polar bear depend on sea ice for their survival. In 2008 the world caught a glimpse of what the future may hold for polar bears in the Arctic when a satellite-tracked female polar bear and her yearling cub spent 9 days straight swimming in the Beaufort Sea searching for sea ice to hunt on. After a 426 mile swim she finally found sea ice, but in the process lost her cub, likely drowned due to exhaustion, and 22% of her body weight. Many Arctic species are threatened with extinction as the Arctic warms, there is nowhere left for them to migrate to.

A growing amount of research is linking the loss of Arctic sea ice with changing weather patterns around the world. Jennifer Francis, a Research Professor at Rutgers University, recently published research showing the amount of warming seen in the Arctic is causing the jet stream to slow and take large meandering patterns. The contrast in temperature between the equator and the poles is what pushes the jet stream. A warming Arctic means less of a temperature contrast resulting in a weakened jet stream, the jet stream looks less like the rolling west to east waves you would typically see, and more like a slow, meandering river with more of a north-south pattern.  This is causing some of the same weather patterns to be "stuck" in place for extended periods of time, leading to extremes in weather. It's also causing warmer southern temperatures to be pulled further north than usual and frigid Arctic temperatures to be pulled further south than usual, exactly why the "polar vortex" wasn't in the Arctic last week where it's usually found.

The news fortunately is not all bad. We have time to act to limit the amount of warming we are causing by burning fossil fuels, but time is limited. This will require us to act on a global scale and the U.S. must take a lead role in reducing our emissions. Most economists agree, a revenue-neutral carbon tax is the most efficient way to do so and if done smartly, can push other countries to do the same. Last June, President Obama asked Congress to bring him a market-based approach to addressing climate change, a revenue-neutral carbon tax is a conservative, free-market solution to the climate crisis.

Jon Clark is the Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby.






1/15/14 York Dispatch

Hot Summers and Cold Winters


In her letter “Bring down the cost of energy,” June Abernethy said that “there is no global warming unless, of course, record cold is evidence of man-made global warming.” This is a shining example of the lack of understanding of global warming among those who politicize the issue. The view that it is cold outside so there is no such thing as “global” warming is equivalent to “I just smoked a cigarette and I’m still alive so smoking cannot cause cancer.”

Look up these numbers. The land mass of the earth is 57,308,738 square miles. Pennsylvania’s land mass is 44,817 square miles, or about .0782 percent of the earth. Seven hundredths of 1 percent. York county is 904.18 square miles, or .00157 percent of the earth’s land mass. One hundred and fifty thousandths of 1 percent of the earth’s land mass.

Australia is in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave after experiencing the hottest year on record last year. The Telegraph reported it’s so hot that an estimated 100,000 bats have dropped dead from the record heat in Queensland Australia. The country is so hot and dry that ranchers are slaughtering their herds due to lack of water, and wildfires burn across the nation. How does this fit into the global cooling theory Ms. Abernethy puts forth?

The truth is this: One hot summer in Australia no more proves the planet is warming than one cold winter proves it’s cooling. Scientists track long-term trends in surface and ocean temperatures. There is absolutely no debate about the basic science of climate change. Each year of this century has ranked among the 14 hottest since record keeping began in 1880. The planet is warming and carbon dioxide released from burning fossil fuels is the cause. 

— Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township






1/8/14   Harrisburg Patriot News (Op-Ed)

Here’s why a carbon tax is key to fighting global warming


By Jon Clark

When it comes to why the United States lacks serious climate change legislation that would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to stabilize our climate, there are many poor excuses but no good reasons.

One common excuse is what a friend of mine calls the China excuse. It goes like this: China is building new coal-fired power plants so why should we hobble ourselves with a carbon tax? The answer is there are many good reasons to pass a revenue-neutral carbon tax, one of the best being that by doing so we can put pressure on developing countries like China to clean up their act as well.

We are digging up and releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere are the highest they’ve been in the past 800,000 years – before humans existed, sea levels were much higher and the earth was much hotter.

By treating our atmosphere like a garbage dump and allowing society to pump unlimited quantities of carbon pollution into it free of charge, we are recreating the chemical composition of our atmosphere from millions of years ago.

Our climate, the ice sheets and sea levels are responding to the change. At the start of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere were 280 parts per million (ppm); in 2013 we passed 400 ppm.

Recently James Hansen and 17 of the world’s leading climate experts published a new study where they make the strongest case to date for a target of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the air, or about 1 degree celsius (1.8 degrees F) total warming. Many scientists consider 350 ppm a “safe” level of carbon dioxide.

The study recommends that greenhouse gas emissions should decline by 6% per year starting immediately to avoid disaster. We are currently raising carbon dioxide levels globally by 2 percent to 3 percent per year.

The solution that economists recommend is taxing carbon pollution to make up for the hidden costs to society by burning fossil fuels. Taxing the bad stuff we want less of -like carbon pollution- makes much more sense than taxing the stuff we want more of – like income.

A “tax swap” would make the carbon tax revenue-neutral by returning equally to taxpayers 100 percent of the revenue collected and ensure that poor and middle-class families are not negatively affected.

This market signal would shift investment money away from fossil fuels and towards clean, carbon-free forms of energy and manufacturing, making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels. Where investment dollars flow, jobs will follow.

Here is the best part about a carbon tax. To protect American businesses from being undercut by foreign corporations (much like what happened to American solar manufacturer Solyndra when China dumped a large amount of heavily-subsidized solar panels on our market), we can tax imports from countries that do not a have a price on carbon emissions.

These countries would be forced to pay border penalties to the United States to retain access to lucrative American markets. The only way for the countries to avoid these penalties would be for those countries to also put a price on carbon.

Experts say this would not violate any current trade agreements “provided that policymakers carefully design a [carbon] tax, keeping in mind the basic requirements of the World Trade Organization not to discriminate in favor of domestic producers or to favor imports from certain countries over others… the threat of World Trade Organization challenges should not present a barrier to policymakers wishing to adopt a carbon tax system now.”

This is according to Jennifer Hillman, who was approved in December 2007 by the members of the World Trade Organization to serve as one of the seven members of the World Trade Organization’s appellate body, the final adjudicator of international trade disputes.

The China excuse doesn’t hold up under scrutiny and is actually a good reason for us to enact a revenue-neutral carbon tax with border tax adjustments on countries without a price on carbon.

With carbon dioxide levels going in the wrong direction, Congress can take a leadership role in addressing climate change by passing a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

If we do this smartly, we can put the power of the free-market to work to grow our economy while cleaning up our air and water and preserving a relatively stable climate for future generations.

As Hansen and the 17 other climate experts conclude in their study, “Our parent’s generation did not know that their energy use would harm future generations and other life on the planet. If we do not change our course, we can only pretend that we did not know.”

Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby.






1/5/14 York Daily Record

Conservation is a Conservative Value


The year after I was born we landed a man on the moon, and now we have the anti-science movement relying on cigarette industry PR tactics to keep our energy industry smoking as much as always, reality be darned. Sad. What happened to the optimistically future-obsessed, “better living through science” can-do nation I grew up in? I miss it, and I want it back.

If environmental protection is some sort of socialist-liberal thing, look up the political affiliations of the administrations which:

1) Turned the Yosemite Valley into a protected area.

2) Signed the Antiquities Act forming the early beginnings of the National Park Service via protection of many national monuments.

3) Created the EPA.

4) Addressed the growth of the hole in the ozone layer via the Montreal Protocol.

We are The People, the hopefully informed citizens of the United States of America, not Red People vs. Blue People vs. Green People or whatever. A house divided will fall. (What party did the guy that line came from come from?)

— Roger Twitchell, York






11/27/13  York Dispatch

The Environment is a Bipartisan Issue


Many consider environmental protection a strictly Democratic issue. Back a few decades, that wasn't so.

The Reagan and Bush senior administrations addressed concerns that we'd lose the protective ozone layer with the Montreal Protocol, what former Secretary of State George Shultz called in a recent interview a "no regrets" insurance policy that would help the economy even if the concerns proved unfounded. It quickly led to enough innovation to re-stabilize the ozone layer, now recovering.

"There were ozone skeptics back then, just as there are climate skeptics now. But we all agreed that, if what some scientists feared were to happen, it would be disastrous. So we took out an insurance policy. In retrospect, the non-skeptics turned out to be right, and the Montreal Protocol came around just in time."

His proposal taxes carbon and possibly other pollutants and returning all the revenue via tax cuts for income, savings and/or payroll, all welcome places for less taxation. Pollution usually decreases over time, decreasing the tax, with the incentive from that tax specifically encouraging anti-pollution innovation that will further decrease that taxation.

Considering that pollution is often from inefficient energy use, the tax would encourage smarter resource use via tools and practices just waiting for a bit more incentive for use, so long-term energy costs could easily decrease despite the tax and our energy problems.

This simple fee-and-dividend plan for pollution reduction by a respected elder statesman makes wonderful sense.

Roger Twitchell

York City






A little after 11/7/13  York Daily Record
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Just Trying to Help


Some say environmentalists are against everything that makes like life enjoyable.  They're sometimes depicted as an angry mob yelling about things they're not suggested as understanding - solution-less whiners in other words.

Unless you dig deeper...  Then you find work towards a flexible, distributed energy grid where sources, storage and consumers sometimes trade places depending on what's needed where.

You find people driving affordable transport that uses stored surplus nighttime electricity to power the owner's daily commute for a small fraction of the high operating cost of normal vehicles.  You find people working on having these cars help pay for themselves by helping buffer the grid while parked...  Much more interesting and useful than having the thing just sitting in place rusting for most of its lifetime.

You find already existing homes which are consumers during excess-production times but via rooftop photovoltaic panels switch to being providers in peak usage times often as predictably as clockwork.

You find people replacing grass area that just sits there requiring attention with thriving gardens that show gratitude for roof rain runoff watering by providing the freshest, most delicious and healthiest food possible.

You find focused support of local, community businesses so downtown can be a revitalizing destination instead of the county rotting from the inside out.

Instead of an “I'll be gone then so who cares” or “nothing I can do will help” non-approach you find understanding that if we all work on the problems a little bit as we can things will change for the better, and our lives will all be better for those individual efforts.

Roger Twitchell
York City






Early 7/13  Worshipping the Status Quo Un-American
The York Dispatch
URL ?


Some question whether we can afford to reduce our carbon footprint, while honest climate data analysis suggests we can't afford not to reduce our carbon footprint.

Crop damage from Midwestern dry heat waves won't help feed 2050's expected 9 billion people.

How do you protect the billion people in coastal areas from flooded homes?

Some say environmentalists are hypocrites who want to hurt the poor.  Who already pays for climate change?  Is it those billion in coastal areas vulnerable to storm damage and flooding? Who gets disease first?  Is it those living in low air quality zones including “Cancer Alley” areas near refineries because that's all they can afford?  Who pays the health costs of pollution?

Renewable electricity is not produced by displacing food crops.  Cats hurt wildlife far more than do wind turbines.  Solar power installations are ideal for land too dry for crops, and residential solar panel installation can reduce heat wave-induced grid strain while reducing one's own need for A/C via reduced roof temperatures.

My 2000 Honda Insight with 244,000 miles  averages 61 mpg while being more fun and reliable than a 5-speed CRX DX.  5 cents of pre-commute charging helps.  With a small DIY solar panel installation I average a $10 - $15 / month electric bill.

The energy required to extract, transport and process Alberta Tar Sands petroleum is greater than the energy it makes available to move a vehicle, making it an energy sink, not source.  As extraction goes deeper, using it to power transport will require ever-greater energy inputs.

Worshiping the status quo is not and has not been the American way.  American can-do innovative engineering won WWII and got us to the moon.  It's perfect for helping us lead in freeing ourselves from having to burn stuff to generate sufficient electricity or to get anything moved anywhere.  Creating and widely using new approaches and technology to help make the world a better place is what we Americans traditionally, instinctively do, and Yorkers certainly have the technical know-how and down-to-earth can-do spirit to help with that as we did so well in WWII.  So let's get involved to make a healthier world.

Roger Twitchell
York City

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