Don’t ignore Earth
Regarding “Farewell, Cassini: Saturn spacecraft takes final dive” (Sept. 16): Isn’t it amazing that NASA scientists can send a spacecraft, Cassini, into space, having spent 13 years in orbit around Saturn and following a seven-year journey from Earth of over a billion miles? In its lifetime Cassini sent us incredible information about that planet and the solar system. It was even programmed to destruct in a way to prevent infecting another planet with our microbes.
But the current administration has the gall to deny the findings of our equally fine scientists studying Earth. The “true” news is that legitimate U.S. and world scientists’ research and on-the-ground-and-in-the-seas observations show that climate change is endangering the habitability of our home planet. The EPA now should be called the “Environmental Protection Antagonists.”
Nancy Corson Carter
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Solar fix ‘overstated’
“N.C. solar can replace fossil fuels, save billions” (Sept. 13) vastly overstates the climate change issue and its own dictated solution. Meteorologists are not claiming there are notable trends toward greater numbers or intensities of storms. The counts and intensities of hurricanes with levels of three or above remain weak and random. Anyone can get the data on the web. After all, it has been 12 years since the last major storm hit the U.S. It would be like claiming there will be an outburst of Power Ball winners in MA if there were two winners in 12 years.
Those record increases in temperature average about 0.01 C per year (0.4 to 0.5 C over 50 years). It has to be realized that those local peaks in temperature are often point measurements in energy-intense areas. The transport of broad area alternative energy transformation to local areas will still increase the temperature in energy-intense areas. The best data for large-area average temperatures are from satellite data.
Solar is a great alternative energy (I wrote a paper 60 years ago on circuit modeling with a photovoltaic cell as the energy source), but it is not true that the battery problem is solved or that the capital costs of solar collection plus a battery farm are lower than for a fuel-on-demand standard power plant. Just calculate the cost of a battery farm whose maximum capability is the kilowatt-hours of energy necessary to provide 200 hours of backup for a locale that averages a 10 Megawatt demand even if the sun doesn’t shine sufficiently well for a week. Having a “back-up” power plant with a 10 MW capability simply adds the capital costs of what they were without solar.
William T. Lynch
The Editorial Board is absolutely correct that “N.C. must prepare for era of giant storms” (Sept. 12), but the failure of government to embrace hurricane readiness isn’t just heartless toward the families and business that are doomed to suffer in the inevitable next big storm, it’s a brainless economic decision as well. Studies show that every dollar spent on natural disaster preparedness saves society an average of $4. The tight-fisted policies that have weakened our hurricane preparedness have been pushed by politicians so busy pinching pennies that they fail to notice the dollar bills being blown away by category 5 winds.
Gov. Roy Cooper is right to make storm readiness a priority, and we must hope that Congress also acts to shore up federal programs that support hazard mitigation and response. Then there is a third side of readiness: mitigating the warming that is driving sea levels higher and powering more destructive hurricanes. Economists agree the best first step to limit this warming and its costly consequences is to put a price on carbon. A carbon fee and dividend provides an opportunity to “avoid the unmanageable” impacts of climate change while actually growing the economy, providing Americans with adequate resources to “manage the unavoidable.”
Harvey better be a clarion call to all of us. We’ve had Katrina, Sandy, Matthew, Floyd and now Harvey to add to the rapidly growing list of recent mega-storms. The climate scientists tell us that the current level of CO2 in our atmosphere has already locked us into decades of even bigger and more frequent catastrophic “weather events.” So, humanity and most life on earth now faces a looming existential threat, with this being the first mass extinction that would actually include humans.
Needless to say, it’s in everyone’s interest in bringing stability to our climate. Tragically, if we don’t start to demand 100 percent renewable energy, which is now finally economically feasible and a huge job creator, it may actually be “game over” for our grandchildren. It’s that simple and it’s that stark. We all need to pull our heads out of the sand and start to insist on renewable energy.
Demand climate action
“N.C. must prepare for era of giant storms” (Sept. 12) rightly highlights the vulnerability of development on our state’s coastline. I’m struck by the sharp difference in how our country responds to the threat of terrorism and the threat of storms.
Both terrorism and massive hurricanes are national security issues. The storms fueled by a heating planet threaten our homes, our lives and our economy as we spend billions of taxpayer dollars on rebuilding. Why did Republicans declare war on terrorism after 9/11 but act as if we’re helpless to address the human contribution to hurricane-fueled destruction? Follow the money. The military-industrial complex benefits from government intervention in terrorism. By contrast, the fossil fuel industry benefits from government inaction on climate change. The real estate industry benefits from collective denial of the threat of storms to coastal development. Ordinary residents must demand that our politicians take prudent actions to protect communities.