Paul Andersen: Pay for alternative energy or super storms?
October 1, 2017
Here's a choice: Do we pay for renewable energy or pay for climate change?
The Colorado Springs Gazette, in an editorial Sept. 20, favors the latter by decrying energy alternatives as an economic burden: "Colorado efforts to fix global warming financially burden the working class and poor. This is no longer speculation. Numbers tell the story in a news report released by the Colorado-based Independence Institute."
The Independence Institute is a Denver-based libertarian think tank that champions the continued use of fossil fuels. Its other right-wing agendas include opposition to the Affordable Care Act and support of the right to carry concealed weapons. No wonder the Institute churned out a study attempting to undermine action on climate change.
The study victimizes Colorado's working class and poor in a shameless guilt trip by lamenting how they will suffer financially from a shift to alternative energy as Colorado strives to reduce the state's per capita carbon footprint.
The conservative Gazette is marching lockstep with a purveyor of anti-environmental propaganda. What really rankles the Gazette is that Gov. John Hickenlooper has pledged to fulfill the Clean Power Plan mandate, despite the Trump administration's obeisance to the continued development and consumption of fossil fuels.
"President Donald Trump rescinded the plan with a new executive order," cheered the Gazette, "but Colorado will forge ahead without regard for the effect on electric rates."
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Good for Colorado! By mandating renewables, consumers may actually appreciate the value of electric power as a resource to steward rather than to throw away on energy extravagances that define most American lifestyles. Pricing creates an incentive for embracing efficiency and reducing climate changing emissions.
Conservatives at the Gazette see this as a threat to liberty — the liberty to waste energy from coal generation, the liberty to pollute the commons with carbon, the liberty to increase the likelihood of more and bigger super storms like Irma and Harvey.
Meanwhile, even liberal Time magazine took an odd stance in its current issue with the cover headline: "The storms keep getting stronger. And so do we." Talk of hubris!
Time rightly commemorates the quick and effective response of rescue units responding to storm damage and social mayhem in the wakes of hurricanes of unprecedented force and rainfall. The humane response was indeed inspiring.
But only in the final paragraphs does Time acknowledge that climate change contributes to super storms, a point that makes climate change deniers boiling mad. How inconvenient are certain truths to entrenched ideologies.
Scott Pruitt, the Trump appointee who heads the EPA, was quoted with a caution that it would be "insensitive" to bring up climate change at a time of natural catastrophe. His objections were met with rancor by the mayor of Miami, who described the deadly hurricane that hit his state as a "poster child" for what's to come.
Time agrees: "Warmer water and atmospheric temperatures are fueling extreme weather conditions. The greenhouse gases humans are pumping into the planetary system are a powerful and correctable cause of the illness."
Tempering the Earth's deadly fever will require investment now, but the dividends of climate stability will be worth every penny — even if it means the poor and working people of Colorado must pay a fair share of the consumer burden we all must accept.
"Colorado serves as a case study in renewable energy standards," boasts the Gazette. Except that it's not a boast. The Gazette condemns our progressive state for endorsing energy alternatives that undermine the vested interests of the fossil-fuel industry. "The numbers don't lie," concludes the Gazette with righteous indignation.
Other numbers don't lie, either — like the numbers of homeless and destitute poor who watched with terror as their floodplain home sites were submerged by torrents of super storms. Or by the vast number of the world's poor who will suffer the most with rising oceans. Other calculations must factor in the billions of dollars taxpayers will provide for salvaging storm-hammered communities.
The numbers add up to this: Colorado must continue its intelligent shift to alternatives rather than cater to the dictates of fossil fuels industries, their conservative interest groups and their shameless media mouthpieces.
Paul Andersen's column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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