As someone near and dear to me explains in another letter in today’s Messenger, human-caused climate change is occurring, and it will grow worse if we don’t quickly reduce our climate-warming emissions.
Climate change spares no one, including us here in Sanpete County. Already we are experiencing higher temperatures, drier soils, and more wildfires, flash floods, and struggling farms and ranches. This summer, smoke from climate-change-fueled fires elsewhere hung thick in our air for days and even weeks at a time.
Not enough is being done to stop climate change. Scientific reports have warned for many years that human emissions must be dramatically cut, but government figures show U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 were higher than in 1990, and global emissions have continued to rise.
The free market hasn’t fixed the problem, and history shows that government action, including standards and spending, has been vital to reducing pollution problems like smog and leaking hazardous waste sites.
The advances in electric cars and renewable energy mentioned in last week’s Opinion Exchange, for example, were prodded along by government standards and subsidies.
Past and current federal government spending has dramatically increased energy and water supplies and spurred the development of new, cleaner technologies.
During the Great Depression, the federal Bureau of Reclamation built the Hoover Dam, which transformed the Southwest by providing hydro-electric power and enough water for the desert to bloom. Under recent administrations of both parties, the federal government has invested in technologies that hold promise for transforming the ways we produce and use energy.
In fact, the federal government is a major investor in a U.S. project to demonstrate the viability of the new breed of nuclear power plants mentioned in last week’s column.
The federal government has also invested in carbon sequestration demonstration projects to show how coal and gas might be used without CO2 being released.
We need to demand more action from our elected leaders and ourselves. Why, for example, isn’t Utah generating more electricity from its most abundant resource – sunshine? As individuals, we can look for ways to save energy — and we can plant trees!
That would help meet President Trump’s goal of planting 1 trillion trees and regrow the tree canopy that our ancestors bestowed on us to cool our homes and yards. Sanpete County doesn’t have a lot of water, but we can make better use of what we have by watering more trees and less lawn.
In last week’s Opinion Exchange, Steve Clark and Alison Davidson were united in their vision of making smart changes to how we produce and use energy. That’s a vision we can all help make a reality for the sake of our children and their children.