Leaving Paris Pact A Bad Idea

Daily News-Record, June 17, 2017
Leslie Grady Jr., Opinion (Open Forum)

Why did the delegates cheer when they adopted the Paris Climate Agreement? Was it because now they could stick it to the U.S. and ruin our economy? No! It was because for the first time in history almost all countries recognized that we face a global problem and agreed to work together to solve it.

And now President Trump wants to pull the U.S. out of it? What about the Pacific islander, whose home is vulnerable to rising seas? Or the African villager, whose crops have failed because of unprecedented drought? Or the Pakistani laborer, whose income is cut because he can’t work in the summer due to life-threatening heat and humidity? Evidently, Trump wants to tell them: “Tough luck; we want a better deal!” Get serious! That’s a foolish idea born out of ignorance.

So why should we act on climate? There are three main reasons: moral, economic and political.

Because the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is the main driver of climate change, the United States bears a particular moral responsibility. Why? Because we released more than 25 percent of it, even though we are less than 5 percent of the global population. We also have the highest per capita emission rate, more than double that of Europe. But, acting on our emissions won’t just benefit others, it will also help us. Smarter use of energy will improve our economy, save us money, improve our quality of life, and make us healthier.

The illogical thing about leaving the Paris Climate Agreement is that it flies in the face of economic progress. The big energy markets of the future will be in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. They’re already embracing renewable energy, rather than just building centralized energy supplies based on fossil fuels. This trend will accelerate as better batteries and energy storage systems are developed. We could be selling those systems to the rest of the world, but instead, we’ll be viewed as turning our backs on them.

Global leadership is something the United States has embraced since the end of World War II, but leaving the Paris Climate Agreement brings that era to an end. “America First!” also means “Others Last!” That’s not the type of message that will resonate in today’s world. The Paris Climate Agreement was a shining example of global cooperation and the international response to Trump’s decision shows that the rest of the world doesn’t want to return to old “Me first!” policies.

Now, it’s up to us. We can lower our own carbon footprints. We can encourage our local governments to embrace energy efficiency and renewable energy. We can act to change energy policies at the state level to diminish the reliance on fossil fuels.

Embrace the spirit of the Paris Climate Agreement and act for a better tomorrow.

Mr. Grady lives in Harrisonburg.

Trump Is The Climate Threat, Not China, Not India

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – June 5, 2017

“Why should the U.S. act on climate change?” some ask. “China and India aren’t.” Recent developments show that such ideas are false.

For the third year in a row, China’s CO2 emissions have dropped, suggesting they have peaked 10 years earlier than pledged. Also, China recently canceled construction of more than 100 coal-fired power plants.

India has 6,700 MW of new nuclear power under construction and last week its cabinet approved plans to build an additional 7,000 MW. Furthermore, India will install 8,800 MW of solar power in 2017 and power companies bid to sell electricity from a new solar farm at 20 percent less than the cheapest coal-fired power. These actions put India on track to obtaining 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources eight years ahead of schedule.

China and India are moving rapidly to fulfill their climate pledges. It’s the U.S. that’s back-pedaling under President Trump.

Leslie Grady Jr.
Harrisonburg

Climate Action Now!

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – May 1, 2017
Tom Benevento, Opinion

A lasting memory I hold dear from my childhood is a time when my parents took me to the coast of Maine where I discovered sea stars along the rocky tide pools. They inspired me with appreciation for the diversity and beauty of life. After college, I went to those same coastal areas and taught marine ecology to 5th- and 6th-graders. They too were inspired by the beauty and magic of sea stars and knew that those experiences will be lasting memories for them. More recently, Princeton University confirmed that sea stars are dying rapidly due to warming oceans. My heart sank at the loss of such magnificent creatures.

During the past 10 years, I have worked on the Haitian-Dominican border with rural farmers. I have seen them suffer from food insecurity as their lands become drier and hotter. In desperation, one farmer told me he had nothing to feed his family for six weeks except mangos found in abandoned trees. Drought shriveled his corn.

Last year was the hottest on record with searing heatwaves of 123 and 129 degrees in India and Kuwait. Human activity’s effect on our climate is no longer subtle. It’s plain as day, note climate scientists from Penn State University. Concern is growing world-wide. Solutions are achievable.

Stanford University carefully mapped a plan for the United States to go renewable in 15 years. Here, 180 solar panels were recently installed on Gift and Thrift in an afternoon. The Renew Rocktown campaign helps residents get energy assessments to save money and energy. The Northend Greenway is moving forward. Solar co-ops are popping up around town.

Political candidates who took strong stands for the climate won in Harrisonburg, a sign that the community is ready for the next step. We must make a city climate-action plan focused on energy efficiency and renewables, sustainable transportation, regional food and waste and water reduction. Roanoke, Blacksburg, and Richmond have plans and are retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, reducing waste, and saving millions of city dollars. These actions have enormous benefits beside those affecting climate. They offer huge cost savings, improve health, air quality and urban livability, and create happier communities.

The time is right to take our future seriously, and make the positive changes we and our children deserve.

Mr. Benevento lives in Harrisonburg.

Why We March For The Climate

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – April 28, 2017

The Peoples Climate March this Saturday in Washington, D.C., will include a large delegation from the Valley, and there are as many reasons we’re going as there are marchers. There will be Democrats and Republicans, environmentalists and entrepreneurs, alarmists and optimists. Many have studied the science and the evidence and find them absolutely compelling, while others still have some uncertainty but love the idea of saving money with solar energy.

Some are going because they like to ski and winter is much milder now, or because they’re farmers and orchardists and the growing season has become wildly uncertain. Some may come from coal mining families but dream of joining the 100,000 wind energy employees now working in the U.S.

I, and many more, will march for our children and grandchildren and the ecosystem we all depend on, knowing, fearing, that whatever happens will happen to all of us, believers and deniers alike.

Joni Grady
Harrisonburg

A Conservative Climate Plan

Daily News-Record, April 1, 2017
Leslie Grady, Opinion (Open Forum)

cc_cover-222x300On Feb. 8, a delegation of Republican elder statesmen met with White House officials to propose a radical idea. They represented the Climate Leadership Council, and their idea was simple: because Republicans won the presidency and both houses of Congress, they now own the problem of climate change and must act on it. Why did they do this and what did they propose?

The why: Climate change is progressing more rapidly than many had expected, with increasingly severe costs, both human and economic. The human costs range from loss of life, through destruction of property, to long-term impacts on health and well-being. The economic costs range from loss of property, through decreases in labor productivity, to decline in agricultural yields. Just as we buy insurance to minimize the economic impacts of fires, auto collisions, and health catastrophes, immediate action against climate change is insurance against the greater losses that will occur without action.

The what: a conservative climate solution, called the Carbon Dividends Plan. According to the Climate Leadership Council, “any climate solution should be based on sound economic analysis and embody the principles of free markets and limited government.” Furthermore, “such a plan could strengthen our economy, benefit working-class Americans, reduce regulations, protect our natural heritage and consolidate a new era of Republican leadership. These benefits accrue regardless of one’s views on climate science.”

The plan has four components.

A gradually increasing tax on CO2 emissions: The tax would be imposed at the first point where fossil fuels enter the economy, meaning the mine, well, or port-of-entry. The tax would increase steadily over time, sending a signal to businesses and consumers that CO2 emissions must be reduced, encouraging innovation.

Carbon dividends for all Americans: The proceeds from the carbon tax would be returned to the American people on an equal and quarterly tax-free basis, making it revenue-neutral. These dividends would increase the disposable income of most Americans, while particularly helping those struggling to make ends meet.

Border carbon adjustments: Exporters to countries without comparable systems would receive rebates for carbon taxes paid, while importers from such countries would face fees on the carbon content of their products. This would protect American competitiveness and punish free-riding by other nations.

Significant regulatory rollback: Regulations such as those in the Clean Power Plan would no longer be necessary upon enactment of a rising carbon tax, and thus could be eliminated.

Importantly, everyone must give up something for the plan to be enacted. Republicans must give up their reluctance to accept climate science. Democrats must give up their reliance on regulation and trust in the free market. Nongovernmental organizations must stop dividing people into enemies and friends. All must work together to achieve a strong economy in a clean environment. If we can do that, we will all be winners.

Write or call Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. Ask them to help us adopt of the Carbon Dividends Plan.

Dr. Grady is a retired environmental engineering professor. He lives in Harrisonburg.

Goodlatte Supports Trump Plan For More Pollution

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – March 22, 2017

In 1973, as I looked out over the Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive, there was a blanket of dark smog about the level of the top of the Massanutten Peak. The park ranger said it was pollution from states to our west. It has much improved since then due to good environmental regulations.

Now we are taking a big step backward. President Trump’s administrator of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, when asked about pollution crossing state lines, had no comment. Pruitt sued the EPA multiple times over regulations and Trump has already signed an environmental executive order allowing stream pollution.

Our “representative,” Bob Goodlatte, who will not even come listen to us about any issue, has supported them completely. So as our environment and health start to deteriorate over time, we will know who to blame. Maybe with enough citizen input we can stop a flood of environmental degradation.

Charles Strickler
Harrisonburg

On Climate, Trump A Backward Reactionary

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – March 22, 2017

How do we reduce the trade deficit, create American jobs, stimulate the economy, undermine terrorism, improve our quality of life, and unify the nation with a sense of common purpose? By addressing the biggest challenge man has ever faced: climate change.

In doing so, we convert our energy system from one based on fossil fuels to one based on the sun’s energy, along with energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable practices. The result will be cheaper energy, greater exports of energy technology, elimination of dependency on Mideast oil, creation of millions of domestic jobs, and a less toxic environment.

Donald Trump’s plan is to ignore climate change and take us back to a 20th-century energy system and economy, a backward and reactionary strategy that will guarantee the United States will cease being the leader of the world.

H. Bishop Dansby
Keezletown

DN-R Misleads Again On Climate

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – November 18, 2016

Once again the editor has taken inaccurate information about climate change from the Wall Street Journal and used it to espouse a Pollyannaish view of the future (“To save a Gas,” Nov. 7). The scientific credibility of the cited article was rated as “very low” by six climate scientists at climatefeedback.org. Consider just two claims from the article and editorial.

One is that Earth will experience only modest warming this century in the face of continued fossil fuel use. A recent article in Nature Climate Change documents the fallacies in such a claim and concludes that future warming will indeed be around 4.5 degrees Celsius under business-as-usual emissions.

Another is increased farm productivity. Several recent scientific articles show that crop yields will decrease, rather than increase, for most warming scenarios.

Rather than hoping for the best, it would be better for the editor to learn about projected climate change impacts and work toward free-market solutions to the problem.

Leslie Grady Jr.
Harrisonburg

DN-R Muddles Climate Science

Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA) – November 18, 2016

One hundred ninety-three countries, including U.S., China and Russia, have signed the Paris Agreement, a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from the burning of fossil fuels.

Instead of helping educate readers on this important issue, the Daily News-Record has gone out of its way time and time again to misinform them (“To Save a Gas,” Nov. 7).

Research shows that 97 percent of scientists who publish about climate agree that change is real and human-caused, and have stated if we keep to business as usual, Earth is headed for a climate that will not resemble anything we have ever known.

Laura Dansby
Keezletown

Dansby: The planet is at stake, but so is our culture

The Roanoke Times, Monday, October 31, 2016

By Bishop Dansby
Dansby is a retired lawyer, engineer and businessman from Rockingham County.

bishopdansby

Bishop Dansby

Climate change continues to be the greatest challenge of our era and probably in all of human history. At first, our government tried to address the issue with comprehensive energy and greenhouse emissions legislation. Lack of Republican support caused the legislative approach to fail, but in the meantime the Supreme Court made it clear that climate change could be addressed under the existing Clean Air Act, and the Obama administration took a number of strong regulatory actions to address climate change through the Environmental Protection Agency, giving the U.S. the credibility to sign the Paris climate accord. Meanwhile, Republicans, including Donald Trump, are doing all they can to roll back these gains.

There has been relatively little debate in the scientific community on the basics of climate change and our need to reduce the use of fossil fuels for a couple of decades. However, among politicians and the public, there has been continual debate, denial and partisan divide.

While Democrats have generally accepted the conclusions of the scientific community, Republicans have vigorously denied them. The position of Republicans has gone from (1) there is no climate change, to (2) there may be climate change, but it is not man-made, to (3) there is climate change and man may be contributing to it, but there is nothing we can do about it. They have never quite gotten to: There is climate change, man is the cause of it, and we can avoid its catastrophic effects if we take adequate action.

Polls show that Republican voters are more progressive on climate change than Republican politicians, with Republican leadership being the least progressive of all. Valley representatives and residents are reflective of the national picture.

With the action taking place in the EPA and other regulatory agencies, the only legitimate role of state and federal legislators is to stand aside and let the regulatory process go forward. Instead, elected representatives like Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, are doing all they can to frustrate the regulation of greenhouse emissions, whether by litigation, defunding or legislation to stop the EPA and Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality.

No one is denying that climate change is a formidable challenge. Energy is the foundation of our modern economy, and the discovery and development of abundant coal, oil and natural gas has made possible the modern standard of living we take for granted.

Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that as the problem of climate change forces us to develop renewable sources of energy and more energy efficient buildings and vehicles, we will emerge with a higher standard of living than had we stayed with fossils. While we might not have voluntarily chosen to transition off of fossil fuels (at least, not as quickly), the doing so will usher in a new era of cheaper, cleaner energy and a better quality of life.

It should be said in no uncertain terms that political leaders like Goodlatte, who are ignoring the climate-change challenge, are failing us at an historic dimension. Further, the well-educated physician, lawyer or business person who brushes off the climate-change problem is failing us and his or her descendants. This is a failure of ethics, morality and imagination, and it is a failure that will have enormous practical economic consequences. These politicians and citizens may deprive us of the next and necessary era of human prosperity, not to mention depriving our descendants of a livable planet.

Possibly, the world will stumble forward to address climate change without the help of Republicans. Renewable energy is competitive with fossil fuels, so the market can help solve the problem. Thankfully, most of the other major nations do not deny climate change and are moving forward with policies to address it.

Even if we get lucky and the “market” and the policy action of other nations solve the problem, what does this failure by a large part of our government and citizenry say about the nature of the contemporary American culture? Republican politicians and voters need to show some integrity and join the effort to legitimately and honestly address the issues of climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Let us seize this opportunity to a) solve climate change, and b) build a better world.

This editorial is online at Roanoke.com here.