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Sustainable Energy Movement Belies Climate Change Critics
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As the debate over the reality of climate change rages on in Congress and in the news, the details of a promising series of events are emerging that belie the arguments of climate change critics, who deny the existence of climate change and the negative consequences of inaction to address global warming.
Objective data now available clearly indicates a steady movement towards sustainability practices by many businesses. For instance, recent statistics show that there has been a major shift away from the use of coal and towards natural gas to generate electricity in America. This shift is documented by a major decline in coal transported by railroads. This trend is concerning to railroads because coal is the most important commodity for them, accounting for 43.3 percent of freight railway tonnage and 24.6 percent of gross rail revenue in 2011. It is important to note that the decline in coal transport by rail, for the most part, is directly attributable to electric utilities’ needs “to take advantage of more price-competitive natural gas“. While the production of natural gas does pose issues, particularly with fracking, it is a cleaner source of fuel, releasing fewer global-warming gases, such as carbon dioxide, thereby resulting in a reduction of greenhouse emissions in America. As scientists work to make the fracking procedure safer, natural gas definitely competes against coal as a preferred fuel source.
A look at events going on in Alaska also provides evidence of belief in climate change, a willingness of people to accept its existence and the need to protect the environment. A recent story chronicles Sarah Palin‘s efforts to address the issues of climate change while she was governor of Alaska. Palin’s recognition of global warming and its effect on her state and its citizens led her to establish a climate change sub-cabinet to produce ideas on “how Alaskans can save energy and reduce greenhouse emissions”. During this period prior to her interest in higher political aspirations, Palin was dedicated to find solutions to “protect Alaska’s most at-risk communities“. Now fast forward to today where we find that current Alaska Republican governor, Sean Parnell (previously a lobbyist for oil companies) has quietly dismantled Palin’s Immediate Action Workgroup. As a result, it is noted that there are 12 small indigenous communities on Alaska’s coast that need to relocate because of global warming. Currently in Alaska, the voices are getting louder in support of these displaced communities and in recognition of the reality of global warming and climate change.
A third interesting series of events pointing to acceptance of global warming and the need to seek alternative energy solutions can be seen in the NFL’s increased use of solar energy for stadiums. Of course, we just witnesses the major power failure at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Louisiana. While it may come as a surprise to some people, for the past 18 years the NFL has been pursuing green energy solutions. It recognized long ago that the sheer size of most NFL venues were outpacing the infrastructures, thereby taxing the electrical grids and at some point resulting in power failures. To date, several NFL stadiums are equipped with solar panels, including Gillette Stadium (New England Patriots), MetLife Stadium (NY Jets and NY Giants), FedEx Field (Redskins), and Century Link Field (Seattle Mariners). The company responsible for most of these projects is NRG Solar Company (www.nrgsolar.com). These efforts clearly are indicative of the NFL’s recognition of the importance of solar energy and the role it can play in business today, particularly for industries with very large energy burdens at any particular time.
We here at LGBG feel empowered by the efforts of individuals, businesses and organizations who refuse to be deterred in their efforts to seek solutions to global warming. We know that climate change is a reality. As we enter the weekend, we are posed to witness another reminder of the reality of climate change and global warming by two huge storms coming from the west and the south and expected to result in a major blizzard in the Northeast, which still has not recovered from Sandy. We wish the best for everyone in the path of these storms. They truly are Mother Nature reminding us to live green, be green.
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