Get involved in climate change issue


Undeniably, the energy landscape within Montana and outside our borders is changing rapidly on many fronts. For environmental and market-based reasons, fossil fuels and alternative energy are undergoing significant fluctuations across the country. Deviations from normal have become the rule. Lets look at some facts:

 1. Recent reports by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) makes public America’s increasing hostility toward coal. Currently, at a 30-year low, a 16 percent decrease in coal production is expected for this year alone. Coal-generated electricity has dropped 20 percent this year alone. Due to this lowered demand, no less than three major coal companies have recently undergone bankruptcy and restructuring in the recent past. Those companies include Arch Coal, Peabody Energy and Alpha Natural Resources. Although seven new coal terminals have been proposed for the West Coast in the last five years, not one has opened.

2. In contrast to coal, wind, solar and distributed solar have grown by almost 25 percent this year, according to recent EIA data. Electrical generation by utility scale solar thermal and photo-voltaics grew by more than 30 percent, and electrical generation by utility scale wind grew by more than 23 percent in the first half of 2016.

Wind and solar now provide as much electrical generation as conventional hydropower. 

3. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association disclosed that July 2016 was the 15th record-breaking month in terms of global temperatures as well as the hottest month since record-keeping began. 

In the ’60s and ’70s, our greatest concern was nuclear war between the United States and Russia. Fortunately for everyone, we seemed to have dodged that bullet, for the time being. Today’s mutually assured destruction comes in the form of atmospheric carbon and climate change. Today’s grasp of global warming is no longer debatable among the educated, researchers and scientific community. In fact, those with the greatest knowledge of climate change tell us it is happening at a much faster rate than previously thought. As the American Association for the Advancement of Science reported in 2014, “… pushing global temperatures past certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes that have massively disruptive and large scale impacts.” 

Fortunately, we don’t need to be scientists to diagnose our current energy and climate situation. However, each of us has an obligation to act in such a manner as to protect and benefit all future generations. For the welfare of coming generations, get involved with groups like Northern Plains Resource Council and Citizens Climate Lobby.

Jerry D. Cole