Cutting emissions has positive effects beyond saving the world
Guest column

Cutting emissions has positive effects beyond saving the world

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The Missoulian Territory section “Ramping up the urgency” (March 15) was timely regarding the negative consequences of global warming. But, for discussion purposes, suppose the climate change deniers are correct and human-induced climate change (which most scientists agree upon), is not true. Wouldn’t we have a healthier and better world by cutting emissions of CO2, methane, etc., anyway? Positive ramifications include better urban air quality — consequently, so would world health, and in places like China, India, Mexico City, air quality improvement would be striking!

Reducing fossil fuel emissions may slow rising sea level (which affect coastal cities) resulting in less land loss, even if the number and severity of storms do not change. These effects could save lives, property and money. Fossil fuels are necessary, however, for the chemical industry, but we need to use them carefully. By using less fossil fuels we can extend their “lives” for the petrochemical industry. This would occur as we transition into renewable energy sources for a world that will increase to over 11 billion people in just a few years.

In addition, we must educate ourselves about the various temperature-lowering scenarios which are plausible. For example, a Seattle Times Business article (Oct. 20, 2019) touted aluminum as a replacement for ocean-polluting, fish-eating plastic bottles. While this may sound reasonable, nowhere in the article was the excessive amount of energy needed, or gases emitted for this transition from plastic to aluminum ever mentioned. Preliminary analyses show one uses about twice the amount of electricity to make an aluminum bottle compared to manufacturing a plastic one.

Finally, suppose the climate change scientists are correct, but we continue to expand our consumption of fossil fuels anyway. Not only will current world pollution problems worsen, we will exhaust our oil and gas resources sooner. Are we willing to save the Earth from ourselves?

Ian Lange is a retired University of Montana professor. He lives in Missoula. 

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