In his March 29 column, Mark Rosenberg suggests that Americans cannot afford to pay for the rapid transition to renewable energy needed to drastically slow the pace of climate change. In fact, we cannot afford not to. We are already paying for climate change. The increasingly frequent and intense wildfires cost Californians nearly $20 billion in 2017, and the mounting tallies from the devastating fires around the state in 2018 are certain to be higher. The Fourth National Climate Assessment released last year estimated that climate change has caused U.S. taxpayers $350 billion dollars over the past decade alone. If we continue with “business as usual”, these costs will skyrocket in coming years due to the increased health costs of heat waves and spreading tropical diseases, rebuilding our water infrastructure to adapt to the declining snowpack, building barriers to prevent flooding of low-lying coastal cities, and myriad other impacts. Investing now to rapidly transition to a more sustainable energy base will save us large sums of money over the long-term. It seems like a sound investment to us.
Mr. Rosenberg also suggests that injecting particles into the air to block sunlight could be a cheap fix to avoid investing in the energy transition. This approach has an estimated cost of $2.25 billion per year for the first 15 years, which is hardly a steal. Moreover, these technologies are far from ready to deploy and come with huge potential risks. For example, the latest in aerosol injection technologies would spew 10,000 salt particles per second from the ocean surface into the atmosphere to block the incoming sunlight, and all that salt has to come back down to Earth at some point. We suspect that like most of us, Mr. Rosenberg would not want salty rain on his car or our croplands.
As the country with 5% of the global population that has produced 27% of the world’s fossil fuel emissions, it is our responsibility to our own children and those across the world to lead the energy transition. And, it is in our economic interest. If we do it right, the money that Mr. Rosenberg is worried about will go into the pockets of American businesses and workers.
Karen Holl, Felton
Michael Loik, Felton