At a time when prominent public officials often ignore science and dismiss politically inconvenient facts as “fake news,” the catastrophic consequences of such willful ignorance must be honestly acknowledged.
COVID-19 aside, two examples in America’s energy policy are noteworthy, each causing precarious environmental harms.
First is the blatantly false notion that fossil-fuel fracking should be condoned. Fracking is not only the most environmentally destructive method for extracting oil and gas. It is also the most expensive – subsidized by both taxpayers and “cheaper” methods of producing oil and gas [while fossil-fuel prices exclude environmental impacts.]
As widely documented, fracking poisons water supplies, makes residential plumbing systems flammable, and causes highly destructive earthquakes. Multiple scientific studies link the toxic chemicals used by fracking operations to serious human-health threats.
The second example is burning wood and other organic materials for heat. Driven by the misclassification of such fuels as “renewable,” wood-pellets have become a major export for timber companies. Yet, reputable studies conclude that burning wood produces more pollution, including heat-trapping greenhouse gases, than coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of Southeast timberland have been clear-cut to produce millions of tons of pellets. Clear-cutting erodes soil, threatening humans and wildlife with contaminated rivers and streams, and the loss of trees sacrifices their vital carbon-storing benefits – further accelerating the disastrous overheating of Earth’s climate.
Ignoring facts has become increasingly self-destructive. Until the consequences of our actions are reflected in public policy, essential global life-support systems will continue being irreversibly endangered.
David Kyler, Co-Director
Center for a
Saint Simons Island,