Nancy Oden

Op-ed


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JUST & POSITIVE ALTERNATIVES:
Climate Change: What Can We Do?

by Nancy Oden

An international Climate Change conference is going on in Montreal this week; USA representatives are refusing to agree with anything that might hurt the oil and other dirty industries' profits, despite looming environmental disasters.

Burning fossil fuels, primarily oil and coal and their derivatives, creates gases that trap the sun's heat. The only way to stop the warming is to severely cut back on burning fossil fuels. There is no other way.

Some damage to Earth's weather systems has already occurred and some is irreversible. However, there are a number of steps we can take which can, if put into practice now, stabilize greenhouse gases, enhance energy security, and eliminate energy poverty.

According to a recent Pentagon study, ice is rapidly melting from the polar ice caps due to the warming and, if enough ice melts, the Gulf Stream, on which we depend to keep our climate comfortable, will be disrupted by the cold meltwater.

If this happens, the Pentagon warns, year-round temperatures would immediately drop, perhaps as much as 20-40 degrees, in Europe, eastern Canada, and the Northeastern USA.

Soon thereafter, affected areas would begin a long sojourn into an Ice Age, as the previous winter's snow and ice would not all melt during the cool summers. This would mean inability to grow crops or gather enough fuel to keep ourselves warm, causing great social disruption.

The Pentagon is involved because they want to be prepared to control access to food, water, and energy when/if panic strikes. Not a world most of us would want to see.

Clearly, we need to work to protect ourselves, starting now.

If elected Maine Senator next year, I will work for the following, creating thousands of good, secure livelihoods.

  1. Stop trying to turn night into day, thus saving energy and taxpayer money. Replace ordinary street lamps and security lights with solar-cell-powered motion-sensor lights.
     
  2. Plant millions of trees. Trees slow fierce winds, absorb greenhouse gases, slow flooding from excessive rains, provide habitat for wildlife, provide firewood and building materials, protect us from summer heat lessening need for air conditioning, absorb pollution from vehicles, and grow food (nuts and fruits) for us and wildlife.
     
  3. Avoid plastic products whenever possible, substituting natural materials: glass, wood, clay, paper, industrial hemp, cotton, etc.
     
    Manufacturing plastic requires toxic chemicals plus oil. Plastics are toxic to the earth and its creatures, as well as wasteful of oil.
     
  4. Stop use of pesticides and other petro-chemicals since their use poisons us and other creatures, as well as using up oil. There are many non-toxic alternatives. (See www.getipm.com)
     
  5. Give public recognition to those who conserve energy. For example, give prizes to the most beautiful Christmas displays using the least amount of electricity.
     
  6. Reward those who conserve by giving them the lowest energy rates, and charge the highest rates to those who use the most. This should lead to innovative ways to conserve energy.
     
  7. Build regional electric generators around Maine, using combinations of wind, solar, tidal, and small hydro, so that we can be energy-independent and disconnect Maine from NEPOOL (New England Power Pool). Maine produces 35 percent more electricity than we use, which now goes into NEPOOL so the cities can leave their lights on all night.We will stop the importation of out-of-state garbage. These often poisonous materials are burned in Maine incinerators to make electricity (not for us), and the resultant toxic ash is dumped here. Burning garbage is wasteful of natural resources which should be re-used or recycled.Each region of Maine should have their own independent, clean power generators, connected to one another for emergencies. Thus, Maine supplies Maine's electricity, while other states do the same.
     
  8. Some of this can be paid for by ending corporate subsidies except for Maine-based small businesses.
     
  9. We can grow much of our own food in Maine, saving oil now wasted by shipping food thousands of miles. Why are we eating beet greens from Peru when we can grow them better here? We will help people build attached greenhouses for home heat and for food production year around. This will create many jobs as well as add greatly to our food security.
     
  10. Create cheap, convenient public transportation systems, which means trains and clean-fuel buses, so Mainers don't have to use gasoline-burning personal vehicles so often.
     
  11. Tax vehicles which get poor gasoline mileage. No taxes on vehicles which get better than 40mpg. Institute energy-saving vehicle and building standards.
     
  12. Retrofit government buildings with combinations of solar and wind energy to save taxpayers' money, then start helping (with direct subsidies, not tax rebates) people install clean energy devices on their homes, as well as small businesses.

And much more.

Waste Not, Want Not.

No need to live in fear or, worse, ignore the reality. We can do this. It will take some effort over time, but do it we must.

On my website, www.cleanearth.net, I have suggestions for personal energy savings.

I will bring the real issues to the debates; we can wait no longer to prepare for the times ahead.

If elected, I will bring in people from all political parties and regions of Maine to solve the weighty problems of our day. I'm confident that we can adjust to our new realities, and live productive, satisfying, and secure lives.


Nancy Oden lives in Jonesboro, phone 497-5727, e-mail , website www.cleanearth.net.

Do right, and risk consequences.
— Sam Houston
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