Mitigating change

By Tim Plouff

A fall day 30-plus years ago, my elderly neighbor announced that it was “my turn to run the road” and prepare for the inevitable expansion of our rural, lakefront roadway. At the time, only four families lived year-round here at our slice of heaven at Beech Hill Pond, and we handled everything thrown our way.

Yet change came quickly. More heavy traffic arrived as building projects rapidly expanded. Weather, a constant, unleashed unexpected activity requiring larger culverts, more gravel, more ditching as well as a plan to protect the sensitive lake ecology. We formed a road association to manage our asset, but also to control roadwork, summer and winter, so user expectations were realized for unimpeded travel. The year-round users total quickly jumped to eight, and now rests at more than half of property owners staying all 12 months.

When the Ice Storm of 1998 severed our electrical connection to the world, for 12 days, we could still get out our road — even if it took hours of chainsaw work every day. When Bangor Hydro arrived to run a whole new series of poles and electrical service to the 25 properties on our road, replacing the decrepit cedar sticks that once served us, there was a good foundation for the trucks to travel on.

Proper planning and preparing for avoiding what issues had once created concern, in effect mitigating change, helped create a better road able to handle more traffic, more people, more weather.

Currently, our environmental alarmists predict that our coastal communities will soon be underwater, that the world will be too hot for us to survive and millions of people will succumb to unexpected weather extremes. They claim that they can control the climate, that they can turn the thermostat back (who picks what temperature?) and all that they need is your money. All of your money. If only we spend enough, they can fix climate change.

OK, a certain amount of hyperbole here, but for those billions of people in parts of the world that don’t yet have reliable electricity at all, or even safe drinking water, they might want affordable and efficient energy before the economic burdens “negotiated” by the green globalists reduces them to decades more of depravity.

Everyday Americans rank climate change, or as the current President describes it as the “climate crisis,” as the 10th most concerning event in their lives, according to the Pew Research Center, below economic inequality and unemployment. Perhaps because mankind has proven quite adept at mitigating whatever crises confront us, or are Americans just weary of being preached at about something where they witness so much hypocrisy from the lecturers?

New Orleans, a city sited below sea level, suffered power outages from Hurricane Ida recently, but little of the flooding damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the city was virtually underwater. New dikes and water control systems mitigated the flood waters from the mighty Mississippi as well as the storm surge, leaving the city intact.

New York City no longer barges its trash into the Atlantic Ocean, taking most to waste-to-energy plants that help mitigate the pollution of one of our last frontiers.

And in Maine, we no longer overwhelm our landfills with beverage containers and plastic straws.

According to the International Energy Agency, the United States has seen the largest emissions reduction in history over the last 10 years — beating every other nation that signed the Paris Climate Accord in 2015. Since 2000, the U.S. has reduced emissions 17 percent, while increasing energy output a whopping 38 percent, with an incredible 14 percent energy increase in the six years leading up to November 2020. Their data indicates that 800 million tons of CO2 emissions were reduced primarily due to the enormous success of fracking for natural gas and propane in the United States.

Never mind the hundreds of thousands of high-paying energy sector jobs that this energy windfall produced, but America’s fracking mitigated the 8 percent increase in emissions recorded by China, (where new coal plants are necessary to construct all of the solar panels that Americans are erecting) while vastly exceeding every other nation’s reduction efforts that signed the Paris Climate Accord — despite their heated rhetoric. Our withdrawal from the agreement in 2017 apparently didn’t change our efforts to improve emissions and provide affordable energy.

Natural gas (and to a lesser degree, propane) is the “bridge fuel” for not only our economy, but for the dozens of countries seeking economic parity. Let’s hope the globalists consider facts before overheated emotions so we can truly mitigate emissions around the globe.

Tim Plouff of Otis is retired from a 30-year career in the energy sector. He writes The Ellsworth American’s weekly auto review column.

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