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Coming together to observe Earth Day


Last updated 4/7/2017 at Noon

Passions are burning. Temperatures are rising. Flames threaten to consume us. Come together.

Even with one party in total control of our national government, it seems as though nothing has been decided. No one has been gracious in defeat or victory. Partisans fan the flames in media and at water coolers. It is time to come together.

When Donald Trump won the election last November, analysts claimed his success came from listening to unemployed former middle class workers in manufacturing and mining. Unemployed coal miners in Kentucky wanted jobs so they could provide for their families like they had in the past, even though many of them knew that their mining jobs were tied to an industry on life support.

Ask someone who lives near a coal mine and they will tell you that they don't drink or cook with tap water. Coal mining families also know a neighbor or relative who has died of black lung disease. They thought Trump was listening so for the sake of these families they came together and voted for him.

When President Trump signed the executive order this week to remove pollution regulations on the coal industry he said the act would help make America "rich again."

Industry experts disagreed. An article in the Wall Street Journal identified several energy industry sources that supported claims that President Trump's efforts to revive the coal industry would fail because of lower natural gas prices. Renewable energy becoming cheaper and there is increasing pressure from investors to move financial resources away from the fossil fuel industry.

A 2015 article in Bloomberg reported that employment in the coal mining industry fell from 180,000 jobs in 1985 to less than 80,000 jobs last year. Production, however, peaked in 2008 at 1.17 trillion tons. Most jobs were lost as mining companies have moved from underground mines to open pit mines and the use of automation.

According to a March article by US News& World Report, "Jobs in the solar sector have increased 123 percent since 2010." U.S. wind and solar industries account for more than 300,000 jobs with jobs in the wind energy sector at 90,000 for an increase in 20 percent over 2015.

New technologies like energy storage devices, electric vehicles, smart grid products and energy efficiency products are growing in tandem in terms of job growth and annual revenues. More and more reputable business sources are coming together to herald the growth of investments, jobs, and revenues in the renewable clean energy sector.

Whether we live in coal country or breath the clean air in Mill Creek, two things are clear that should bring us together. As renewable energy continues to get cheaper, more jobs will be created. And everyone will benefit from a healthier environment.

I don't think that people feel rich when they have asthma, emphysemaor other breathing illnesses that are made worse by air pollution. How much money can you spoend when your water supply has unhealthy levels of lead, mercury, or arsenic from mining sites?

We are rapidly approaching a time when we could reach the point of no return. As we continue to consume fossil fuels, we make the planet hotter, which makes it more difficult for farmers to produce healthy food. Our oceans are poisoned. Plant and animal species are dying out at a rate unprecedented during the time of human existence.

We need to come together. We have the tools and the technology. What scientists are telling us is that we don't have a lot of time. We cannot pretend that the problem doesn't exist. We do no service by by following Trump’s orders prohibiting employees at the Department of Energy from using the term "climate change."

We need to come together. The good news is that there are signs tht suggest this can happen. Research from the Yale Program on Climate Communication reported that 69 percent of Americans agree there should be restrictions carbon emissions from coal plants.

A poll in January by Pew Research found that 65 percent of Americans favor clean energy investments over fossil fuels investments. While an overwhelming majority of Democrats agreed, slightly more Republicans also favored clean energy investments over fossil fuels.

Recently 17 Republican members of Congress expressed their belief that climate change is real and that it is the result of human activities. Included were Darrel Issa from California and Dave Reichert from Washington state.

Several well-known Republicans doubters have also proposed a national carbon tax. Included in the group are two former U. S. Secretaries of State, James Baker and George Schultz. Former Walmart Chairman of the Board and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson also represented the group.

In February Bloomberg published an article that quoted Baker on the subject: "A conservative, free-market approach is a very Republican way of approaching the problem."

We need to come together. Saving our environment will save all of us. Failing will doom us all. Let's come together with respect. Let's use facts. Let's work for the benefit of all of us even if it requires sacrifice and less profit.

Be part of the change. Let's all come together in Seattle on the April 22 for the March for Science and in Seattle on April 29 for the People's Climate March.

Celebrate Earth Day everyday.


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