Editor’s Note — This story has been updated to reflect a comment from AfT.
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By Sandra McDonald, CNN
Almost no single product combines global warming with land-use change quite like coal-fired power plants. It’s the heart of what environmentalists call the global problem of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. So while electric cars and solar panels have won considerable popularity, these two relatively small environmental issues (electric cars and solar panels, respectively) have been dwarfed by the rise of coal and others like it, like the growth of natural gas.
But as of January 1, 2019, that will likely change. That’s when the United States formally will pledge to phase out coal by 2030 as part of the Paris Agreement.
The United States Senate will also ban federal projects that encourage coal mining within the next two years. The statutes specify that such activity won’t be eligible for tax credit grants or loans. In other words, your next electric car won’t use fossil fuels, unless it’s converted to a plug-in hybrid vehicle. And it can’t be gas guzzler, either.
I’m not a fan of giving up coal as an energy source, but I do think something needs to be done to decrease its impact on the environment. It’s not a cure-all, but it does seem more practical for the United States and the world as a whole than continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
But first we have to deal with two entirely different ways of dealing with the problem. In one camp are those that believe climate change is real and only ever going to get worse, the only alternative being to accept how severe global warming is already being and then make very extensive changes to our lifestyles to reverse it.
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But in the other camp are those who dispute that the planet is warming at all and that there is no causal relationship between CO2 emissions and global warming. They believe that world temperatures have flatlined for decades, that there is no real pattern (as if ever there was one) and that we should therefore continue to use fossil fuels while continuing to develop renewable energies.
Although both camps try to advance their positions on an almost daily basis, you would think that there would be some degree of unanimity on this issue — if only to give a sense of some degree of morality to the problem. But this idea is a complete fallacy.
Those that acknowledge the necessity of tackling climate change generally do so because they have seen the effects first hand (as opposed to those that don’t). Environmental activists have personally endured the droughts and floods that climate change has caused; to the extent that they must have their conscience pricked every time they drive by a flooded river or a monsoon.
By contrast, environmental pundits merely have an eye on fossil fuels as an area where the United States is unique, except in terms of its production and reliance on that industry. While both extremes are wildly fanatical in their positions, in fact they represent extremely divergent views on the underlying issue, as President Trump recently demonstrated with his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord.
Read the rest of the story on Business Insider here: