Almanac

Viewpoint - January 29, 2014

Letter: Fossil fuels cast pall on innovation

I thank the Almanac for the Jan. 8 article on the challenges of rising sea levels for San Mateo County and the Bay Area.

Regional, national and global solutions to confronting climate change must rapidly address both mitigation (addressing the causes) and adaptation (addressing the consequences). If we are to rise to the challenge, we must pull all of the rabbits out of the hat in order to confront the climate change that is upon us.

As an entrepreneur working to deliver a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to corn sugar, I spent over a year in due diligence with a large multinational company looking into investment in biological alternatives to fossil fuels. In the end, the economics of "cheap" natural gas sank our deal.

The playing field for fossil fuels is skewed by tax subsidies including military protection services, and dumping the environmental and public health costs into the commons. In addition to derailing renewable energy development, artificially low fossil fuel prices thwart energy efficiency and conservation efforts.

In the face of these challenges, California is simultaneously pursing climate change mitigation via the global warming solutions act (AB32), and inexplicably promoting climate change by permitting hydraulic fracturing with woefully inadequate regulation. Despite the impending drought, we are poised to use and pollute massive amounts of water to enable the "cheap" extraction of natural gas leading directly to release of sufficient methane and carbon dioxide to make it "game over" for the global atmosphere, and those who breathe it.

The Almanac is correct to point out the pressing need to respond to climate change. I strongly urge concerned citizens to press the governor and Legislature to place a moratorium on fracking until all environmental consequences are fully evaluated, and that full cost accounting for fossil fuel use is integrated into economic and policy analyses.

Only in this way can California stimulate conservation, efficiency, renewable energy development, and the jobs they create. The people must lead if we are to rationally address the causes and consequences of climate change.

David Smernoff, Fox Road, Portola Valley

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