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Climate Change Politics

As I write this, palm trees and the blue Caribbean are in view. There is also a brand-new condo development being built which is about 20 yards from the crashing surf.

Yes, we are in Mexico; but the same could be happening in Florida or the Carolinas. If you are on the beach, develop it! Local governments, especially, like the income from new and larger property tax levies.

Coincidentally, I recently read about the chance of an ice sheet the size of Texas, breaking off from Antarctica and possibly resulting in a 1-foot increase in sea level rise as it melts. Goodbye beachfront condos in Mexico, Florida or the Carolinas. I think I will keep my real estate on Chautauqua Lake–1300 feet above sea level.

What all of this exemplifies is that something like climate change, which is global in nature, is hard to address politically at any level–local, state, national or international. At the last major climate conference, big air polluters like India and China said they would try to tackle carbon dioxide emissions, yet they keep opening up more coal plants to produce electricity.

New York state’s answer to climate change has been to stop natural gas drilling in the State and now the Governor is even declining to build natural gas pipelines. In response, he has been pushing off-shore wind generation, which sounds good, but, of course, the wealthy residents of the Hamptons on Long Island don’t want to see the wind mills nor do they want an electric transmission cable built near their mansions. So, it is hard to guess when, if ever, these windmill farms will be built.

Years ago, the former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, wrote a book titled “All Politics in Local.” That is still true today. State and National political leaders can pontificate all they want to about climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but, in the end, it will be local, parochial politics which will prevail.

I expect that before it is all over, the budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will probably quadruple, and congressmen from low-lying areas will be having the U.S. government build berms and sea walls covering the whole country.

Even if we do (as we have) continue to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in this country, there is no way we can stop other nations who are trying to build their electrical systems from putting more of it into the air.

About 25% of our recent reduction in such pollutants in this country is due to the fact that coal plants have been converted to natural gas. But, the purists in the environmental movement will never acknowledge this and the thing they want to do now is to totally stop natural gas-generated electric power. (Say another “good-bye” to our BPU plant in Jamestown.)

Then where will we be? Probably plagued with electrical power interruptions as wind and solar won’t be able to keep up with power demand just at the time more electric-only cars are coming online. But don’t worry. This is the good old USA and somehow between common sense, politics and the Army Corps of Engineers… we will muddle our way through!

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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