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Demanding Climate Justice in the Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma


Demanding Climate Justice in the Wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Sonali Kolhatkar

As the floodwaters from two devastating back-to-back hurricanes recede in Texas, Puerto Rico, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and several Caribbean islands, it is tempting to think that Mother Nature, supercharged by global warming, has impacted Americans of all races and classes equally.


I find it very interesting how you demand climate justice, because companies make products, yet you consistently buy and use these products. Its interesting how you think that the wealthy class are responsible for continuing fossil fuels, when every single class buys these products. No single person is the largest shareholder in Exxon Mobil stock, you know “who” is? Vanguard- the investment firm, whose largest share of investments are mutual funds. Hundreds of millions of Americans buy a part of Exxon Mobil equity to increase their retirement, yet for some reason you don’t consider this investment to be equally as damaging as a wealthy individual’s investment.

Now if you want to change, what exactly is this solution, since the article makes it appear that we can just stop using fossil fuels and use something, but rather we choose to selfish and ignorant? Let me guess renewables? Renewables are debatable for a reason, because we are not certain of the costs and potential problems we can face when scaling renewable sources up to current fossil fuel amounts. Studies have shown that in some cases we may be massively underestimating the costs of solar and wind. http://www.theenergycollective.com/gail-tverberg/2409208/researchers-underestimating-cost-wind-solar

Studies have shown that there are waste concerns of solar, biomass, and geothermal that have not necessarily been addressed: (solar) https://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/solar/solar-energy-isnt-always-as-green-as-you-think ; (biomass) http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2011/08/18/is-biomass-really-renewable/ ; (geothermal) http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/environmental-impacts-geothermal-energy.html#.WbwL0bpFyhc .

Perhaps even more importantly we are not sure of how to solve the backup storage issue of renewables. This is not to say its impossible, but its extremely misleading to assume we automatically have a solution. https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/ ; https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/ ; https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2012/02/the-alternative-energy-matrix/


I think you make some good points: there’s a lot of blame to go around, and advocates of renewable energy - particularly those who, like McKibben, rarely mention energy frugality - are not telling the whole truth. (See 100 Percent Wishful Thinking: the Green-Energy Cornucopia.)

But when you say “if you want to change,” you fail to acknowledge the ever-crucial distinction between desires and necessities. Given the possibility of continuing on with our luxurious ways, here in the beautiful North, we’d all certainly prefer to. But eventually the intractable Earth will make it perfectly clear to most folks that isn’t possible - not with the planet continually hammering away at us.

So the first part of the solution is helping Earth out with her consciousness-raising, getting across to everyone we know that, while we may not want to change our way of life, we need to - at least, if we remain human enough to love our children. What needs to happen, if it’s possible for human consciousness to embrace it, is that our way of life has to become much more frugal. That’s generally regarded as an impossible sell, so even environmental leaders avoid that truth.


The Rockefeller clan were instrumental in bringing us big oil and big pharma, two blights on humanity. There is a question whether so called oil as a fossil fuel are actually from fossils or a naturally occuring creation of Earth processes.


Ok so we need to change. However, the reason you give as a need to change is that we cannot continue using energy as we are if we hope to have the same standard of life. Part of this need, is to keep the same standard of life; therefore, when we are considering potential solutions on how to get us off of fossil fuels then we also must make sure that these plans take into consideration the cost on society. This cost is a value and not entirely monetary, but can also be evaluated as damaging change of societies who have to alter their way of life. I worry that we are not evaluating all costs not only for “renewable” technology, but for all types of energy production.