My name is Curtis, and I believe that anthropogenic Climate Change is changing our planet in ways that are hurting and killing people, animals, and our environment at large.
But I am not writing this to convince you about Climate Change. Your mind is made up, you have your own sources, and that’s fine.
What I am here to do is tell you why you should consider converting to sustainable sources of power anyway, and why you should push your local government to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy.
My reasoning here is completely separate from the environmental issue. Instead it’s about the future of your local economy, and about social justice, especially for those who live on a limited income in your community.
The economic viability for renewable sources of energy have been in question for decades when compared to fossil fuels. But I am here to tell you that currently, there are many forms of renewable energy that are already cheaper than fossil fuels, and the leaps and bounds in the improvement of efficiency in solar and wind power just over the last decade have been tremendous, continuing at breakneck speed.
If that is true, you might ask, then why are fossil fuels still being pushed so hard? The answer is simple: supply and demand.
Fossil fuels are a limited resource, and the natural supply is dwindling fast. Even as our reserves get smaller, the cost for energy companies to obtain these resources will remain fairly static. Without investment in renewable energy, there is a near-future scenario where the limited supply of these resources will not be met with a decreased demand, keeping the price stable. Instead, the demand will stay the same or increase, while the supply constricts. This means that the price of fuel, oil, natural gas, and coal will start to increase exponentially, and people will be cornered into paying those monopolistic prices because we didn’t make the choice NOW to invest in renewable energy. The fossil fuel industry will reap record profits, and gain even more power than they already have over our government and our paychecks.
Those on a limited income will be hurt first, as they can no longer afford gas for their cars or to heat their homes. Across all income-levels, electric rates will steadily go up, and the choice to switch to renewables will be harder to pursue without the right policies and infrastructure already in place.
When it’s too expensive to transport food and resources to poor rural communities, people will be forced to leave their land in the hopes of surviving somewhere with renewables, crowding already crowded cities as financial refugees. The fossil fuel industries will always need somewhere to dump their waste, and this newly abandoned and devalued land will be the perfect place. Or maybe a wealthy real estate investor will buy it all up and start a new city over the old farmland. Either way, living off the land will no longer be a viable option. For reference, check out rural Louisiana’s current fishing advisories, downriver from the petrochemical plants along the Mississippi River.
Maybe you have already witnessed some of these changes in your community. How much did gas cost per gallon when you were a child? Has your electric bill gone up recently? What about income taxes? Have wages kept up with these price changes in your community?
There is a dirty little secret about the fossil fuel industry. They have spent millions campaigning and lobbying to expand their business, especially in the US. Our politicians on every level have largely caved to the mountains of money being shoved their way. But those energy companies don’t make most of their money through the cost per kilowatt-hour part of your electric bill. That is largely subsidized- by your tax dollars.
Maybe you have read about all the new pipelines crisscrossing our beautiful country, along with all the new power plants being built? Did you know that the energy companies don’t pay for those either? YOU do, in your electric bill. That’s where the rate increases come from- the price to produce and transport the electricity from fossil fuels hasn’t gone up that much, you are paying for those new pipelines and petrochemical plants, plus a nice little profit for the energy companies building them, who then turn around and sell the energy back to you. Or worse, turn around and sell the extra fossil fuels that you helped pay to produce and transport to foreign countries for a profit! All of this while destroying our countryside here in America.
If this doesn’t sit well with you, I will tell you that it doesn’t sit well with me, either. But we can do something about it.
Talk to your community leaders and raise this issue. You can always coordinate with environmental groups- even if you don’t agree with all of their views, they will help you gather information and resources to promote your cause. Talk to community church leaders and your own congregation. Write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper. Go to town hall meetings, and bring your friends!
Putting pressure on politicians is how to get policy changed for you and the people in your community, rather than for corporate interests. The fossil fuel industry doesn’t take days off, there is too much money at stake for them.
But imagine what is at stake for you.
Founder, Lieutenant Planet
To support independent environmental journalism, check out the Lieutenant Planet Support Page and Become a Patron!