Cheryl Hogue presents several reasons why the U.S. is taking little action to prevent climate change in contrast to what we undertook in the 1980s to curb ozone depletion (C&EN, Nov. 21, 2011, page 29).
One reason she presents is that ozone depletion was a present-day personal hazard and climate change is a more distant hazard. I see this as the key to the neglect by both the public and our politicians of an issue of catastrophic magnitude almost certain to be suffered by coming generations.
Despite billions of dollars spent on research and development to seek practical sources of renewable energy, burning fossil fuels remains essential to our economy and to our lifestyles. Even with government subsidies, wind and solar contribute only about 2% to our energy needs. We have increased our energy efficiencies in industries and in personal living, but not enough to meet our increasing energy demands. Therefore, our national annual carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase. Curbing our energy use would be painful to most Americans, but I believe if we thoughtfully viewed the prospects, we would be debating how we can best curb our use of energy in all its forms.
By John Burton