Writer takes issue with climate op-ed

Dear Editor,

In your Sept. 20, 2017, issue you published an op-ed, “Vermont’s greenhouse gas mandate: numbers don’t add up” by Jonathan Lesser. In this article, which was also published in at least four other Vermont publications, he argues that Vermont’s greenhouse gas reduction mandate of 90 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050 is unfeasible and “will impose additional costs on residents and businesses with zero offsetting benefits.” His argument is not surprising considering that Lesser’s work, according to his own LinkedIn profile, is providing “economic, regulatory, and expert witness services to clients in the [sic] energy industry” (linkedin.com/in/jonathanlesser/) and, according to his CV, has served many clients in the fossil fuel industry (continentalecon.com/CE%20Jonathan%20Lesser_March%202014.pdf).

Benefits to Vermont would be immense, including less frequent and severe weather (remember Tropical Storm Irene?), cleaner air and less respiratory health problems, preventing sea level rise which would move hundreds of thousands of our New England neighbors off the coast where they would be climate refugees moving into our backyard, prevent higher rates of species extinction, and the creation of more jobs that contribute to a better world for all of us. This isn’t to mention some of the more scary consequences of climate change, including disappearing glaciers in the Himalayas leading to massive food shortages in south Asia, resulting in famine, wars over resources, and a refugee crisis the likes of which the world has never seen before.

But Lesser argues that “reducing Vermont’s two-hours’ worth of world CO2 emissions will have no measurable impact on world climate.” Vermont is so little, he argues, that we can’t make an impact and shouldn’t even try, so let’s press on the gas pedal even more so we can fly off the cliff sooner! But he has forgotten that Vermont is not the only state or country that has pledged to reduce their emissions. In fact, 195 nations around the world agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Paris in 2015, and together with nearly every nation on the planet we can make a real impact and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Vermont, just like every other state or country, has contributed to polluting the commons of the atmosphere and we all have an obligation to clean it up. The benefits to doing so are no lesser than maintaining a livable and beautiful Vermont and world for our children and all generations to come.

Keane Southard

Walpole, N.H.

 

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