The true cost of fossil fuel consumption

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A recent letter to the editor claiming “solar can’t cut it” ignores the true cost of our fossil fuel habit.

Over 100 years ago, scientists found ways to measure the amount of energy absorbed by various gases from the energy waves as they passed. We can calculate the amount of solar energy absorbed by the gases that make up our air.

Carbon dioxide is an important absorber and is not only abundant in our air, it is increasing. The increase includes old carbon dioxide, the one that comes from underground, the one that is released from coal and oil, which we burn to produce energy. To get our “cheap” energy, we release carbon dioxide into the air, causing it to absorb more energy from the sun.

Another source of energy absorption comes from the increasing amount of methane, which we are also releasing at very high rates. Methane is six times more efficient at absorbing energy.

Scientists call it “global warming”, defining the danger as a 2.5 degree rise in average temperature. But 2.5 degrees doesn’t bother the average Joe. It’s not the temperature that’s the problem, it’s the huge amount of energy that is stored in our land, soil and water. This is what melts glaciers, eliminates plant and animal species, increases the ferocity and frequency of bad weather, fires, rising oceans. Wind and solar energy infrastructure is expensive to build but inexpensive to operate.

Richard Cichanski

Palatine

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