It's past time to wake up to the 21st century

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I just finished an interesting book, "The Road to 2015," by J.L. Petersen, written in 1994. It has a number of startlingly accurate predictions. Among numerous other things, it warned that global warming, aggravated by human activities, was our most serious environmental threat. Also, the author posited that we must move away from an oil-based economy and suggested numerous interesting alternatives.

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In the year 2000, federal power was assumed by the enlightened President Bush and his fellow Republicans. In spite of near-total scientific consensus, they insisted then that it was questionable that the climate was changing, and certainly impossible that human activities were a factor. They promptly backed out of the Kyoto accords. Since then, they have done their level best to pump up the oil industry and the vice president's friends at Haliburton.

Recently, the Republicans have begun to acknowledge that the climate is in fact getting warmer. What a remarkably astute conclusion for them to reach. Anyone who has lived in Alaska these last 20 years and either reads or been old enough to be aware of their surroundings during that time doesn't need more evidence to tell them that the climate is getting warmer. Simply look at our local glaciers as they retreat toward the ice field if you are in doubt.

Although the conservative Republicans do not appear to be averse to spending vast amounts of money we don't have, they have spent next to nothing to address what will likely turn out to be one of the most cataclysmic phenomena of the 21st century. It might cost some short-term profits to do so.

I read with pleasure that the mayor and others have recognized the need to examine the impacts of global climate change on Juneau. I would like to put in my request that they not simply plan for the impacts in a reactive-response manner, but rather include a proactive response. What can Juneau do to reduce its dependence on oil and contributions to carbon emissions? While solar power is unlikely to be very useful here, we are blessed with hydro-electric power resources that most places could only dream of, in the form of freshwater downfall and strong tidal action. Perhaps the group can look at how Juneau could convert itself to a clean-power town, and be (mostly) free from its dependence on oil

Chuck Greeson


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