Let’s base energy policy on facts

I read Richard Smith’s opinion piece in last week’s Marblehead Weekly News (Dec. 22) and just couldn’t stop scratching my head.

Every major study, from intergovernmental and independent research institutions around the world, has proven that our climate crisis is being caused by human behavior. Many of these destructive behaviors are directly related to the mining, transportation, and burning of fossil fuels.

However, if maintaining a high carbon “lifestyle” is the framing through which you judge facts and actions, then of course you will support the ongoing use of fossil fuels, the future be damned.

I prefer a framing that envisions a stable climate future for my children and grandchildren. Within this framing there is no place for fossil fuels.

Mr. Smith raises some good points and ironies. Batteries do require an enormous amount of precious metals that are too often mined at the cost of indigenous lands and the people living on them. 

Electric vehicles require a great deal of imbedded carbon. Wind turbines and solar arrays also require natural resources. This is the reality of the situation in which we find ourselves.

The only thing that does not have negative environmental consequences is conservation. Our Light Department knows this, which is why they are instituting time-of-use (TOU) plans for their residential customers.

In a standard electricity plan, you pay the same rate for your electricity regardless of the time of day. However, with TOU plans, the rate you pay for electricity depends on the time energy is drawn from the grid.

If you use energy whenever you want it, you will pay more than folks who use their major appliance in off-peak hours when the cost of energy is lower. This is an incentive to conserve. 

Light departments are also offering access to home energy audits that help folks tighten their building envelope, and thus require less resources for heating and cooling. 

In addition, energy efficient heat pumps and electric vehicles are now enjoying larger subsidies through both local light departments and government grants from the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress. Finally, scientists are working on and close to divining a technique for recycling of lithium.

You are right, Mr. Smith, we don’t understand completely where we are going, but we do understand that the lifestyle we have enjoyed is not sustainable. 

If we want a planet that continues to support life, we have no choice but to move from the high carbon lifestyle you praise to a new, clean energy future.

Judith Black

Prospect Street