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Californians can steer the world into not being dependent on fossil fuel

Time to move beyond climate change denial; deniers can deny it to their grave. We need to solve the problem. First question to ask: What is the problem? The answer should be obvious to everyone: Burning fossil fuel! It's hard to deny that truth when you grew up with smokestacks spewing smoke and soot, fowling the air causing aching lungs and burning eyes. The Clean Air Act changed that back in the '80s—but the CO2 kept coming.

Clean coal, dirty coal, natural gas—they all produce carbon dioxide when they are burned. It is the byproduct of combustion, which uses oxygen to consume carbon, producing heat and CO2, something cavemen discovered 100,000 years ago. There is enough fossil fuel in the ground today, that, if it were used for fuel, it would consume all the existing oxygen on the planet. Trees don't produce enough new oxygen to overtake our capacity to burn oil, and we are still cutting them down at an alarming rate.

The world now burns oil at a rate of 95 million barrels a day, which is the equliviant of using an Olympic size swimming pool every 15 seconds. Coal demand is going down, but the world still consumes about 25 million tons a day.

So, we know the problem is fossil fuel; the solution is obvious as well: Stop using fossil fuel. That's the tricky part, since the fossil fuel industry runs the world economy.

We need a visionary leader—perhaps the next governor of California—who could decree, on entering office, a Kennedy type visionary statement based on hope and need that the state would be fossil fuel free in five years. Kennedy didn't know how to get to the moon but he knew we could do it if we made it a top priority. Eliminating fossil fuel (with only a few exceptions) would be such a vision. All forms of energy production and transportation will have to be fossil fuel free in five years. We have to do it: Like pulling off the world's biggest Band-Aid. The faster you pull it the better. What will that mean for Mister and Missus California citizen: No more gas-powered cars. Bad as that sounds, it will happen sooner or later, autonomous cars will see to that. It is possible, but we need a massive scientific effort like the Manhattan Project to replace our reliance on fossil fuel, then we need a WWII type effort to mobilize the state, building the infrastructure to support our new all-electric lifestyle.

I am not the guy to say how we will do it, but I know it can be done. It all comes down to money. Good old Yankee ingenuity will make it work because the time is now and the need is here. Do we really have to use every drop of oil on the planet, or, can we, as informed, open-minded human beings, look for a better way? Even if scientists are completely wrong and climate change is a hoax, not using every drop of a finite resource like oil, still makes sense; it will save some supply for some other discovery that will require oil.

Now that the Arctic Ocean is not permanetly frozen, the sea floor is readily available for oil and gas exploration. It is the new frontier. The amount of fossil fuel predicted to be under that floor will guarantee our planet's permanent climate change. Why can't we say no; when will we say no? It has to start somewhere. India has said no more gas-powered cars by 2030. That is a start; automakers see the writing on the wall and are gearing up to go all electric.

The fossil fuel industry has actively worked against discoveries to replace fossil fuel and have spent millions on propaganda against climate change. They intimidate inventors and threaten duress if discoveries are published. Have we entered a new Dark Ages where science threatens the powerful? Are there no inventors left to stand up to the power elite as Columbus and Galileo did against the powerful church? We have to stand up to the powers that be and say, "No more!"

California can change the world when we realize the old saying, "You need to spend money to make money," is true. We have to say no to the fossil fuel industry. Let our scientists invent us into the 21st century. More efficient solar, cheaper safer nuclear, some new idea still on the workbench in an entrepreneur's garage, the idea is out there. If we get fossil fuel out of the way we can create a new non-fossil fuel economy with cheaper cleaner energy providing the planet's energy needs that will never be met by fossil fuel. And California will be the pioneer reaping the profit like we have benefited from Silicon Valley's planet changing technology. Δ

David Deick is hoping against hope for a new economy in Atascadero. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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