The governor’s declaration that the sale in California of new fossil fuel powered vehicles would end in 15 years has been met with much fear and loathing including much ideologically motivated misunderstanding. Much of that is coming from sectors that depend on the economic support of fossil fuel extraction, production and distribution, and those who take comfort in the notions and practices of the past. But now the chickens have come home to roost and, indeed, roost with a vengeance.
In the progress of civilization from the advent of steam power in the 1830s to the introduction of the private automobile in the 1880s all were met with resistance. Then arguments included notions that speed would cause nosebleeds to various emerging technologies weren’t “Scriptural.” This even included the development of radio and the telephone, the latter faced resistance from some like today’s technophobes who refuse to use cell phones or computers.
What many have failed to notice is the direction leading manufacturers in the auto industry itself is now taking. For the last 10 years the industry has been preparing a transition from fossil fueled vehicles to electric, including hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles. Volvo Cars, as one example, has committed to putting one million electrified cars on the road by 2025. Tesla, a rare newcomer to the automobile industry, has long been a leading producer of high quality, highly desirable electric vehicles. Battery technology itself is improving on a daily basis. Infrastructure for facilitating public charging is increasing and building codes now require installation of a electric vehicle charging junction box in new residential construction.
Ideological notions aside, this speaks to the future of private transportation and the inevitable transition away from dependence on sources of carbon pollution. This matter is one that must be addressed in the realm of science, not ideology, politics and fear.
In addressing science, we should not give credence to that tiny handful of scientists who have tossed their professional integrity for a payday from such ideological lobbyists as the so-called Heartlands Institute, who insult their credentials by affirming the notions of those who deny the facts of climate science.
We now face new and different economic challenges. Evidence provided by sound research from our leading scientific institutions, including NASA and NOAA, demonstrate a clear connection between atmospheric carbon buildup, a warming Earth and its long predicted increasingly violent weather. Denial of our changing climate and its causes is, as Dan Rather put it, “willful ignorance.” Such denial and claims that climate change, its causes and effects, are a hoax insults the professional integrity of our leading scientific institutions.
With major oil producing regions in the world, including Kern County, the desire to protect the status quo is compelling. No one likes disruption. Yet, the need to take the next step in progress is also compelling.
Like jobs in the oil patch, sustainable carbon free energy won’t happen without employees. When it comes to facing the realities of the effects of carbon based energy, in making such changes, we can either be leaders running ahead of the curve or be dragged kicking and screaming behind the curve pretending that change and the need for change isn’t happening. The choice is ours. The results are real.
Stephen Montgomery is the chair of the Kern-Kaweah Chapter Sierra Club. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org