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By Joel Huberman



When I知 out walking, I frequently notice that birds in front of me respond unintelligently to my advance. Instead of flying to the side or flying behind me, they fly a bit further ahead, with the inevitable result that within a few seconds I知 once more alarmingly close to them. Instead of learning from their first mistake, they again fly on ahead, repeating the same behavior over and over again.

We human beings sometimes behave as stupidly as birds. We sense an approaching danger, but we don稚 respond effectively. We try to take the familiar way out, even if it doesn稚 prove effective. And we do it over and over again.

Fortunately, unlike birds, we have a powerful tool, science, that can show us effective escape routes.

Science is now pointing to an alarmingly close danger global climate disruption that has the potential to make the Earth as hot as in the age of dinosaurs, when warm-blooded mammals larger than rats did not survive.

Science is clear and unambiguous regarding the cause of this problem: human emissions of greenhouse gases as a consequence of burning fossil fuels. These gases make our Earth heat up, just like a greenhouse. And just as greenhouse heat can become unpleasant, a hotter planet can indeed, will, if we don稚 do something about produce an environment unfit for human beings and for most other life.

How can we avoid this approaching catastrophe? Stop burning fossil fuels.

釘ut, I hear you saying, 努e can稚 do that. Our economy and way of life depend on fossil fuels. Fortunately, science and human inventiveness have already provided a solution energy from renewable resources solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass and biogas.

In deciding whether to permit hydrofracking (a process for recovering natural gas from difficult locations) in New York State, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said, 鏑et痴 make the decision on the facts. Let the science dictate the conclusion. The facts and the science are clear: to avoid catastrophic climate disruption, we must stop burning fossil fuels. Whether hydrofracking can be conducted safely and responsibly is not relevant; natural gas is a fossil fuel, and it should be left in the ground.

Fortunately, leaving fossil fuels in the ground need not create an energy shortage. Feed-in-tariffs (fair prices for renewable energy fed into the grid) have been demonstrated worldwide to stimulate rapid development of renewable energy and large new business investments and robust job growth. Thus, feed-in-tariffs could cure our economic as well as our climate problems.

The science is clear. Let痴 hope Cuomo and other decision-makers will follow the guidelines of science to avoid climate disruption, instead of repeating the mistakes of the past over and over again in bird-brained fashion.





Joel Huberman is a retired scientist and a member of the Energy Committee of the Niagara Group of the Sierra Club.