CJ is our oldest grandchild. He was born when I was only in my thirties. Many of my friends were still having children of their own and I was a “grandfather.” I didn’t like the word because I remember my grandparents, sitting in a rocking chair, shuffling with a cane, resting from their labors and waiting to die. I wasn’t ready for that but I loved CJ and being a grandparent. You get to enjoy your grandchildren and have fun with them without the responsibilities of being a parent. I even played with CJ on his adult soccer team in a game before my injury.
Lynnda and I took CJ on his first trip to Disney World when he was six. It was magical to see the look on CJ’s face when he met the characters and watch him on the rides. We went with him on rides like Dumbo the Flying Elephant we wouldn’t ride without a child. CJ found a drum and asked if he could have it. I never gave it a thought. “Sure.” I responded. We were busy going to theme parks and swimming pools on the trip, so CJ didn’t get to play the drum much. After we dropped him off at his parents’ home in Virginia Beach, we drove about an hour to Williamsburg when my son, Corey called. I could hear CJ beating the drum in the back ground. “Dad why did you buy CJ that drum?” “Because he wanted it! Why?” “He is driving us crazy.” Corey was a bit of a wild child growing up. I smiled. Maybe, that’s why we never bought Corey and his siblings drums at Disney. What goes around comes around. CJ still calls me “grandfather”. It’s been fun to see him grow up.
CJ and his fiancée had their first child, two weeks ago. A beautiful little girl. Now I’m a young “great-grandfather”. I may just drop the “great”. Lynnda and I have already talked to CJ about her first trip to Disney.
Seeing the 4th generation of our family got me thinking about my responsibilities. Her parents and grandparents will handle the daily needs. What kind of a world will she inherit? We have a say about that. Back in the 1970s it was my generation who was going to change the world. The world has changed hopefully for the better but we still have a lot of problems, many we couldn’t foresee. The environmental movement was born out of necessity in the 1960s. Many rivers were fire hazards. When Mom hung her clothes outside to dry, if the wind changed they were covered with ash from the coal power plant. The air in places like Pittsburgh and Charleston was terrible. We swam in polluted orange colored creeks.
The USA changed because people wanted change. The clean air act is now over 50 years old. According to the EPA, since 1980 carbon monoxide levels are down 81%. Ozone levels are down 30%. Particulate levels have dropped 41% since 2000. CO2 levels are down 20% since 2005. Global CO2 emissions have yet to peak. The air in places like China and India is still bad and impacts us. The orange creeks I swam in are now clean, full of fish and water fowl. The air is noticeably cleaner in places like Pittsburgh and Charleston. There is more to be done.
Much of the easy environmental work in the USA is done. We need to begin to think globally. How can we use what we have learned in the USA to create a cleaner environment and economical energy to help the world? Natural gas can be used to reduce emissions from coal, wood and animal waste in India, China and developing countries. Modern drilling techniques can help us to use more geothermal energy. In Iceland over 70% of the country’s total energy supply comes from geothermal sources. We can use more rooftop solar instead of cutting down forests and covering valuable farmland with solar panels. The challenge from weather dependent energy sources is they are unreliable and we don’t have economical storage. Solar can produce a lot of energy in sunny climates but night comes 100% of the time and back up power is required at a cost that doesn’t get factored in when a project is proposed. Europe is learning this lesson. They are increasing use of coal since their natural gas is limited by Russia and a lack of LNG capacity.
California and New England have electric rates twice what we pay. Our power costs are also increasing. Someone has to pay for the discounted renewable power for Amazon and other companies who claim to be “green”. After dark 100% of their electricity is coming from natural gas, coal or nuclear power. At SelectUSA a young lady complained about her high electricity and natural gas costs in Boston. She didn’t know her utility paid over $100 per MCF for (high carbon footprint) Russian gas to keep the lights and heat on during a cold winter. A pipeline to carry cheap Marcellus and Utica gas can’t be built across New York State. A Federal Law prohibits LNG shipments from U.S. ports.
New proposed EPA regulations will further restrict emissions from U.S. power plants but at what cost? People on fixed incomes, like seniors won’t be able to pay utility and prescription costs. Young people like my grandson trying to raise a family will also be hurt. Federal and state utility subsidies are NOT the answer. They make people government dependent. A form of slavery. Government can always choose to end the subsidy. My great-granddaughter deserves clean air, clean water and economical dependable energy. The USA has the resources. Cost to the consumer needs to be part of any EPA proposal. Leadership can bring manufacturing back to the USA and deliver U.S. environmental successes to the world reducing global emissions.
Greg Kozera/, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.