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Letters: Inaction on climate change is much more costly than making important changes


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The editorial “Industry needs government to step up in battle against climate change” (March 29) rightly states the need for government to step up in our battle against climate change. It even delves into ways to make money in the new environment as we head toward a net-zero economy.

However, the editorial perhaps misses the most important money message about climate change. I maintain that inaction on climate change measures is much more costly than action. The cost mounts up in many ways, including the health of our citizens and livability on our planet, as well as economically for all of us. Each year, tens of thousands of people are hospitalized or prematurely die due to carbon emission particulates in the air. The same consequences happen due to temperature extremes caused by methane and carbon emissions in our atmosphere.

If deaths aren’t costly enough, the affected people are missing work days, thus slowing our economic growth. Another major issue is that our changing climate is causing catastrophic weather to be more frequent and severe. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2022, we had 18 $1 billion-plus weather-related disasters in the U.S. Hurricane Ian had a cost of more than $100 billion alone.

Some politicians try to convince the general public that the climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law were too expensive. I contend that they were rather inexpensive, assuming we want to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. Also, those acts will grow our economy, creating millions of well-paying jobs while also reducing the number of days of work lost due to health and storm-related incidents.

The editorial suggests different investments to look into during our energy transition. I will avoid investment advice but remind young readers of growing job opportunities. Many already know that wind, solar and energy storage sectors are accelerating fast. However, do they realize that electricians will be in short supply and very highly sought after? Imagine all the residences and workplaces that need transition from gas to electricity as we transition the energy economy.

Our future can be bright if our national and local legislators keep us moving forward to clean renewable energy use as soon as is practical and possible.

— Jonathan Light, Laguna Niguel, California

The news story “Nations approve major new UN climate change report” (March 20) hit home for me as a wake-up call to take bold steps to avoid greater global climate catastrophes. Every day brings news of another climate tragedy at home or abroad.

Transitioning to a clean-energy economy will take a full-court press: building more wind, solar and hydroelectric power; electrifying buildings and vehicles; and conserving trees and other natural resources. We also need to look closely at replacing Illinois’ remaining coal-fired power plants with carbon-free nuclear-generated power. Installing a small modular nuclear reactor at the site of a closed fossil-fuel plant carries the advantage of plugging right into the existing electric grid without additional investment or time-consuming permit applications.

More than 50% of Illinois’ electricity already comes from nuclear reactors. More is on the way, thanks to an $800 million infusion of capital by Constellation at the Braidwood plant in Will County and the Byron station in Ogle County. This will add enough capacity to power the equivalent of 100,000 homes every year, and it will be like taking more than 170,000 gasoline-powered cars and trucks off the road.

I’m also encouraged by Illinois Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 1079, measures that would lift the decades-old moratorium on building new nuclear reactors.

If we can clear the way for more nuclear-generated power in Illinois, we’ll tap into a solution that will help meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals that our future life on planet Earth demands.

— Joe Tedino, Chicago

Thank you for a vital editorial about climate change and the need for a better regulatory framework.

An important comment toward the end notes the need for leadership at the state level. With national-level climate leadership in short supply, we need more climate champions (leaders) at state and local levels and in all sectors.

A lack of climate expertise does not need to deter potential climate leaders. What’s needed are more people willing to step into the arena, engage others, learn along the way and persistently ratchet up our climate action.

Here’s another nudge: Aspiring climate leaders can generate more engagement and clout by venturing outside personal and professional silos and crossing “boundaries” to create broader and more diverse collaborations. Conversations are the building blocks of change, most powerfully by reaching out to friends, colleagues and members of other work units, companies, sectors and geographical regions.

Project Drawdown offers lots of ideas for getting started. Every job is a climate job, they say, for making the progress we need.

— Thomas S. Bateman, Rockport, Maine

I did some banking online and read a message from the bank’s chairman and CEO basically stating that individuals need not worry about the safety of their deposits after some customers expressed concerns about the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.

This bank and the vast majority of banks in America are sound. When too many people panic, it results in unnecessary bank runs, which can threaten the stability of financial institutions. It’s similar to the way people panicked during the early stages of the pandemic and emptied the shelves when normal shopping habits would have left plenty of merchandise for everyone.

— Larry Vigon, Chicago

Join the conversation in our Letters to the Editor Facebook group.

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email letters@chicagotribune.com.


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