Month 4, Day 12: Time Enough For Lies

I revised the letter I sent to the Boston Globe and sent it off to Time Magazine, which ran the AP story about the Shen Neng 1. Same point, same framing, different phrasing.

The Chinese coal ship foundering on the Great Barrier Reef is not just a sad story about oily birds, or a sea-captain’s dereliction of duty. The disaster off the coast of Australia also warns us to acknowledge the huge hidden costs of so-called “cheap energy.”

The Shen Neng 1 could just as easily be a million cases of black lung disease or the imminent loss of the polar ice cap, for these tragedies are all consequences of our addiction to fossil fuels. If we are to survive and prosper in the coming centuries, we must acknowledge the truth: oil and coal are only “cheap” when we ignore their health, ecological, and environmental costs. Any realistic energy policy must include these factors; to disregard them is to perpetuate a lie — and with catastrophic climate change looming on the horizon, lies about “cheap energy” are a luxury we can no longer afford.

Warren Senders

Month 4, Day 5: Sticker Shock

This is, plain and simple, horrible news.

I wrote the following letter to the Boston Globe.

While the Shen Neng disaster is tragic enough for its implications to the world’s largest coral reef and its unique ecosystems, it is also a warning: we need to understand the huge hidden costs of so-called “cheap energy.”

The Chinese coal ship could just as well be a picture of miners with black-lung disease, or a Tennessee village destroyed by a broken coal ash dam, for these tragedies are undeniable costs of the coal we burn. It could just as well be the loss of the polar ice cap, or the terribly devastating storms triggered by global climate change, for these are unacknowledged costs of our addiction to oil. Until our economic models include these factors in the price of our energy (along with the expensive wars we wage to protect our sources), we will be living obliviously and unsustainably. With catastrophic climate change looming on the horizon, it seems clear that our fossil-fueled paradise will soon be going the way of the dinosaurs.

Warren Senders