Fighting climate change starts at home. In this region, that includes a million households, tens of thousands of businesses, and many local, state and federal government offices.
Because both Kansas and Missouri rely on coal for so much of their electrical power, it makes good sense for this region to pursue more renewable energy projects and take other actions aimed at reducing harmful emissions from coal-fired plants.
Installing LED light bulbs is a small way for individual homeowners to cut their use of energy and save money. Same thing goes for buying modern heating and cooling systems as well as newer appliances. In recent years the pace of construction of more energy-efficient office buildings has picked up in the area.
Consider last week’s decision by Ford to hire 1,200 new workers at the Claycomo plant to help build the new Transit van. As vehicles go, the Transit is a gas guzzler, rated at 16 miles a gallon for combined city and highway driving. Still, that’s a significant boost from older vans that got around a dozen miles a gallon.
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The focus on better fuel economy in the Transit and, more notably, in small vehicles and in hybrids that get 40 to 50 miles a gallon comes courtesy of this nation’s best decision on battling climate change.
Led by actions supported by President Barack Obama, the United States is on its way to producing a fleet of new vehicles that should average 54.5 miles a gallon by 2025. That achievement would help slash emissions of carbon dioxide from cars, light trucks and vans. It also would reduce motorists’ spending on fuel.
U.S. automakers agreed to dramatically boost fuel efficiency after years of resisting pressure to do so. Ford and General Motors have been hiring again, providing a valuable lesson for all the naysayers who claim that taking action on climate change is a job-killing disaster.
Last week, world leaders including Obama spoke at a United Nations summit, regarding the important decisions ahead for the United States, China, India, Japan and other countries. National governments need to pass laws and set strong guidelines to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as part of a climate change treaty that could be signed as early as 2015.
Despite bullheaded opposition by climate change deniers — including far too many Republican members of Congress — the United States has made progress in recent years on this subject. Americans are becoming more concerned about global warming’s effects on long-term weather patterns that are causing droughts in parts of the country and flooding in others.
Indeed, not doing enough to confront the effects of climate change could lead to economic calamities in the United States and around the globe.
More can be done.
Coal-fired power plants, including those in the Midwest, need to continue to be retrofitted with emission control equipment.
Renewable energy — especially wind power in Kansas — must be encouraged through state and federal mandates.
Stringent federal rules already in place have to be followed in the production of even more energy-efficient appliances.
As leading scientists and government officials accurately note, America has spent a lot of money while achieving a great deal of success in confronting potential environmental disasters such as dirty air and water, the thinning ozone layer and acid rain.
Climate change needs to be added to that list in the next decade or so.