I agree with part of Roger Condit’s May 20 letter, “Let’s use sun’s unlimited energy.” We should rapidly develop more solar, wind, geothermal and tidal energy to replace as much of our fossil fuel dependence as possible, while seeking better ways to do more work with less energy and learn to live with less “stuff.”

However I differ with him on the reasons for it.

Condit seems to think the reason to develop sustainable energy is because we are about to run out of fossil fuels. We have enough coal for many more generations. The reason for clean energy is that if we continue to burn fossil fuels at the present rate, it won’t matter if we run out. Climate disruption will change conditions built up over millions of years to the point that most of us will not be around any more to care if we run out of fuel.

It is not that we may use it all up in the “next few human generations,” while the prices escalate. If we burned all the presently known underground fuels, we would push the world’s temperatures well above the tolerance level of animals, including people, and destroy agriculture needed to feed them. It may take many centuries to recover an environment hospitable to evolving higher forms of plants and animals again.

The reason to convert to sustainable sources of energy, transportation and industry is to save the present forms of life on the planet, not to prepare for the eventual consumption of all fossil fuels available. There will be no one left needing it well before it is all gone.

Harvey Versteeg


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