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Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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P. Jay Fleisher

FLEISHER: No Future For Plastics

Letter From P. JAY FLEISHER

No Future For Plastics

To the Editor:

Every few weeks I wait with wonder, “what flavor cool-aid is he drinking now?” And, sure enough, Mike Zagata brought me up to date. Last week’s column told me just how far out of touch he is on virtually all matters related to science.

His latest entry (“Better Living Through Plastics”) touts the virtues of plastic and the petroleum industry that provides it, and wouldn’t you know this month’s edition of Consumer’s Report contains detailed coverage of the problems/hazards plastics pose for the global society. All of which is founded in solid science.

Get with the program, Mike. Plastics are a thing of the past – like telephone booths and black & white television. We are heading into a new age, one free of plastics and free of the oil and gas industry they depend on.

Plastic bottles hold everything from water to mustard, all frozen food packaging, the micro chips in your computer, the fenders on your car – they sure are convenient but they also endanger our health, our environment and are deadly to marine organisms.

Right now there are three permanently floating islands in the Pacific so big they can be seen from outer space – all made entirely of plastic trash, the same trash that endangers marine life. In fact, micro particles of plastic has been found in sediment at the bottom of the ocean, as well in some foods we eat.

It’s pretty simple – plastic is bad for the living environment – like the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

John Muir’s birthday was two weeks ago. He was the guy who, 100 years ago, taught us that it is impossible to touch anything without touching everything – within Earth’s environment everything is connected.

Having attended hundreds of science conferences at which new, creative and imaginative concepts are introduced and ultimately peer reviewed for publication, I am confident that science, if unimpeded by political bias, will lead to a brighter, healthier and innovative future.

I trust science and imaginative engineering to replace jet fuel with something equally volatile – a fuel that will allow us to end our dependency on the oil industry, yet support airline travel in the future. It’s coming Mike, along with electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels.

Our grandchildren’s grandchildren will look back on the current society as primitive and wonder how we could possibly have claimed intelligence, yet ignore the ongoing biggest global hazard – the biggest hazard of all – man’s contribution to climate change.

P. JAY FLEISHER
Geologist
Oneonta

 

FLEISHER: Trust Science On Climate Change
LETTER from P. JAY FLEISHER

Trust Science On

Climate Change

To the Editor:

Science reveals the truth about many things and can be trusted. It explains things we take for granted, such as why the seasons change, why flowers blossom in the spring and leaves fall at the end of summer, and even why water runs downhill. Indeed, science explains much of what we see in our daily surroundings – it can be trusted.

We tend to take it for granted because they are within our normal daily realm. All of these are obvious parts of the “balance of nature.” Within the science community this is what is known as “systems in equilibrium,” where everything depends on everything else to stay balanced. When the balance is upset, the system reacts and adjusts to the change. That’s how science works and a balance is maintained.

The same can be said of polluting the atmosphere.

Because our global society pumps pollutants into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, the atmosphere adjusts, which is what contributes to the documented trend of rapid climate warming currently in progress. These changes involve forces of energy that we are just beginning to understand and are difficult to accurately gauge, such as how a warming climate influences ocean temperatures and the well documented currents that move through the oceans like a conveyor belt.

To complicate matters, the non-scientist may hear different opinions from different science sources.

What is the lay-person to do – who to believe? One obvious tipoff is that scientists who accepted funding from energy companies are much more likely to offer an opinion less objective than others. This is certainly the case for scientists who deny any anthropomorphic influence on climate change. Once again, money talks.

I think we are beyond our ability to completely stop what has already been initiated, but it can be altered. To change the energy momentum of the atmosphere and oceans will require centuries, not decades.

That’s how long it will take to stop or reverse the warming in progress.

However, if we don’t try to reduce the warming the outcome will apply even greater stress on the global society. We must try even if our efforts appear ineffective to start. We all recognize areas impacted by extended draughts, excessive heat waves, more intense storms and the incessant upward creep of sea level.

All of which are examples of the “system” adjusting to climate change. The system is the environment we live in and experience every day.

All of this is within the realm of science. So, why then are elected officials, including the White House ignoring science? If they would acknowledge science and dwell less on satisfying big money donors, our local and global society would benefit. Without responsible leadership there is little hope to reduce the devastating effects within the foreseeable future.

Let’s face it. There will never be a time when fossil fuels won’t be an essential energy source. After all, airplanes will never be powered by “green energy.” No serious scientist thinks our global society will ever stop using some fossil fuels. But, that’s not the point. We should be working toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by vigorously developing alternate energy sources now. I doubt if anyone seriously thinks Green Energy will replace all other resources.

Climate change, along with all of its ramifications (and there are many) is causing serious stress within our global society. We can trust science to reduce the impact of these stresses and help find solutions to protect and preserve the quality of our living environment. This is the time of year to be thankful for our blessings, including reliable science.

P. JAY FLEISHER
A concerned scientist
Town of Milford

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