Letter: There’s a Hidden Cost of Fossil Fuels
To the Editor:
Clean air is essential to life and good health. Several dangerous pollutants are produced by fossil fuel combustion:
Carbon monoxide (CO). An odorless, colorless, and poisonous gas formed by the combustion of fossil fuels, primarily from cars and trucks. CO blocks oxygen from the brain, heart, and vital organs. Fetuses, newborn children and people with chronic illnesses are the most susceptible.
Hazardous air pollutants have been linked to birth defects, cancer, and other serious illnesses. Estimates are that the air toxics emitted from cars and trucks – which include Benzene, acetaldehyde, and butadiene – account for half of all cancers caused by air pollution. Heavy metals such as arsenic from coal combustion have led to fish consumption advisories for nearly every inland water body in Wisconsin.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2). Power plants and motor vehicles create this by burning sulfur containing fuels. SO2 can react in the atmosphere to form fine particles and poses the largest risk to young children and asthmatics. SO2 are constituents of acid rain. It accumulates in lakes and rivers which become too acidic to support life. Acid rain affects crops and buildings.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx). These pollutants cause lung irritation and weaken the body’s defenses against respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza. NO2 appear as yellowish –brown clouds over cities and highways.
Particulate matter (PM). These particles of soot and metals give smog its murky color. These fine particles pose serious threats, deeply penetrating the lungs. Diesel exhaust is a major contributor to particulate matter pollution.
These health costs are not included in consumer utility bills, nor are they paid by the companies that produce or sell the energy, society as a whole pays for them. Our pricing system masks the true costs of fossil fuels and results in damage to human health, the environment, and the economy. Let’s put a fee on carbon pollution that is equivalent to the degree at which it is harming people and forcing other people to pay for them (taxpayers). And in exchange let’s reduce the tax burden on things we want more of. Like jobs and income!
If you are concerned about your health and the health of your children, write your legislator in support of carbon fee and dividend, visit citizensclimatelobby.org. Learn more about energy conservation, renewable energy and local action groups.
Bill Seybold, Plover