The Post’s editorial series on climate change made valid and important points [“A climate for change,” Aug. 25 through Aug. 29]. In particular: The problem is real, important and urgent. And applying the principles of Economics 101 is an effective and efficient response — if only politics didn’t get in the way. But the series did a disservice by reinforcing the widespread but wrong perception that the source of the problem is carbon dioxide emissions and that alone. In fact, there are other greenhouse gases. Most important is methane, many times more potent in trapping heat than carbon, especially in the relatively short term. Releases of methane in the course of mining, transporting and burning gas and in raising livestock is a huge global problem, so much so that switching from coal and oil to gas may be of very little benefit from a climate change perspective.
We need to be moving to non-fossil fuels, and we need to be doing it now.
Russell Misheloff, Washington
I appreciated that the Aug. 27 editorial “Mr. Obama’s rules on climate” accurately noted the significant health benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.
Too often, the effect on health of climate is left out of the conversation. Yet the message from the health community is clear: Climate change threatens people with air pollution, increased allergens, extreme weather and wildfires.
Nearly half of the U.S. population lives in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, according to a report by the American Lung Association, and this number is growing. Even with the steps that are in place to reduce these life-threatening pollutants, evidence warns that changes in climate are likely to increase the risk of unhealthy levels in the future in large parts of the country.
While there’s more to be done, the standards proposed by the EPA are a very necessary first step to curbing climate change and protecting public health.
Paul G. Billings, Washington
The writer is a senior vice president for the American Lung Association.