The cost of doing nothing

I just received my electric bill. I am pleased to say that I used only 6 kilowatt hours per day, thanks to my conservation efforts. My bill always comes with a newsletter from the electric cooperative. Yet again, the coop is moaning about new and tightening EPA regulations that protect air and water resources. The newsletter speaks of the costs of regulation, and warns me that rates are likely to go up. What they don’t talk about is the cost of not protecting our air and water, and the cost of not cutting down on CO2 emissions. On the one hand, I may have to pay 10% more on my energy bill. On the other hand, my risk of asthma increases due to particulate matter from smokestacks. The fish I would like to eat will bio-accumulate even more mercury from coal plant emissions. The increasingly volatile weather will do more damage to property (including the distribution system maintained by the electric cooperative). My homeowners insurance will go up another 30% due to increased risk from extreme weather events. My local beaches will wash away and be inundated by extreme high tides, as the oceans continue to rise. The food I buy will continue to get more expensive, due, in part, to record-breaking droughts and heatwaves that are decimating food crops.

So, tell me again, why I am supposed to be incensed by regulations that attempt to limit environmental damage and catastrophic climate change? How can you really put a price on clean air and water? How can you put a price on your health? I’d love to have both cheap energy and a pristine environment, but I’d much rather invest a few dollars in protecting the environment, now, rather than squander our natural resources and gamble with our future. The first rule of gambling is to never bet more than you can afford to lose. We have no planet B.


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