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Global warming prevention is 'a moral issue'

Aide to Pa. governor speaks at Wilson College

Aide to Pa. governor speaks at Wilson College

January 30, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The canaries in the coal mine of global warming are the polar ice caps, rapidly melting and threatening to displace tens of millions of people as sea levels rise and inundate the coastal regions of Earth, Lance Simmens told his audience Tuesday at Wilson College.

Former Vice President Al Gore's message from the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" about reducing fossil fuel use to save the planet was delivered by Simmens, a special assistant to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

"What I'm going to tell you about is not a political issue ... it's a moral issue," Simmens said. However, he said U.S. environmental policy in the past seven years has been "an unmitigated disaster" and the power to effect change lies in electing new leaders.

With 4 percent of the world's population, Simmens said this country produces 30 percent of the greenhouse gases causing the planet to heat up. Special interests, such as oil companies, do not want Americans' thirst for oil to dry up and automakers have resisted building fuel-efficient vehicles.

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As individuals, Simmens said people can take steps to reduce their dependence: Buying fluorescent light bulbs, driving less, getting hybrid cars, using low-flow showerheads and washing clothes in warm water instead of hot.

Fluorescent bulbs were available to the audience free from Shipley Energy.

The pace of global warming accelerated in the past century, coinciding with a rapid increase in the world's population. Bill Stead of Chambersburg, a retired engineer, said the "human metabolic engine," more than 6 billion people expelling carbon dioxide with each breath, could be the real culprit.

"That's a tough issue. I don't want to touch it," Simmens said.

Chambersburg Mayor Peter Lagiovane said economic prosperity is an effective form of birth control, as richer countries have lower fertility rates. Achieving economic development without the pollution is the challenge, he said.

Government policies are "too timid," said Rob Wheeler of Fayetteville, Pa., a member of the World Movement for Global Democracy. Technologically, the country could reduce oil dependency much faster, he said.

Borough Council President William McLaughlin, who introduced Simmens, said the borough is trying to get greener, including buying its first electric car later this year.

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