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Money versus environment

To the Journal editor:

As a retired scientist, I fully subscribe to the climate science that says we are dangerously close to passing a point of no return with respect to irrevocably damaging life as we know it on planet Earth.

My purpose here is to encourage our #1 focus/goal to be long-term reduction of our collective carbon footprint, i.e., to reduce our net contributions to human-caused global warming.

As costly (and otherwise consequential) as a Line 5 spill would be, the impact of that pales in comparison to the world-wide consequences of global warming (which we are already experiencing) such as rising sea levels; increasing severity of storms, droughts, famines, and wild-fire seasons; etc.

I believe that the “gentlest” way to begin lowering contributions to our collective carbon footprint is to immediately cancel all new projects falling in the category of “risky fossil-fuel technologies” and reverse as many already existing projects as possible; these risky technologies include long-distance fuel pipelines, fracking, massive fuel terminals, near-shore drilling, etc.

Enbridge’s Line 5 upgrade at the Straits of Mackinac qualifies as a new project; it represents a massive investment designed to increase our future dependence on fossil-fuel consumption. As such, it demands to be stopped.

I believe we need to view the Line 5 controversy as part of a necessary world-wide effort, rather than as a local effort designed largely to prevent a local tragedy.

I was inspired to write this by an article in the current (Spring 2021) Earthjustice quarterly magazine. Though it is an excellent article, I do not believe it did enough to “connect the dots” with Earthjustice’s numerous other projects designed to halt “risky fossil-fuel technologies”.

The Line 5 controversy is typical of such controversies all around the world in that it causes the most risks to the most vulnerable among us.

The more affluent among us will be able to pay to “clean-up” the results of a spill (as the state of Michigan is still doing from the 2010 downstate spill — also from an Enbridge pipeline — billed as the largest pipeline spill anywhere in the U.S.).

The less affluent among us will not be able to pay increased costs of clean water, and may not be able to survive on the reduced incomes from fishing in a resource depleted by a fuel spill.

We must keep in mind the effects of environmental disregard throughout this precious earth.

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