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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We need to leave carbon in the ground

By Johann N. Bruhn
November 5, 2013 | 3:47 p.m. CST

Editor's note: These comments were made at Monday's EPA Region 7 public hearing in Lenexa, Kan.

I would like to commend the EPA and the administration for having the clear vision to recognize the essential need to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into our atmosphere, our soils and our bodies of fresh water.

My message is simple, honest, and it is supported by every national academy of sciences on Earth that has addressed the topic of climate change. In the interests of retaining an environment that supports human peace and well-being, we must immediately and substantially reduce human production of greenhouse gases and other harmful materials (including mercury, acid rain, fine particulates, heavy metals and organic toxins), including those that are released during fossil fuel combustion.  According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (2009), electric power generation is responsible for more than half of the greenhouse gas production in Missouri.

There is no reason to give existing fossil fuel-powered facilities permission to pollute any more than new plants. If coal can’t become really truly clean, then in the best interests of our species, we need to leave that carbon in the ground.

Why are we spending Missouri treasure on Wyoming coal, when the wind blows free in Missouri, and the sun shines freely here as much as it does in Florida? Home-state solar and wind energy already generate far more jobs for each $1 invested than do fossil fuels. And the cost per kilowatt hour of solar- and wind-generated electricity is now less than that for fossil fuels (and continuing to drop).

Please do the right thing by our children and grandchildren. Help us to leave them a secure future by preventing runaway climate change on a severely polluted planet.  After all, “Spaceship Earth” is the only home we will ever have.

Johann Bruhn, Ph.D., of Columbia has studied forest ecology and forest health professionally for more than 40 years. He can be contacted at