What’s the Matter With Kansas? This Guy

Original blog from Coal Block

I just try to lay out the facts.

Tones of Equilavent Carbon per Capita

Tones of Equilavent Carbon per Capita

Those were the words of Tom Mullikin (lawyer and nationally known speaker) at a talk he gave sponsored by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce to a “crowded hall full of business and political leaders from across the state,” as printed in the Wichita Eagle. Mr. Mullikin went on to talk about how local efforts to curb the effects of coal plants on the environment are useless, listing “facts” about how man-made emissions only comprise 5.5 percent of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that “Kansas homes, factories, cars, livestock and power plants… contribute just 0.013 percent of all greenhouse gases floating in the world’s atmosphere.”

This is not the first time I’ve heard these statements about percentages, and they are irrelevant. It is not the overall percentage of greenhouse gases represented by human activity that matters – what matters is how much the overall amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases, and 5.5% is a significant amount. Just think of blood alcohol levels, or a glass of water filled to the brim – one more drop will make it overflow.

The other glaring piece of misinformation provided by Mullikin is the idea that changes and efforts on a local scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is futile. This notion is not only totally incorrect, it is irresponsible, and Mr. Mullikin should be ashamed for touting such nonsense.

Though the direct effect on greenhouse gas levels is not immediate, local efforts to change our way of generating power and to take responsibility for our effect on the ecosystem is the only way to fix these problems. Someone has to lead a movement, and until someone, somewhere stands up and demands a better way of living and existing on this planet, no one else will follow. It is less the emissions from these defeated plants in Kansas that will make a difference, and more the movement it will help encourage towards renewable methods of power generation: methods that don’t include smoke-stacks, and certainly not coal-fired boilers.

As he stated in his talk, China has now overtaken the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Is this supposed to mean that we are now excused from doing anything to help fix this crisis? Such notions are borderline psychotic. And according to an article from The Guardian, China is now the world’s leading producer of energy from renewable sources. Not only are Europe and the United States still responsible for the majority of man-made greenhouse gasses currently present in the atmosphere (we’ve been burning fossil-fuels far longer than China or anyone else), but we have a responsibility to lead the world in a direction of energy generation that won’t destroy our ecosystem.

And in that sense, Kansas has been leading the way. The people of Kansas are to be commended, along with their visionary governor, Kathleen Sebelius. She has stood up against the coal companies and the pollution-profiteers in defense of the health of her people, the environment, a sound energy system, and stable economy.

Abandoning fossil fuels is not only good for the environment, it is good for our economy and would make us energy-independent. Just because something may not have an immediate, large impact doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to do. Sometimes the greatest change starts with the faintest of whispers. Mr. Mullikin, and his energy business buddies, would do well to learn that.