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Abandon All Fossil Fuels


“The morning of January 28, 1969, began about like any other winter Tuesday in the town of Santa Barbara, California.” That’s how I began my case study of the Santa Barbara oil spill. But by the end of the day it was far from an ordinary winter Tuesday. It changed history and my life as well.

Researching my book, immersed in energy’s central role in everything, I encountered today’s nemesis: climate change. I learned that climate change has been a significant factor in the rise and fall of human cultures. There are theories about the causes of previous changes; but the cause of the ongoing one is fact, borne out by data and atmospheric science. It’s us. It threatens our survival. Our dilemma is, to survive we must abandon the fossils that fueled two centuries of progress. Thank you, California and former Governor Brown, for understanding this and for your climate leadership.

Acknowledgment and acceptance of the herculean challenge is mushrooming in state and local governments, industry, religious and professional groups and private institutions, and is making inroads in Washington. Support is growing for something like the Green New Deal, with a strong, comprehensive, and fair price on carbon pollution and vigorous promotion of green energy and development of ways to remove and sequester carbon already in the atmosphere.

So on this 50th anniversary of the blowout that changed everything, thank you again, California, and good luck to all of us.

Carol Steinhart, with John Steinhart, is the author of “Blowout: A Case Study of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill. Duxbury Press, 1972.”

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