U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy deftly sidesteps the elephants in the room in his piece on coal ("Pennsylvania Is Coal Country," Sept. 15) -- climate change and ocean acidification -- and that's a grave error in judgment. The effects of CO2 from fossil fuel are documented and accepted by the scientific community.
Recently, the Seattle Times published an extensive piece on the lesser-known threat from CO2, ocean acidification. Titled "Sea Change," it explains fully the deleterious effects of CO2 on the marine ecosystem, which are irrefutable and being witnessed now, across the planet. From the article: "But all that CO2 is changing the chemistry of the ocean faster than at any time in human history. Now the phenomenon known as ocean acidification -- the lesser-known twin of climate change -- is helping push the seas toward a great unraveling that threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom, and far faster than first expected."
Carbon capture and storage, held up by conservatives as the savior of the coal industry, is too late and too expensive to be of help at this point. We are already too far in "carbon debt" to delay aggressive action any longer. The Obama administration accepts this, and thus we had the change in the social cost of carbon calculation.
It's time to move on from fossil fuels. Mr. Murphy raises the ghost of Solyndra, which was a good idea, originally supported by the Bush administration, that couldn't get down the cost curve. Solar is clean, fast to install and getting competitive with fossil fuels; in addition, grid-level storage is getting closer to reality. Mr. Murphy, and those like him, are failing Pennsylvania and the nation in trying to keep us in one place, instead of accepting the science and moving to prepare us for the transition that must happen, if humanity is to avoid a catastrophe.