Public Comment

Fossil Fuels Are Harming Us

Harry Brill
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 05:33:00 PM

To protest Chase Bank's commitment to investing in fossil fuels, a national day of action was held this past Monday (May 7) against the Bank, which is a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan. Chase bank is one of the largest investors in the dirtiest fossil fuels. Although some European banks have been restricting their lending on behalf of fossil fuels, JPMorgan Chase has instead quadrupled its financing. 

According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) air pollution that is mainly emitted from road transportation causes about 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. The researchers calculated that those who die as a result of foul air lose on the average ten years of their lives. 

A few years ago the public learned about the Volkswagen abuses. Their engines gave a false, understated reading of the amount of pollution that their cars were emitting. However, please don't assume that the legally sanctioned emissions are therefore safe. Far from it, as the MIT study found. 

The fossil fuels -- oil, coal, and natural gas-- have produced exorbitant profits at the expense of our health. But this has certainly not been a new development. In the 1920s, only 10 percent of Americans owned a car. Most people got by very nicely and comfortably in electric trolleys. However, the auto industry was very unhappy that these trolleys limited their sales. So they decided to do something about it. 

General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, and Mack Trucks were among the companies that were involved in demolishing almost17,000 miles of streetcar tracks in cities around the country. Many of these street cars were replaced by gas polluting buses and then by automobiles. Because street cars for the most part disappeared and busses provided very limited service, the public felt compelled to purchase automobiles. Only a few U.S. cities, including San Francisco, still have an urban transport system based on streetcars. For the most part local governments were passive about the auto industry's aggressive agenda. 

Since then with few exceptions, municipal governments have shown little interest in developing adequate public transportation systems. As the public knows, breakdowns in most systems are frequent, trains are often overcrowded, and the meager scheduling of trains and busses results in long waiting time. 


So what should we be doing with regard to the fossil fuel problem? I think you know. We have to keep plugging along.