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SUFFOLK CLOSEUP - Green Energy Future Is Before Us


By Karl Grossman

Substantially reducing climate change is technologically feasible. What’s needed? Action. The main cause for climate change and global warming and consequent sea level rise is the burning of fossil fuels—oil, coal and gas. Technologies are available today to replace oil, coal and gas with non-carbon emitting green energy.

Suffolk County has been a trailblazer. In 2014, the East Hampton Town Board voted unanimously “to establish a goal to meet 100% of the town’s community-wide electricity consumption with renewable energy sources for the year 2020.” Also, the town would “meet the equivalent of 100% of…energy consumption…in all sectors…including heating and transportation with renewable energy sources by the year 2030.” In doing this, East Hampton became the first municipality on the East Coast of the U.S to set a 100% renewable energy goal.

The Town of Southampton in 2017 followed with its100% renewable energy goal.

In Brookhaven Town, Ed Romaine, among the most environmentally committed Suffolk officials as a county legislator and now town supervisor, has led in green energy initiatives.

In 2019 “100% clean energy mandates have swept the nation with many passed in the last six months,” reported PV Magazine in June. The article pointed to the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act enacted in June aimed at a “100% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions…by 2050 with the stated goal of ‘exercising a global leadership role on greenhouse gas mitigation and climate change adaption.’” The word “Leadership” in the act’s title is telling. As Governor Andrew Cuomo said in signing the measure: “As Washington turns a blind eye and rolls back decades of environmental protections, New York turns to a future of net zero emissions.” 

President Trump calls climate change a “hoax.” But that hasn’t stopped government action through the U.S. As the Sierra Club states on its website: “Over 90 cities, more than ten counties and two states, have already adopted ambitious 100% clean energy goals.” U.S. cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, San Francisco, Orlando, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Santa Barbara, Atlanta, Amherst, Gainesville, Madison, Milwaukee, Palo Alto, Aspen, San Jose, Spokane, St. Petersburg. Santa Barbara, Sarasota, Burlington, Cambridge, St. Paul, Tallahassee. 

There is action at the grassroots. Google “100% Renewable Energy” and there is website after website of Non-Governmental Organizations and environmental groups laying out where 100% renewable energy is happening and the mix of green energy being used in reaching the goal. “The Solutions Project” ( declares: “A world powered by the wind, water, and sun is not only possible—it’s already happening.”

There’s deep involvement by religious leaders with Pope Francis in an important role.

A top analyst in detailing the abundance of green energy alternatives is Dr. Marc Z. Jacobson, director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University. This includes solar photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, wind, hydroelectric, wave-power, tidal-power, geothermal and the list goes on.  He appeared last month in the national TV program I’ve hosted for now 28 years, “Enviro Close-Up.” You can view this show—the title is “The Hoax That Nuclear Power Is Green”—online at  

There’s more political and media attention to climate change than ever. Notable this month was CNN’s Climate Crisis Town Hall with 10 leading Democratic presidential aspirants. In coming days there’ll be a Global Climate Strike led by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. On September 23 a Climate Action Summit will be held at the UN organized by its secretary-general, Antonio Guterres. He says: “We are in a battle for our lives. But it is a battle we can win.” The Inconvenient Truth of Al Gore is center-stage.

The oil, coal and gas industries and their cronies in government will keep trying to stop the momentum. Their strategy is exposed in the book Merchants of Doubt by science historians Naomi Oreskes of Harvard and Erik Conway of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They document how the climate change-denial strategy is modeled after the decades-long tobacco industry strategy of casting doubt over the link between smoking and cancer.

Others are trying to sabotage what’s happening. These include the anti-environmental president of Brazil giving his go-ahead for the burning of Brazil’s rain forest which supplies 20% of the world’s oxygen. And “the Indian industrial giant Adani” which after “lobbying and politicking,” as the New York Times recently reported on its front page, was given the OK by Australia to extract coal from the “vast, untapped coal reserve in Northeast Australia” to be burnt in Adani power plants in India. This “despite warnings by scientists that reducing coal burning is key to staving off the most disastrous effects of climate change.”

Nevertheless, the road to a green energy future is before us—to be taken. 

Karl Grossman is a veteran investigative reporter and columnist, the winner of numerous awards for his work and a member of the L.I. Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury and the author of six books.   


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