Kenneth Bone: Keeping it Real

During the second presidential debate, the people declared a winner: Ken Bone, a man who works in a coal-fired power plant and one of the undecided voters at the debate.  Ken Bone, the man that took the world by storm with his awesome red sweater and cool ‘stache, was a winner.  Not only was he the most adorable man anyone has ever seen, he reminded all of us about the real issues in this race for the White House.  He reminded us that the environment is an issue that has many sides to it and it has to be addressed.  This is a letter thanking him as well as addressing his question.

Dear Mr. Bone,

In an election that seems to be more about who is more popular and who can dish the better insults, I want to thank you.  I want to thank you for asking a question on one of the many issues that have been overlooked throughout this election and many others: energy and climate change.  You asked a question that matters and will matter for years to come: "What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job layoffs?".  It is a hard question, but it needed to be asked. 

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gave good answers, but you and many others were disappointed by how they each answered one-half of the question; Clinton talked more about climate change, whereas Trump focused on jobs and the economy.  I agree that they both should have answered both questions, but again it is difficult.  There is no pleasing everyone in this situation.     

No one wants to layoff anyone.  We need this country to thrive again after what was the worst financial crash since the Great Depression in 2008.  To have unemployment drop is a great thing, almost miraculous, and we want to keep it that way.  In a perfect world, there would be no unemployed American. 

However, climate change is a real problem and coal is one of the causes.  Coal is a very expensive pollutant, a pollutant that is losing to oil and gas because of price differences.  In reality, coal is being used for no reason since it helps no one.  It hurts the environment and the wallets of the people who have to buy it.  Mr. Bone, I understand that you work in a coal-fired power plant, according to a statement you made to CNN.  You said that your power plant is newer, making it more environmentally-friendly, but your concern is the older plants, the ones that are contributing to climate change.  The possible solutions to the climate change problem resemble a Sophie’s Choice situation: Do we save jobs or the environment?

I am going to play devil’s advocate and say that we should focus on climate change.  We only get one planet in this life and it is dying.  There is no denying that.  Well, apparently there is.  Trump has said that climate change is a “hoax created by the Chinese” and he is completely serious about fighting climate change and not in a good way.  The Paris Agreement, for instance, is a deal that brings countries from all over the world to help combat climate change through trying to stop the increase in temperature as well as dealing with the impacts of climate change.  Trump said that if was elected, he would stop this deal from happening.  We need a leader that first off, understands that this is actually happening. 

Scientists that support the agreement, came together to write a letter for any non-believers out there, particularly Trump, to emphasize the importance of this deal and the impacts it can have.  In the open letter that can be found on responsiblescientists.org, coal is mentioned right in the first paragraph: “the burning of oil, coal, and gas also caused most of the historical increase in atmospheric levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This increase in greenhouse gases is changing Earth’s climate.”  The letter goes on to say that climate change is a problem created by humans and therefore, should be stopped by humans.  Species are going extinct and the oceans are rising.  Let us not make the situation any worse. 

Clinton, on the other hand, is ready to be better than President Obama in terms of combating climate change.  She is working on a program that can decrease greenhouse gases by eighty percent by the year 2050, according to Coral Davenport of The New York Times.  She also plans on working to improve an increase solar panels and other clean-energy resources by 2020.  According to the article, “Hillary Clinton’s Ambitious Climate Change Plan Avoids Carbon Tax,” Clinton plans on getting started the second she steps into office.  This is a different extreme from Trump’s stance on climate change.        

While my choice written in this letter has no power, this is what I believe and this is hard for me to say.  I propose a solution, though: Maybe, just maybe, the right candidate can find a way to satisfy both sides of the argument by getting rid of the older coal factories and replace them with clean-energy plants.  Train the employees that worked at the coal factories to be a part of this instead.  I do not know how realistic my ideal solution is.  I am no politician nor an expert in economics or climate change, but three things are certain. 

One is that this election needs to stop focusing on emails and newly-discovered tapes and actually focus on issues like climate change.  At the end of the day, the American people care more about the fate of the planet and their jobs, not the fate of Billy Bush.  Second, these presidential hopefuls better be prepared to solve the problem once one of them steps into office.  Last but not least, we all have to choose the right person for the job.  The planet is literally at risk.  We must choose wisely. 

To the Ken Bones of the world, keep doing what you are doing.  Keep asking the right questions.  Keep making people aware of the real issues.

 

Ariel Barreas, Student Intern FDU

 

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