There is a lot we can do to address climate change before paying billions for solar and wind farms (which also have negative environmental impacts).

Zoning plans often encourage sprawl and discourage density. This results in more roads, more cars, longer transmission lines and more fossil fuel consumed. It also results in land use changes from forest to development.

Zoning laws that encourage density make strong city centers, more walking, more biking and less automobile use. Multi-unit buildings are more efficient than large single-family homes in terms of heating and cooling. House lots less than an acre in size compared to larger lots result in less forest land conversion.

Managing forests results in products made from wood. Solid wood products consume exponentially less electricity and fossil fuel than the manufacture of similar products made from steel, plastic or cement. Wood products are “atmospheric carbon storage devices”; they hold their carbon for long periods of time.

Decomposing wood eventually returns carbon to the atmosphere without producing heat or electricity. Thus, burning wood to produce heat and electricity results in no net gain in emissions and keeps an equivalent amount of oil in the ground. Managing forests can also reduce forest fires, which release substantial amounts of carbon to the atmosphere.

New York’s new climate laws focus on carbon emissions to the atmosphere. The trouble with this is they ignore other tactics that are far less expensive and do not require new technology or government subsidies to implement. Why focus only on emissions and new technologies? You get more votes if you don’t recommend changes in the way we all live. Betty Little was right to oppose this costly and open-ended legislation.

Roger Dziengeleski, Glens Falls

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