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Letter: Lower oil prices offer a breather

Mustafa Atabay, manager at the American Gas station

Mustafa Atabay, manager at the American Gas station in Smithtown, pumps gas on Jan. 14, 2015. Prices at the full service station fell to $2.17 Wednesday morning. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The article "French climate envoy sees hope in low oil prices" [News, Dec. 31] was somewhat encouraging. It suggests that lower oil prices offer breathing space for governments and industry to free up funds to invest in clean energy. This really matters to each of us, because the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agrees that fossil fuels, which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, are a major factor driving climate change.

We can all see the impact. Storms are increasingly severe and cause more damage to people and economies.

I see tulips and irises growing on Long Island in late December. Plant life is confused, and some of our food supply is in danger. Heavy flooding and tornadoes in America's bread basket states, and the freezing of our citrus seem more serious each year.

Do low oil prices give us an opportunity to increase investment in clean energy? Yes, they might. But I am realistic enough to think we need a special incentive to see real change. A carbon fee or tax at the point of extraction, for example $10 or $15 per ton, would encourage energy companies to invest in clean wind and solar power.

Eloise Linger, Huntington Station

Editor's note: The writer taught global politics in the department of Politics, Economics and Law at SUNY Old Westbury.