“Coal is making us sick. Oil is making us sick.” So said Senator Harry Reid. With the entire East Coast facing a fierce Irene, nothing could be further from the truth.
America’s energy is what is keeping people alive despite nature’s fury.
The news is filled with clips of governors, mayors, and police chiefs begging people to evacuate and escape the storm and shots of highways are filled with cars heading out. Reports warn that gas stations are running out of gas and major power outages are predicted. Some areas could be out of power for as long as two weeks.
Buried between the lines of “storm surges” and “wind gusts,” is an untold story of the importance of energy in saving lives.
One hundred years ago, the rate of death in America due to extreme weather was dramatic with 8000 people being killed in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Today, the death rate per million has dropped from 241.8 in the 1920’s to 3.5 in the 2000-2006 period—a decline of 99%. The Death and Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events report, indicates that better transportation and communication systems have played a major role in the decline of death rates.
People hear about the storm through TV, Radio, and the internet. They get into their cars and drive away. Coal is keeping people alive—not making them sick. Coal provides the electricity for the communications. Oil is keeping people alive—not making them sick. Oil provides the gas for the transportation.
The role of America’s energy to keep people alive and well goes beyond hurricanes.