Thank you for covering the anniversary observance of the Lac-Megantic disaster. Headlined “Portland rally recalls tragedy” (July 6), that coverage described one of the rally’s sponsors, 350 Maine, as “a group that opposes fossil fuels.” Speaking as a member of 350 Maine who attended the rally, it would be more accurate to say that the group opposes the runaway climate change caused by fossil fuels.

Over the last century, unarguably, we’ve benefited from some amazing things – warmth, light and power to move by virtue of the fossil fuel in our cars, boats, planes, furnaces, stoves and electric utilities, to cite one example; or the innumerable uses in offices, stores, hospitals and homes to which fossil fuel-based plastics have been put, to cite another example.

But also over the last century, the fossil fuel-related carbon dioxide content of Earth’s atmosphere has gone from under 300 to more than 400 parts per million. Climate scientists agree that 350 parts per million marks the upper limit of safety.

Not only are we beyond a safe point in relation to the carbon dioxide we’ve already put into the atmosphere, but there are nearly five times more known reserves of fossil fuel in the ground than are safe to burn if Earth’s climate is not to careen out of control.

As we continue to unearth these fuels, to transport them, to burn them at an increasing rate each year, the tragic image of a driverless oil train bearing down after midnight at more than 60 miles per hour on the little town of Lac-Megantic becomes emblematic of still greater tragedies to come, looming over everybody.

Against fossil fuels? Not exactly. But we can best honor those who died at Lac-Megantic by sharply reining in the use of fossil fuels and choosing, instead, a safer, wiser way.

Lee Chisholm