Letters to the Editor for Nov. 2, 2011
Global warming: Real, right now
To the editor:
The fossil-fuel industry has created a well-funded and carefully orchestrated campaign to reposition global warming as theory rather than fact, to block regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Groups like the Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and Americans for Prosperity are using this funding to put out misinformation propaganda, just as the tobacco industry did to instill doubt that smoking causes cancer. Their red herrings are then endlessly repeated by Fox News, right-wing talk radio, and politicians and others with financial or ideological motivation. But here’s the reality: global warming is real, and its effects are becoming obvious in destructive, extreme-weather events around the globe. Thousands are dying, and millions are being displaced.
And this is not rocket science. The basis of global warming is found in straight-forward, everyday physics.
Our truck cabs and cars get warm on a sunny day with the windows rolled up. This is because short-wavelength solar radiation penetrates the windows and warms up the interior, while the windows inhibit long-wavelength infrared radiation from leaving. This is the way greenhouse gasses, such as CO2, operate in Earth’s atmosphere. The concentration of atmospheric CO2 is now at 392 parts per million, 23 percent higher than at any time in the last 400,000 years, and it’s growing. We generated about 34 billion tons of CO2 in 2010, which is more than our oceans and vegetation can absorb.
Secondly, warm air holds more moisture than cool air. We’re advised, for example, to keep a kettle on the stove in winter to re-humidify the air. Globally, the warmer air (warmer than at any time in last 1,000 years) accounts for droughts and fires (as warm air evaporates moisture from the ground) and also floods (as more atmospheric moisture is recruited by larger storms).
We should be ashamed. Manufactured doubt over climate change is causing the United States to abdicate its global leadership position on this vital issue. I urge my fellow readers to become fully informed and to speak out for efficient, sustainable, clean energy — and for our energy independence, as well. An excellent resource is: http://climaterealityproject.org/video/hour-24-new-york/.
How many zeroes in the federal debt?
To the editor:
Senator Everett Dirksen in about 1965 uttered words that made him famous. He was discussing federal spending and the federal debt. He said: “A few billion here and a few billion there and pretty soon we are talking about real money.”
Now that the federal debt is being discussed in trillions I think it is time to require the politicians and the news media to discuss how much money they are talking about. They should be required to write out or spell out the numbers for us. The amount of zeroes needed will boggle our minds. I doubt if my words will ever become as famous as Dirksen’s, but I would like to be quoted as saying: “A few trillion here and a few trillion there and pretty soon we are talking about an astronomical amount of money.”