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John Denver stopped being cool right around the same time I started listening to Blue Oyster Cult. That does not mean that suddenly his music had no place. He is as much of an icon to the Seventies as Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles. To vilify the man for a couple of bad judgment calls (DUI, etc.) is to overlook the fact that for a while, he was one of the biggest-selling singers in the country. A lot of people were touched by his music. It was simple, but it had a way of reaching people emotionally. You watched him perform, and you knew he was doing something he loved--you could feel it. For the few moments that one of his songs were playing, you could sense what it was that was important about life. Earth, humanity, nature, finding peace within yourself. These are what John Denver's songs mean. To be able to put such feeling into simple songs is a talent not very many possess. Until John Denver died, I had not listened to his music in years. The day after his death, I dug through my records and played "I Want to Live." John Denver was no longer cool (if he ever was), but his music still crept up on me and found a place within my heart--a place that cares about nature, humanity and inner peace.

Sean Elliott
via the Internet

Set Your Alarm
I just read Steve Jackson's October 9 article "Global Warning," on the global-warming debate. It reminds me of the asteroid impact/dinosaur extinction debate. In both cases, there is a split in the scientific community, with the media reporting predominantly one side of the issue--the one that will alarm more people and sell more papers and advertising.

The way politics has crept into both of these debates is disturbing, but it's also very instructive. Scientists are mere people, and politics is the way groups of people interact. We should not expect scientists to be above political considerations that other people must deal with. If anything, this shows us that we must all be educated enough to understand the basic practices of science so that we can make valid judgments when confronted with debates among the experts.

Right now most people are at the mercy of a press that knows little or nothing about science and that will print almost any story that will bring in advertising revenues. The solution to this problem is not to become cynical about the press or scientists, but to become better educated so that we can cut through the politics and the rhetoric.

Kevin M. McLin
Center for Astrophysics & Space Astronomy
University of Colorado, Boulder

A friend once quipped that after nuclear war we would still be here, just very rearranged. Unless Mother Gaia belches in more than a mythical way, mankind isn't going to suddenly implode or explode out of existence. Assuming the worst in terms of global warming, it will produce what every global shift creates: economic winners and losers.

The current world complex involves immediate, intractable problems: overpopulation everywhere; waste of resources (cheap goods, land included, do not reflect their real environmental costs. It is great while it lasts, unless decadence and waste leaves you depressed); stratified, reactionary cultures everywhere. The well-being of the future billions of young people does matter.

The future world de facto governments--privately owned corporate global giants a la Microsoft ($=power=government)--will do what they are do now, only better: cater to consumer wealth. These "private" corporations (if they represent the interests of billions, people or dollars, are they private?) will want people economically healthy enough to buy their product. If global warming makes things a lot harder for the average Joe (compared to now, there will be even more "losers" than "winners"), the military/ industrial complex will earn billions protecting the losers from the winners (I said share, dammit) and vice versa (I want it, it must be mine). I wouldn't want to be a fat person in a room full of starving people.

The world can be a lot better place. We don't need the threat of global warming to understand the necessity of treating Gaia (land, ocean, atmosphere, creatures) and all humans better--now.

Good article. Thumbs up for science.
J. McCabe

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