Letters to the Editor

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But there are numerous reasons for the U.S. to develop risk-assessment policies regarding the use of fossil fuels. The U.S. trade deficit is over $725 billion per year, or more than seven times the deficit of a decade ago, primarily due to oil imports. When China and the rest of the world stop feeding U.S. profligacy, watch the financial meltdown. Or watch China move into the Middle East as oil peaks and declines and war clouds proliferate (Syriana mirroring reality).

We need to change the public discussion for the 2008 election. Nothing does this better than well-written initiatives -- for example, putting the sales and annual vehicle-license taxes for new, non-commercial vehicles on sliding scales based on fuel efficiency or alternative fuel use, and charging a significant tax on electricity above a baseline amount during the solar window, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Roland James

The cold, hard facts: Your cover story on climatologist William Gray merits kudos for so adroitly summarizing a very complicated scientific story. As a graduate student in environmental science at the University of London who nevertheless hails from Colorado, I've paid close attention to these debates given our area's prominent place amid them.

An otherwise fine piece of journalism is marred only by the conclusion, which draws upon mis-reported news stories on the National Research Council's study released in late June, summarizing it with the line: "The evidence of man's impact on the climate continues to mount." This is definitely not what this quickly composed spring report concluded.

Instead, the NRC committee weighed in on the famous "Hockey Stick" in paleoclimatology, and concluded that the argument flaunted in the IPPC report of 2001 was wrong -- namely, that the argument that 1998 was the warmest year in 1,000 years, and even extended to 2,000 years back, is false. It is merely one "plausible" interpretation, they politely chided scientists -- but reporters stupidly converted this subtlety into "probable" fact.

In truth, that plausibility is now shortened to the time since the bottom temperatures of the Little Ice Age -- for example, when the River Thames routinely froze over in winter 400 years ago. In other words, the climatological science that prevailed before the "Hockey Stick" hysteria mushroomed after 1998 reaffirmed the Medieval Optimum when palm trees were well known in England. This is quite contrary to any "mounting" evidence of man-made climate change.

As Professor Gray himself says, the planet has recovered from a natural oscillating cycle during the last century's late return to warmth. Human influence on world climate -- if any -- is very, very recent, and most likely overwhelmed by larger natural forces.

T. J. Olson

Study as you go: Alan Prendergast, congratulations on a nicely balanced article on Bill Gray, and on actually successfully summarizing the conclusions of the NAS study. You might be alone in getting that part right.

Charlie Martin

That's Sensational!

All gawk, no action: Regarding Michael Roberts's "Gimme Ten," in the July 6 issue:

Any time there's a critique of the "media" (which most people love to describe as some sort of singular entity), it's generally referring to the news media, and the most common critique is this concept of exploitation or insensitivity.

Now, this has been around for ages. I think it generally comes from people not liking to have their worst moments recorded for history. Let's face it: People love to have the "media" around as long as they're the winning team, the prom queen, employee of the month, new baby, whatever. But for some reason, those other moments, those "not so good" moments, are not worthy of being recorded, and the media is being insensitive for doing so.

As to exploitation, why is it that even hundreds of people can stand around gawking at a "news event" and nobody sees a problem with this? But you throw a camera or a reporter in with it, and suddenly it's exploitation. The "bleeds it leads" rule will always apply as long as there are people rubbernecking at the latest accident on the highway, standing behind the police tape at a crime scene, or otherwise gossiping to try to find out exactly what happened. But the next time you're at or around an "event" and desperately craving more information about who shot first and how much money they got away with, ask yourself just how exploitive you're being and then shut the fuck up.

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