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Climate change must be addressed, but with far less emotion

Thursday, August 1, 2013
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Climate change must be addressed, but with far less emotion

The July 14 Sunday Opinion piece on climate change by Barbara Shelly was so lacking in facts.

She begins with the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots, killed while fighting a forest fire in Arizona. She then ties recent natural disasters to climate change and makes the leap that climate change is human-caused and must stop. No data is provided to tell us whether the number of storms has increased. She uses the insurance industry to justify her claim that climate change is having more impact.

However, we have more than doubled the population of the planet since the mid-1900s. More people are crowding cities, living near coastlines, and we are also building more. So when a major storm hits, it impacts more people and does more damage, which is why the insurance companies are concerned.

Here's a news flash: The climate changes. Where I'm sitting was once two miles thick with ice, and then the ice melted. The only thing humans were doing during the last ice age generated little carbon dioxide. And while it is shocking to Ms. Shelly that it is hot in Arizona, the Arizona State football stadium is called Sun Devil Stadium for a reason.

One is reminded of a conversation between Rick in "Casablanca" with the police chief, who asks Rick why he came to Casablanca. Rick says, "I came here for the waters." The chief says, "Waters, what waters? We are in the desert." Rick responds, "I was misinformed." At least Rick got the joke.

I am not a science denier. In fact, I have been a chemist for over 30 years. I know well that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that humankind has burned an unprecedented amount of fossil fuel in the last 200 years.

The key questions about human activity and climate change are:

1) The Little Ice Age was ending at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. How can we tell the direction climate would have gone if not for human activity?

2) What, if anything, have humans contributed to climate change during the last 200 years?

3) What does a system-wide risk/benefit analysis show if we were to reduce production of CO2? How much reduction, for how long, would change the climate? Is cooling off the planet good or bad? How would drastically cutting fossil fuel use impact the most vulnerable people of the world?

I am amazed at the tone of debate about climate change because, in my opinion, both sides miss the most important consequences of burning fuels as well as the best solution to the problem.

Years ago, the problem with fossil fuels was plain old pollution. Remember all those smoggy cities? Well, the pollution issues of burning fossil fuels have not gone away and are way more serious than CO2 emissions. Acute and chronic health effects come from soot, sulfur and nitrogen oxides. Moreover, coal mining accidents hurt or kill many people each year.

Fossil fuels are a limited resource, regardless of the fact that we have discovered massive volumes of natural gas. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels makes sense for reasons that have nothing to do with carbon dioxide or climate change.

The solution: Plant trees. We cannot get off fossil fuels soon. No reasonable person can look at recent data and say otherwise. Despite massive government subsidies, renewable energy has barely scratched the surface, and wind, solar, geothermal and tidal energy sources will not make a serious impact on our energy use for many years.

To reduce carbon dioxide and "save the planet," we must plant trees on a massive scale. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. They cool the planet, minimize soil erosion and help prevent water run-off. Trees provide habitats for thousands of species of plants and animals, some endangered.

Planting trees works. The Catskill and Adirondack mountains were cut bare in the 1800s. Look at those areas now! We need thousands of Adirondack parks all over the world.

Issues of climate and energy use will only be settled by sound, systemwide analysis of problems and not uninformed emotion like that espoused by Barbara Shelly.

Larry Lewis

Scotia

'Dago' insulting, no matter how it's used

Many of us whose heritage is Italian take umbrage when the word "dago" is used. It has always been used in a derogatory manner, and meant to denigrate -- regardless of its purported original meaning.

The people whose truck bears the name have already been denied access to some locations because of the perceived insult; do they not understand what is happening?

Their food may be appetizing, but the name is not. Those of us in the Italian community who disagree can only hope they will see the light and change the name.

Philip J. DiNovo

Albany

The writer is president and director of The American Italian Heritage Association and The American Italian Heritage Museum.

Amnesty for 12 million illegals would be folly

In this prolonged economic stagnation, we have seen millions of jobs disappear. Most have yet to return. In particular, low-skilled jobs, and workers, have taken a beating. People without high-level college degrees are having a hard time finding employment, and with Obamacare's job-destroying incentives looming, it doesn't look like things are going to improve.

So why are liberals pushing legalization for 12 million illegal aliens? The party that so loudly claims to be for the "working people" is about to make those hard-pressed folk compete with 12 million more people for the few jobs that remain. This is insanity, and will only worsen the economic status of millions of American citizens.

Why should their needs be sacrificed to pander to those who broke our laws coming here, and continue to break our laws by remaining here? Couple this with the fact that rewarding illegal behavior only brings more of it.

Ronald Reagan helped grant a "one-time" amnesty to 3 million illegals in 1986. The result of that action? Nine million more since then. How many millions more still would come as a result of a new amnesty? And how much stress would those multitudes add to an economy that isn't adding jobs as it is?

Would there even be a working class, or just millions left destitute and dependent on handouts for their survival?

David Welch

Scotia

Address domestic issues before foreign

I agree with Pete Pidgeon's July 18 letter. I couldn't have said it better.

Bring our troops home! There are plenty of emergencies and disasters in our own country that need to be fixed: medical care, Social Security, unemployment, immigration, and the list goes on, providing jobs for all.

With lots of work and noticeable improvement, just maybe, our country could be No. 1 again.

Dot Sies

Burnt Hills

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comments

August 1, 2013
4:34 p.m.
wmarincic says...

It's not about Amnesty, it is about 12 million new democrats

August 2, 2013
7:20 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

Dave, this is no different then Democrats slamming us with Obamacare. The unions were all behind it despite what they were told. They toed the line and did what lemmings do. Once the daze of Obama mania wore off and they came out of their self induced messiah trance, they realized they were screwed. Now they want it stopped. I say feed it to them until they gag. Illegals will take their jobs. They are being told this but again the lemmings line up to be walked off to the slaughter. Democrats are dragging this country down to the level of a third world power. Its votes and voter enrollment first, country last. Illegals translate into huge Democrat votes. Their motives for no borders extend no further then getting votes. Anything else they say is simply a lie.

August 5, 2013
2:08 p.m.
robbump says...

Regarding the letter: "'Dago' insulting, no matter how it's used"
\
Let the market decide the appropriateness of the name. People are very good at "voting with their wallet" -- I don't need my nanny-government "protecting" me.
\
There is no "protection from being offended" in our system of laws. In fact our founders made certain that even unpopular ideas were to be protected.

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