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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2005

OUR PLANET EARTH

FEEDBACK FED BACK

Illuminating responses to 'Glimmers of hope . . . '


One of the most entertaining things about being a columnist is getting feedback from readers.

Before e-mail, and anthrax, letters from unknown return addresses were much like Forrest Gump's proverbial box of chocolates: you never knew what you'd get. Scrawled, typed, most signed but some anonymous, however they arrived, letters were never dull.

Then, as now, those readers who write in are passionate about their opinions. Some champion local issues, others urge me to pound away at familiar global concerns. But most write simply to let me know that I am completely out to lunch or couldn't be more right -- and invariably both viewpoints arrive in response to the same column.

Today, e-mail makes it far easier for readers to share their thoughts, and far more do. Whenever I recount an interesting letter to my editor, which usually happens over a cold beer or two, he inevitably urges me to give a column over to readers' correspondence. So this month, in the waning dog days of summer, here is a selection of readers' comments in response to my July 28 column, "Glimmers of hope on global warming: Moves afoot to counter U.S. Big Oil's clout.''

The premise of the column was that, despite George W. Bush's claim that reducing carbon dioxide emissions will "wreck the U.S. economy," nations worldwide (and some U.S. states as well) are increasingly finding that they can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and stimulate economic growth (see complete text at www.japantimes.co.jp )

All of the following comments came by e-mail, and I have replied to each reader individually. Except for some editing for length and typos, these are their words. In the spirit of fair play they appear here in the order received.

* * *

Straight karma!

According to some Nobel Prize winner, if we don't change our ways of consuming, the human race will become extinct in 300 years.

Again, this is karma.

In the meantime, who cares about Tibet (apart from lip service)? Who cares about the children who die in the Dominican Republic because the Chinese mafia sends fake tablets over there (to make money, of course)? Who cares about the poor Amerindian in Peru, for example, from where a dishonest president flew to an Asian country with the money of Peru (where nobody tells him off)?

Who cares for Amazonia, New Guinea, Africa?

A French philosopher (he could have been anything) put it in a nutshell, ending one of his short stories called "Jonas" (the man in the belly of a whale) with these two (sic) words: "soliDaire ou soliTaire [united or alone]?"

Only one letter makes the difference.

Anyway, i've just discovered your paper and i love it.

* * *

If we cannot predict what the weather will be in one day to 100 percent accuracy, why on earth would you want to throw millions out of work and lower living standards on a guess. Europe is not meeting its goals and its industry is fighting hard to ease cuts so they can stay competitive. No company or city in America is doing anything but playing politics with this issue. There is not a Governor or Mayor in this country that would sacrifice growth for some religious fairy tale called global warming.

I know that you believe this will lead to the end of the Great Satan and then the world will be good again without the evil hegemony of the U.S. I wish you could see the world without the U.S. in it. I believe you would quickly change your mind.

* * *

Stephen: In reading your article you state several times "worldwide scientific consensus." Could you let me know of your source? I cannot find such a study. In fact I have read several climatologists state that they have not been asked (polled). The other comment I have (having worked in the computer field for over 30 years) is that [you say], "According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the planet is likely to warm an additional 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius over the next century." Is it true that the best computer models predict with only a +/- 400 percent certainty?

This reader asks for a study representing the scientific consensus. Unfortunately, no "official" poll has been taken of all climatologists worldwide; the closest equivalent is the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, comprising hundreds of scientists and researchers from around the globe (www.ipcc.ch ). Also, recognizing the infinite complexity of our planet's myriad interdependent natural systems (geological, biological, chemical and climatic), it is not surprising that our best computers are still unable to model with greater certainty.

* * *

Dear Steve, it is with interest that I read your article about global warming and greenhouse gases (GHG). The only way carbon can be reduced in the world today is to reduce the carbon cycle of GHG. To do this we need a new energy source to replace fossil fuel and crude oil, in greater quantities being consumed. This technology is here today and can be implemented immediately. Hence my question: Just how serious are you about the GHG problem and what will you do to help to reduce and reverse this worldwide? I have a technology called the d'Oliveira Natural Gas Refinery (dNGR) that can accomplish this today. For further details visit my Web site www.users.bigpond.net.au/dngr

Respectfully,
an inventor

* * *

Bush and his friends represent savage capitalism. Soon they will be eating each other and the world will be better off. Find a way to make the market free and a cesspool will open up and take them where they belong.

* * *

Good piece! "Write" on

* * *

[This e-mail begins with a line from the column: "A reader recently asked if using the term 'climate change' instead of global warming is an effort by naysayers to understate the dangers of warming . . . "]

Just read your excellent article. I am pushing for Global Climate Disruption. Warming is a misnomer since an ice age is one of the possible outcomes, if the Atlantic current shuts down. Even the word "change" doesn't do justice to the problem -- change can be neutral or positive. Global Climate Disruption or the even stronger Global Climate Catastrophe seems a more accurate description.

* * *

Dear Mr. Hesse,

Excellent article! It's unfortunate that "Big Oil" is holding the future of a healthy world hostage. I guess greed, power and wealth outweigh vision. Don't these powerful people have children and grandchildren they treasure more than anything else in the world?

But, I would be a hypocrite to say that I don't burn fossil fuels. However, I am trying with baby-steps forward (e.g., Ride a bike to work occasionally, cut the lawn with a push mower, etc.).

The time to act is now, not in the near future when the Earth becomes more like its inhospitable solar neighbour, Venus!

Good Luck!

* * *

Mr. Hesse,

Although I have to shake my head at the alarmist, I do recognize the situation we are in and wish we could do more sooner than later. All things take time and this is just another instance. Patience, work, and faith will triumph. I assure you.

* * *

These letters are just a taste of the intriguing array I receive each month, varying in number and insistency depending on what I have written. Thanks to the Internet, I hear from readers worldwide, literally from India to Indiana, and Forrest Gump's axiom still holds true. So, in the words of a reader above, Write on! It's always good to hear from you.

Stephen Hesse welcomes readers' comments and questions at stevehesse@hotmail.com


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