Letters to the Editor

Letter: Not too late

November 14, 2013


To the editor:

Next March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release a report on the effects of global warming. Information about the report has already been leaked as reported in the SF Gate (“Report: Warming likely to make bad things worse,” Nov. 5). This report confirms my fears about global warming: food and water shortages will become more commonplace, severe weather events will claim more lives, and the threat of violence and civil war will be more pronounced. The article, however, ends on an optimistic note. We can prevent disasters by reducing our fossil fuel emissions. 

Currently there is legislation that has been introduced in the Senate which places a tax on carbon emissions and returns the proceeds to the public. The Climate Protection Act provides a market-based approach to cutting CO2 and helps consumers to see the true costs of fossil fuels. The report due out next year foretells of devastating future, but with this tax-and-rebate bill before the Senate, I am hopeful.


Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

WE humans should undertake this matter of Climate Change into our own hands instead we wait for a carbon tax to make us change our ways.

Or we wait for MORE catastrophic weather that kills our friends and family to wake us up.

Or we wait for wayyy more expensive gasoline which has been draining our wallets for years.

Or we wait for food prices to go beyond reality due to climate change.

Why do we humans resist parking the gas guzzlers instead of going for the leaner burning vehicles?

Perhaps not everyone but a large number of us could take up walking to work, bicycling to work or grabbing public transportation.

Errands and in town driving are the most effective sources for fossil fuel pollution so I guess we humans need to get smarter about how we humans go about running our errands.

If we wait for congress to legislate better decisions we will never stop polluting in such large ways.

George Lippencott 4 years, 1 month ago

Help me here - are we not investing significant sums in climate remediation efforts? Kansas is building wind energy farms at considerable expense to utility rate payers. CAFE standards continue to make more efficient cars more attractive. More and mno0re people are transition to hybrid or electric cars driven in part by government subsidies. New codes have been implemented to make future housing stocks more energy efficient. Money is being provided to retrofit buildings to reduce energy consumption.

Exactly what is your beef - that it isn't enough?? If so how much do you want?

Bob Smith 4 years, 1 month ago

There's no paper over here. Could somebody pass me a carbon credit?

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 1 month ago

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Back in the 70's we were headed for an ice age. In the 80's we would destroy the Earth as we know it within 20 years because of green house gasses. It is all garbage. The whole "global warming" scam is designed to shift wealth from nations that have it to nations that don't. That's it. It is a giant income redistribution scheme. With the ice cap over the Antarctic that has increased by 2 million square miles over the last year and the North Passage across the North Pole completely closed through the summer, where 20 vessels are now trapped, it completely debunks all of the "models" projected from the Henny Pennys of the world.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

You have been misinformed.

"Back in the 70's we were headed for an ice age." No, we were not. There were a handful of studies that thought that our increasing aerosol production would outweigh our greenhouse gas emissions. They were the minority. http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php #11

"Antarctic that has increased " The Antarctic ice has increased by a small percentage despite a warming ocean and warming atmosphere. Likely the increasing melt off of the continent and the increasing precipitation that results from the warming has lowered the salinity of the surface water. Lower salinity means a higher freezing temperature. http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php #10

Arctic sea ice. How do you get from the observed 80% reduction in ice volume to there being a "recovery" of sea ice?

Got any more zombie arguments; or would you rather cackle like a child and run away?

Bob Forer 4 years, 1 month ago

"The whole "global warming" scam is designed to shift wealth from nations that have it to nations that don't"

This has to be one of the more moronic statements I have read in a month of Sundays. So Scott, the vast majority of First World, highly educated PhD environmental scientists are mere lackeys for the Kim Il-Sungs of the Third World??.

You are hillarious. I bet you believe the Secret Service Agent riding shotgun in the Presidential limo capped JFK.

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 1 month ago

And another thing........this latest report from the IPCC is a delayed report because it was supposed to already be released. The problem was the newest data on the ice accumulation at the poles and Greenland flew in the face of the report that was to come out. They had to go back and rewrite it to factor in the complete contradiction to findings. Statements like, "Well, because of warmer temperatures there has been a higher moisture in the atmosphere therefore causing a greater accumulation of snowfall and increasing the polar ice caps." Really? Are you people serious? Here's another whopper, "If you like your insurance, you can keep it. If you like your doctor you can keep them. Period!"

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

You know, just because you don't understand the science does not mean that it is wrong.

BTW Scott, I'm still waiting for you to point out the mistake in the history I gave you.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

On the IPCC AR5, there was a draft made public (in violation of the agreement made by a reviewer) some months ago. The final draft has recently been made public by the IPCC. Can you point us to the differences you are talking about?

Ken Lassman 4 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, Scott, when you say that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are growing, you're just wrong. Here's what the gravity satellites measured in Greenland and Antarctic ice mass 2002 - 2009:

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 1 month ago

Ken, the dramatic increase in the ice cap has been over the last two years. The two Ice Sheet graphs that are depicted in your example are too dated to be relevant.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott, Can you or can you not see the short term flucuations in the graphs Ken gave you? If you apply the same logic you are using now to previous uptick events, your conclusion about the long term would be right 0 out of 7 times. What makes you think you are right this time? Here is an analysis of observations published this year, which still shows a strong negative trend. http://www.the-cryosphere.net/7/1499/2013/tc-7-1499-2013.html?utm_source=Daily+Carbon+Briefing&utm_campaign=fd4d07a908-DAILY_BRIEFING&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_876aab4fd7-fd4d07a908-303421281

What have you got?

Ken Lassman 4 years, 1 month ago

Thanks, Chris, for the peer review journal article documenting the continued Antarctic ice sheet mass loss. Now here's the article that updates the Greenland ice sheet information, once again showing that these trend lines continue downward, Scott, in direct contradiction to your claim: http://www.the-cryosphere.net/7/1411/2013/tc-7-1411-2013.html

But let's bring it closer to home, Scott. Why has the USDA had to revise its heat/growing zones northward? Check out the 1990s map, which was based on the data from 1974-1986, and the most recent version, based on data from 1976 - 2005 http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/new-usda-plant-hardiness-zone-map-for-gardeners-shows-a-warming-climat and you'll see that Lawrence's temperatures have moved to Omaha and we're experiencing a climate that used to be the norm in Pittsburg. Predictions are that it is likely that today's temps will continue to move north and we'll be experiencing Tulsa temps by the end of this century.

So who are you going to believe: the Fox Channel or the foxes? Are the conifers in Canada, which have been moving on the average of 12 km north each year part of the conspiracy? Or how about the other 400 species documented in the 2007 IPCC who have been shifting their habitats poleward? I haven't had a chance to look at the latest IPCC update to see the latest numbers, but will keep you posted.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

Let's put this another way, if those graphs were of revenue by a struggling company, would you advise someone to invest their life savings in it?

George Lippencott 4 years, 1 month ago

Another big lie like “if you like your health care policy…”. This program is not revenue neutral as it punitively transfers money from carbon heavy users to others (under the best of circumstance if Congress does not rip off some of the revenue). It is not market based as the heaviest contributors to our carbon problems are our utilities which are almost all government controlled. Most importantly it does nothing to reduce carbon generation. Individual rate payers would still have to pay to fix the problem - after paying the tax that goes to others.

A little honestly would go a long way but apparently it is more important that we punish the carbon transgressors than we tell the truth. There are other solutions to this very real problem that ask all of us to progressively address a national problem.

John Graham 4 years, 1 month ago

People are concerned about global warming despite the fact that most projections of serious consequences to civilization will occur after most if not all current living adults have died due to other causes. Most models I see show the most serious events starting in the last quarter of this century. I understand the whole "we must save the world for our kids, grandkids and grandkids' kids" argument. People are adamant that if we don't do something about global warming in the next few years it could be too late for civilization as we know it.

What I find really interesting is there is not nearly the same level of concern by these same people about doing something serious about controlling entitlement program costs (those costs that are not discretionary in the budget) that are expanding at geometric rates compared to GDP. Medicare and social security are the biggest problems in the entitlement programs and ACA will join them. If something serious is not done in the near future about growth in entitlement program costs, there will be substantial harm caused to the society our kids and grandkids will inherit long before global warming causes serious problems. Where is the countrywide consensus and outrage, like there is for global warming, to do something about entitlement programs including Medicare and social security? I find it funny that the US is more worried about global warming than fixing entitlement programs that will kill off our society first by drowning our kids and grandkids in an ever rising sea of debt. I am NOT saying entitlement programs should be eliminated, but they must be modified somehow to control their explosive growth.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm a little surprised by your argument, since your concern about entitlement inflation is very similar in nature to the concern about climate, i.e. doing something about it now is going to make it much easier to handle than if we kick the can down the road, where it becomes completely unmanageable. So what are you doing about climate change that matches your concern about entitlement inflation since both greatly benefit from action today rather than tomorrow?

I'll make you a deal: if you start showing the same level of concern about the climate and the need for action to curb carbon emissions today, I'll start writing letters to my congresspeople about the need for curbing entitlement inflation. You are concerned about the car speeding toward us at 90 mph as we are crossing the road and want us to have that car slow down and pull over, but you are ignoring the semi trailer-truck full of steel rebar right behind that car that is also going 110mph. So if both of those vehicles has the capacity to turn us into road patties, what are we waiting for?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

"People are concerned about global warming despite the fact that most projections of serious consequences to civilization will occur after most if not all current living adults have died due to other causes."

That's just wrong. Under continued business as usual, we are likely to hit 2C of warming by about 2050, and 2C is generally agreed to be the outer edge of safety. Life expectancy in the US is about 80. So, most people 40 or under will live to see serious consequences.

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

If you are telling me the US has trouble with fiscal responsibility, I'll not disagree with you. But, I've seen a lot of physics equations, and money was not in any of them. The physical world does not care about our money, but our money depends on conditions in the physical world.

John Graham 4 years, 1 month ago

It is always about the money. Global warming is all about the money. If you can provide any info about any significant program to reduce global warming that does not involve substantial money I would be happy to see it. Every program I have seen wants several multiples of millions if not billions of dollars for management of the program and/or for technology. So yes global warming is all about the money. And they expect the money to come from the ever shrinking number of us that actually still pay federal income taxes.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

I'm afraid you entirely missed the point, which is to shift from a system of energy production and consumption that emits enough carbon to shift the climate enough to destabilize civilization and natural ecosystems as well. This can be done through a combination of greatly reducing energy waste and replacing high carbon emission technology with low carbon alternatives. If you know of a way to do these things without spending money, then please let us know!

John Graham 4 years ago

No I don't believe I missed the point. My comment was in response to Chris G. who stated "the physical world does not care about our money". Obviously the earth doesn't care about money but the people who are claiming to try to save it seem to care about money. In fact they want a blank check to do so. I was trying to get the point across that the checkbook does not have an endless amount of money to spend. Significant money is already being spent yet we are told it is not nearly enough. The cost of the money wanted will likely be passed on to the wealthy and upper middle class by the gov't raising taxes in one form or another and then giving subsidies (paid for by the wealthy and upper middle class) to the lower wage earners to offset any tax increase they might have. So yes it is all about the money because the ones that want to spend it don't care where it comes from. This is not unlike what happened with healthcare and ACA. It is a topic that involves all Americans yet the cost will primarily be carried by only a portion of society.

Chris Golledge 4 years ago

Small bit. A study came out of KSU recently that yields of wheat in Kansas will be reduced by 21% for every degree C of global warming. So, at 3C of warming, yields are 60% less than they would be otherwise. Do you think that will cost more or less than, say, increasing our use of windmills?

I very much enjoy my current standard of living, but if I have to choose between giving up 1-3% of my income in order to avoid sending my kids into a future with that kind of difficulty in producing food, I'll take the hit.

John Graham 4 years ago

Your 1-3% argument is equal to $130B to $390B per year. That would make global warming one of the larger budget items. That amount of money most likely would not be collected equally from all people in the US. The gov't might calculate it on a per person basis but what will happen is the gov't would decide that people on social security, the lower middle class and the poor shouldn't have to pay anything, with the middle class paying some but less than a full share. So the gov't like normal will set up a system where the rest (upper middle class and wealthy) will pay substantially more than their share of 1-3% of total personal income to cover for the ones that only pay a fraction of their share or nothing at all. That is my point. There are only so many people that the gov't has determined should be paying for all these types of programs as well as all entitlement programs. There is only so much money they have to pay with. The gov't keeps using this same system over and over to pay for the gov't never ending desire for ever more money to spend. The growth of gov't spending compared to GDP is not coming from the poor and lower middle class. The cost of the growth is coming somewhat from the middle class but mostly from the upper middle class and the wealthy, based on percent of personal income. While it is easy to say "let them pay for it they have plenty" there is only so much water in the well. If the upper middle class and wealthy complain at all about the rising costs they have in supporting all these gov't programs and entitlements then they get called "greedy". So yes I have a concern how the gov't will pay for the $300B+ per year you are talking about.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

So have you checked out the idea floating around about a carbon fee and dividend program? The concept is to collect a gradually increasing fee on carbon, collected at the source point, i.e.at the wellhead/mine/border so there is no leakage, and in at least one version the fee is distributed BACK to each taxpayer (with half a dividend for the first two children) via an existing mechanism (the IRS) to minimize overhead expenses, much like the Stimulus checks were sent out. Another version uses the fee to reduce/replace payroll taxes. These ideas are gaining the interest of many legislators on both sides of the aisle: dems are interested in how it has reduced carbon emissions where it has been implemented with minimal economic impact, whille repubs are attracted to the fact that individual citizens and the free market decides what to do with those dividends: either keep paying for your gas guzzlers and inefficient heating and cooling systems, or using the money to finance reducing energy waste and acquiring a renewable energy source. It doesn't require a huge new federal top-down program of regulations, cost overruns and delays to implement, so that many who have studied this far more than me have concluded that this is the cheapest, quickest way to go if we want significant, lasting changes in our energy consumption habits. With a little tweaking, any regional inequitabilities could be eliminated, and, like you have said, vulnerable populations could be protected if there is political will to do so.

Once again, I have suggested to you that if you are concerned about the car of inflating entitlements speeding down the road at 90 mph at us as we cross the road and the need for it to slow down and pull over, you should also be concerned about the rebar-filled semi tractor trailer of climate change coming up right behind it going 110. My deal I offered earlier in this comment column about writing my legislators about entitlement reform if you start taking measures to work for reducing carbon emissions still stands, and your silence about this is becoming more and more telling. Concern about just one of these critical issues is completely ineffective at best, hypocritical at worst.

John Graham 4 years ago

If you actually think your legislator reads your letters or takes your advice into account then you are well beyond help. You can keep writing your letters and they will keep throwing them in the trash.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

Actually, I do write my legislators, I have talked to their staff, and I get replies to my letters. You are entitled to your cynicism of course, but I have found that they listen to folks who try their best to inform themselves and act responsibly. You might try it sometime and you might be surprised.

John Graham 4 years ago

I am sure the legislator's staff relays all of your insight directly to the legislator who then uses that info in forming their opinion on a matter. I may be a cynic but I live in the real world, not fantasyland.

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

And I'm sure that legislators take note of your comments here on this little comment playground and change their policies thanks to your concerns about entitlements posted here. Where else do you engage with the system that you seem so concerned about reforming? Um hmmm...just as I thought. Without an engaged citizenry, special interests are free to play the game with abandon. Thanks for doing your part.

John Graham 4 years ago

They take as much notice of me on this site as they do you writing letters and making calls that they ignore. Keep telling yourself that your opinions matter to legislators. You can also write the Easter bunny and Santa Claus, it will do more good than writing and calling the legislators.

Chris Golledge 4 years ago

So, how much would having 60% less food cost?

Chris Golledge 4 years ago

What do you think the cost of not mitigating climate change will be?
This is an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure problem. Mitigation will cost far less than adaptation. Amongst the economists who accept that the last 150 years of science is not entirely wrong, that is the consensus. The legislation in question has nothing to do with income tax. It would impose a fee on the production, manufacture, or import of carbon intensive fuels. http://www.sanders.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/0121413-ClimateProtectionAct.pdf

John Graham 4 years ago

The tax on production or manufacture or import of carbon fuels will be passed on to the consumer. The gov't in trying to keep the majority happy so they can get re-elected will come up with a subsidy program to give or they will come up with some kind of income tax credit to refund money to the poor, the lower class and some to the middle class. If you think the gov't is going to have all Americans share equally in paying for this I believe you don't know how gov't has worked in the past several decades. So yes one way or another the same groups of Americans that have paid for the ever growing entitlement nation we have become will be forced to pay for this as well. We will be told just like ACA it is our duty and privilege to pay more in order to cover for the ones that don't have to pay a full share. If we ask any questions about just how much we will have to pay then we will be labeled as "greedy" and "uncaring".

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

So you are saying that climate change does not represent something that would undermine any other efforts to put our fiscal house in order?

John Graham 4 years ago

Once again Ken you have managed to completely mischaracterize my statements to fit your own personal agenda. Since this apparently is what you do to people that may not agree with you 100%, I will simply ignore your comments directed at me from this point forward

Ken Lassman 4 years ago

Actually, you are the one who brought up entitlement reform in the comment section of a letter about climate change, so I think you are describing yourself better than I could. As I described in my post, the carbon fee is returned to the taxpayer, so it is a different creature than other entitlements you have brought up. I was the one who offered to work on your issue of entitlement reform in exchange for your considering the issue of climate change as being at least as threatening to our nation's future, and so I will take your "concern" about entitlement reform with a grain of salt from now on. Both the issues of climate change and runaway expenses for entitlements are nearly insurmountable problems that do not lend themselves to easy answers, but conflating the climate issue as just another example of entitlement abuse is not helpful to understanding either issue. Neither is just throwing up one's hands and walking away from either issue, although you are certainly entitled to do so.

Anyone can complain about the status quo; it's much harder to actually grapple with the underlying issues and work toward building bridges of understanding and coalition building where none exists. But I certainly don't know of another way through all of these seemingly insurmountable issues, and it appears you offer no other alternatives.

John Graham 4 years, 1 month ago

Ken i believe you have misinterpreted my prior statements. I agree with you that both are issues that need addressing but in my opinion people as a whole appear more united against the tractor trailer than they are against the car. If you get hit by the car which is closer to you then you won't be able to get out of the way of the tractor trailer. If we don't seriously address entitlements now then we won't have any money left to address global warming now. I am not denying that either is a real problem I was just relating my personal observation that we as a society want to fix one and ignore the other one that is equally dangerous in some ways and closer to our front door. Getting the tractor trailer under control is great but it won't do nearly as much good if we don't get the car under control too.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 1 month ago

So are you on board as working toward stopping both the car and the tractor trailer? Let me know what you're doing to work on raising awareness of humanity's role in climate change and reducing carbon emissions, and I'll post copies of letters I send to my legislators about curbing entitlement inflation.

George Lippencott 4 years, 1 month ago

Wow, neat idea.

We terminate promised and in some cases prepaid medical care and renege on social security so we can get rid of the seniors and near seniors who caused the problem. Then we use the savings to address Climate issues and the young of today can continue to enjoy their increasingly heavily subsidized lifestyle.

Note: send copy to AARP.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 1 month ago

George, You really have a knack for pouring gasoline over yourself and lighting a match over perceived injustices that are in your head alone. By writing my legislators about entitlement reform you have jumped (no, make that: hopped into a rocket) to the conclusion that I'm promoting gutting medical care and social security programs in order to kill off seniors in order to spend money on reversing climate change and so people won't have to change their lifestyles??? I have no idea how you think that I am proposing this, nor do I see the need to even defend myself from such accusations. Enjoy the beautiful weekend weather, George.

George Lippencott 4 years, 1 month ago

Thank you Ken but you did link entitlement reform with climate change. I just took it to extremes to mock your notion. Almost any position I take on this list draws negative comments as we seem to have a lot of people who missed economics 101 where they teach you that you have to pay for what you want.

Entitlement reform if done fairly will allow people to adjust to the new circumstances. When we raised the age for full benefits for social security we did so incrementally over many years. The only way you can free up resources for the yowling climate advocates is to take it from those already retired. That does raise the issue of how much and how fast - which was my point. There have been frequent advocates for just exactly that on here based on false notions that seniors get massive subsidies for social security. Not true!

So my empty can of gasoline is being reserved for those that wish to break commitments and punish those who did nothing wrong. In my time we did not have PELL grants or "free" loans for college. Perhaps if there are shortages that is the area where we should start cutting (those are entitlements also).

John Graham 4 years, 1 month ago

George believe me in that I am not advocating any change to the programs for currently retired or nearly retired. I do believe that some changes will be needed to Medicare and social security for the young and middle aged. Obviously smaller changes for middle aged than young as the young have more time to adjust to the changes. The numbers appear to strongly suggest that if some changes are not implemented the whole thing will simply become more than what the country can afford over the next 25 to 50 years. That means the current recipients and near recipients can be left alone to continue as before but those say younger than 50 to 55 will need to see graduated changes to the programs in order to sustain the long term survival of the programs and the federal budget/deficit. Certainly all entitlements need to be looked at to reduce costs, it just has to include Medicare/social security since they are by far the largest. And yes I am in the age group that I am recommending see some changes to their Medicare and social security.

George Lippencott 4 years ago

Well we in general agree. I do however accept some impact to those of us already retired to help address the pain. In return I expect impact to everyone else to include those on the social safety net and the large number not paying federal income taxes.

Note a big part of the projected deficit is the missing trust fund. Back in 96 the issue was seen and the trust fund established to avoid exactly what is happening. Exactly what consequence has been levied against the elected officials that spent the trust fund and now want sacrifice of others to conceal their greed.

Gerald Kerr 4 years ago

It is too late. Politicians and ideologues have long ago ruined chances of objective discourse. 99% consensus is a sham. No models of co2 forced global warming have been verified- all predictions of disaster have failed. Bureaucrats and opportunistic researchers demand more and more taxes and more funding of jiggered research to further scare the wallets from our pockets.

It is too late. The economy is in shambles. Hard times focus our attention to the astounding absence of unmassaged supporting data. Climate change talks are in disarray. Countries previously supportive of carbon tax credits are bailing out. Albert Gore weeps.

Bob Smith 4 years ago

Al is laughing all the way to the bank.

John Graham 4 years ago

Al takes his private jet with all of its excessive carbon emissions to the bank.

Chris Golledge 4 years ago

There is a world of difference between carbon credits and a carbon tax. A carbon credit scheme is basically permission to keep burning fossil fuels; a carbon tax aims to makes carbon fuels more expensive than alternatives. Your confusing of the two is telling us you really haven't looked into the matter, at all.

BTW, please tell us specifically, what it is you think you know that hasn't been discovered by the people who have been studying the climate system over the last 100 years plus?

I understand that climate change is scary, and the science may not be easily understood, but denying that we have a problem is not going to make the problem go away.

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