The Locker Room

Letters tell an interesting story

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:34 AM

To its credit, Newsweek publishes this week letters both supporting and criticizing its recent global warming cover story.

You might expect me to highlight the letters panning the magazine. But while those letter writers made some good points, I found more interesting some of the other observations.

For instance, one Rhode Island woman criticized Newsweek for focusing on the politics of the global warming debate, rather than the science. She ends her letter this way:

The good news is that many of the efforts put forward to reduce human contributions to warming are positive from a cultural and general environmental perspective regardless of whether they will materially affect warming. But because global warming has taken on the religious fervor of the temperance movement, it risks imposing rules that may harm developing nations and, by knee-jerk ridicule of those with differing perspectives, it creates a climate that is inhospitable to discovering the truth.

The second sentence makes sense. But it's the first sentence that seems to point to a reason for the "religious fervor." The remedies sought are "positive from a cultural and general environmental perspective regardless of whether they will materially affect warming."

In other words, it doesn't matter whether these changes will actually do anything to meet the stated goal. We should do all of these things anyway. Once you understand that mindset, the vehemence of the global warming alarmists makes sense.

The next letter offers further evidence. A retired Staten Island college professor calls the cover story a "superb, well-researched and -written, comprehensive, much-needed debunking." He then offers this information:

[L]ivestock agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's transportation sources combined, and the report projects that the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years. So among the many steps essential to avoid the potential unprecedented catastrophe from global warming, a major shift toward plant-based diets is essential.

Using the mindset expressed in the previous letter, it doesn't matter whether livestock are actually contributing to global warming, or whether reducing the growth in livestock populations would affect global warming. We should all be vegetarians anyway, so forcing people to move toward a "plant-based" diet would be "good news."

Please bear with me as I address one more letter. A California man faults Newsweek for failing to come to grips with "risk assessment" in its cover story. 

If we do everything that is needed to lessen the threat, and we are wrong, then there has been no real harm done. For those who believe that man-made global warming is real, the consequences of being wrong are that we will have spent some money and affected the way we live to some extent. On the other hand, if we follow those who deny that global warming is not man-made, then we will have disrupted the world in ways that can only have very negative consequences.

Once again, here's evidence of the notion that we should change the way we live regardless of the potential benefits. Force everyone to drive a hybrid? Use those squiggly light bulbs? Dial back energy use to 19th century levels? Substantially raise prices for those who can least afford higher prices? It's a small price to pay for changes we should make anyway.

No wonder there's little room for rational debate. 

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