Letters

Humans have little control over global climate change

The March 24 article, "Little time to avoid big thaw, scientists warn," is long on painting a doomsday scenario, but very short on exactly how cutting emissions of greenhouse gases will "stop" global climate change.

Could Earth not once again alter its orbital inclination as it apparently did during the interglacial period? According to solar physicists, the sun has raised its energy output by 30 percent over the past 1,000 years. Will the sun suddenly stop this process and go cold? Will the decadal temperature oscillations of both oceans, which also surely have an impact on polar ice melt, suddenly reverse themselves?

I'm sick of scientists posing as fire-and-brimstone prophets, inventing computer models that forecast Mother Earth's final judgment on the "sinfulness" of humanity's conspicuous consumption.

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The sun-Earth relationship, and its consequent influence on Earth's climate, is in a perpetual state of change. Someday that change may be catastrophic for humanity. But species will go and new species will come. Life will go on. To suggest that we humans have direct control over global environmental change is just plain unscientific.
Anil K. Singh
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Old plants should have clean emissions

The March 20 article, "Court deals blow to EPA's relaxed rule on air emissions," gives great hope to many citizens in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest who have been waiting more than 30 years for electric companies to meet the national air quality standards set by the Clean Air Act in the 1970s.

It is far past time that the owners of old, coal-burning power plants built before 1970 should meet the same emission standards required of newer plants. These plants - such as the Mirant-owned Potomac River Generating Station - operate today without modern pollution controls. In Mirant's case, only citizen pressure unveiled the truth last year that this plant caused more than 13 times the healthful limits of sulfur dioxide to be in our neighborhood air - and between two to four times the healthful limits of nitrogen oxides and particulates. Companies should either meet current air quality standards or close down and make way for new, cleaner energy producers. The EPA must enforce this law now.
Mary Harris
Alexandria Va.

Efficient troop transports are vital

In the March 23 Opinion piece, "The US needs to build a smarter military, not a bigger arsenal," Lawrence Korb and Sanford Gottlieb make some good points. They rightly note the necessity of improving homeland defense and the need to spend less on nuclear weapons and sophisticated fighter aircraft.

Then they suggest eliminating or shrinking: the nuclear arsenal, missile defense, the F/A-22 fighter, Virginia-class submarines, and the V-22 Osprey. Unlike the rest of the listed weapons programs, the V-22 Osprey is not primarily designed to counter high-tech battlefield threats from enemies who no longer exist. It is a troop transport designed to get soldiers into position safely and speedily. If the authors truly want a "smarter military," wouldn't a faster, quieter, and safer form of transport for our soldiers be a benefit?

Air Force special operations units are scheduled to get 50 V-22 variants. And the US Marines, whose soldiers have been fighting and dying in Iraq, have staunchly supported the V-22 weapons program for two decades. The V-22 seems to be a smart choice for a smarter military.
Sam Maverick
Santa Clara, Calif.

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