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Letters to the Editor about global warming

A special collection of letters on the global-warming debate.

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It is, in fact, the perspectives of skeptics or deniers in the climate debate that are political. Rather than acknowledge the torrent of evidence establishing global warming and humanity's role in it, they have resorted to conspiracy theories, questionable science, and reliance on marginal uncertainties in climate science.

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Their position is largely motivated by an ideological view that champions human domination of nature, unlimited material consumption, unregulated markets, and the belief that technology can shield us from any environmental problems that might arise along the way. The idea that humanity is now facing global ecological limits that require precautionary action and limits on our resource consumption and waste production is antithetical to this worldview.

Unfortunately, this ideologically motivated effort to deny anthropogenic global warming is not just the province of a skeptical fringe; it has been behind the refusal of the Bush administration and many other American politicians to take meaningful action on climate change. The real scientific debate is over; if skeptics still want to debate the issue, they can acknowledge the science and then engage in the more legitimate moral and political debate over the degree to which society ought to address this problem.

Peter F. Cannavo
Clinton, N.Y.

Visiting assistant professor of government, Hamilton College

The well-thought-out steps we take to reduce greenhouse gases will improve our overall quality of life.

I am thankful that the Monitor presents both sides of the greenhouse-gas story. I remain skeptical of the current conclusions of global-warming research and adhere to the view that natural heating and cooling cycles overwhelm the current impact of humans.

Returning sequestered carbon to the atmosphere is actually beneficial to life on earth. Before the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric carbon dioxide was reaching rarefied concentrations.

This view does not excuse anyone from living responsibly and working to minimize their environmental footprint. We all benefit from high-value environmental conservation steps that are applied universally, steps such as low birth rates, effective mass transit, rooftop solar arrays, organic farming, robotic waste recovery, and use of environmentally friendly materials.

Michael Benning
Wayne, Pa.

The pathology of denial seems similar to that of Earth-centrists, Holocaust deniers, evolution deniers, and other small groups who are convinced that belief alone is sufficient to reverse the trend of knowledge.

While criticism and the proposal of alternative working hypotheses are central to the progress of science, repeating the same hoary, tested-and-failed hypotheses simply fogs the issue without adding anything to the discussion. Anthropogenic climate change (in addition to real nonhuman change) is real, ongoing, and irreversible within societal time scales (years to decades).

At this point, the only viable remaining debate is in regard to appropriate action. If the last major warming event (out of the most recent glaciation) is any guide, humans as a species are likely to profit rather than lose from global warming. Other species and specific groups of humans are certain to be negatively impacted.

Reasonable individual steps to reduce our contribution will also save us money, conserve rapidly depleting energy resources, and reduce some sources of international conflict – a win-win-win situation! Reasonable societal steps will also be socially beneficial in the long run.

The sooner we learn how to live with a warmer global climate, the better off we will be.

William Locke
Bozeman, Mont.

Professor of earth sciences, Montana State University