Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the need to reduce emissions, equality in the military, piercings and dress codes, and the problems with SUVs.

For a cool temperature later, reduce emissions now

Regarding Ross McKitrick's Dec. 3 Opinion piece, "Let policy follow science: Tie a carbon tax to actual warming": This is a fundamentally flawed idea. To see why, consider that over the past century, the earth's average temperature has increased about 0.7 degrees Celsius. If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, climate models predict that the surface and atmosphere would warm an additional 0.4 to 0.5 degrees Celsius over the next several decades. Thus, we have only experienced about two-thirds of the warming that today's emissions will eventually cause.

This lag in the climate system makes managing climate change an incredibly difficult policy problem. If we want to stop significant warming in the second half of this century, we have to start reducing emissions today. A good analogy is piloting a supertanker: if you think there are rocks ahead, you have to start turning well before you see them. If you wait until you're in sight of the rocks, you're already committed to a collision.

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Mr. McKitrick's suggestion that we wait for significant warming before implementing a tax to reduce emissions is like waiting until seeing the rocks before turning a supertanker – it commits us to suffer the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. If we want to avoid the possibility of significant warming of the climate, we need to reduce emissions now.

Andrew Dessler
College Station, Texas

Professor of atmospheric science, Texas A&M University

Equality needed in US military

In response to the Dec. 4 article, "US Military more open to gays serving openly": Thank you for publishing this article. Anyone who looks at the "don't ask, don't tell" policy objectively sees a policy that harms national defense by firing qualified and dedicated troops who are badly needed in wartime. This undermines the core values of the military, by forcing service members to lie about their sexual orientation while expecting them to otherwise be truthful. And it offends our American values of equality under the law and respect for the sacrifices of all who have served and those who continue to serve our great country. America deserves better than this policy.

Paula M. Neira
Bowie, Md.

Lieutenant, United States Navy (1985-91)

Dress codes should include piercings

In response to the Dec. 3 article, " 'Body art' gains acceptance in the workplace": The article only briefly mentioned piercings. Here in the Pacific Northwest it seems that employers allow all types of piercing, even when the clerks and sales personnel work directly with the public. I'm grossed out when I talk to the clerk while she is ringing up my groceries and I see her tongue stud as her mouth opens and closes. I cringe as I imagine the pain of having a hole in my tongue or feeling a ball of metal banging up against my teeth. It doesn't keep me from shopping at a particular store, but I wish the dress code not only included the black pants and white shirt but also required leaving face jewelry at home. There is a line between a pair of cute little earrings and metal stuck in orifices. I wish more employers would find a way to draw that line.

Margarette Bull
Kirkland, Wash.

Stop buying and selling SUVs

Regarding the Dec. 5 article, "New CAFE standards wouldn't push SUVs off the road": New fuel standards by 2020?! Give me a break. It's time to stop buying SUVs. You'd see how fast they could improve fuel standards if the fuel hogs weren't selling.

Margaret Thorson
Waldron, Wash.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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