Causes of climate change and responses to it
Regarding "Warming up to warming" (June 5, Editorial): The reason the US doesn't agree to clear-cut government curbs on greenhouse gases and comply with the Kyoto Protocol is simple it can't. Why? Population growth. Europe, with its stable population, can make reasonable per capita cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and be in compliance with the Kyoto treaty. For the US, with a rapidly growing population expected to double by the end of the century, the treaty is a moving goal line. The gains of any cuts in per capita greenhouse gas emissions will be wiped out as the US population increases.
The Environmental Protection Agency has come out on the side of science, affirming that humans cause global warming. But President Bush dismissed their report, saying it came from "the bureaucrats." In fact, it came from knowledgeable scientists looking at the future beyond the next election cycle. There's no doubt the US needs a long-term policy to address global warming.
The good news: We are now aware of the dangers and trends causing global warming and investments are being made in alternative energy sources. The bad news: Much of this good work is being undone by population growth and consumption increases in the developing world. A billion people will be added to the world population in the next 15 years all in less-developed countries where present populations already aspire to Western basics: cars, refrigerators, clean water, and reliable electricity. As a consequence, greenhouse-gas emissions in developing countries may exceed those in the West by 2010. Treaties and technology can go a long way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but equal attention must be paid to the speed of population growth.
Population and Habitat Program
National Audubon Society
Few doubt that the earth is currently experiencing a warming trend. Questions surround whether the current warming trend is caused by humans, and if so, what are the potential impacts and what can we do to mitigate negative ones? The EPA's report implied that these questions have been answered. This couldn't be further from the truth. The cause, potential impacts, and appropriate responses to global warming are still very much in debate among climate scientists.
Whether or not human activity causes climate change, the Kyoto Protocol will do nothing to prevent it. The protocol focuses on the short term. Global warming, and any actions to reduce it can only take place over the long term. Carbon dioxide has a relatively long life in the atmosphere and emissions will likely rise for the next decade or two.
As the Bush administration has consistently maintained, rather than spending precious time and resources slowing the rise in greenhouse-gas emissions which may or may not mitigate climate change we should prepare for a warmer world with all of its variable effects, regardless of the cause.
H. Sterling Burnett
National Center for Policy Analysis
Regarding "So Americans can play soccer" (June 6): I watched the US National Soccer team defeat the highly rated Portugal, 3 to 2 in the World Cup competition played in Suwon, Korea. The US played a fantastic style of soccer and Portugal's top players, Luis Figo and Ricardo Sa Pinto, were kept under tight control by the US defense. Keep it up, America! Surprise the pundits. Let me make the bold prediction that the US will be the coming new power in world soccer.
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