In California, is countering climate change worth the cost?

Your Sept. 6 editorial, "California's inconvenient truth," sees obstacles, rather than opportunities, where climate change is concerned. We in the US have a president who calls solutions too expensive, even as climate-change-driven disasters ring up their own astronomical toll and as entire climate- saving industries go unborn due to his lack of vision and leadership.

The solutions for climate change are, by and large, win-win answers that will save us money in the longterm via more fuel-efficient cars, houses, and businesses. If there are short-term, front-end costs, so be it; economy at the expense of the planet's future is morally unthinkable.

The "inconvenient truth" is that many ignore the absolutely unacceptable cost of doing nothing. Are we, for example, willing to pay the "costs" of losing polar bears, penguins, and myriad other species, or entire cities, or at-sea-level nations as we discover it is too late to act?

While much of the answer is in slowing out-of-control population growth and consumption in the leading carbon-producing nations of China, India, and the United States (which is headed toward a billion people this century), it is embarrassing that we do nothing, while Germany, Japan, and Norway move forward for the sake of the planet – and their own economies.
Kathleene Parker
Rio Rancho, N.M.

Regarding your Sept. 6 editorial about California's new law aimed at reducing carbon emissions: Isn't it obvious that this "mandate" will end up just like the one passed by the California Air Resources Board that "mandated" electric car sales? (CARB later loosened the mandate's requirements.) The California legislature can't figure out how to get what it wants without it costing people's pocketbooks or the economy.

The US and other countries' legislatures should take note. If you push too hard in one territory, business and manufacturing moves elsewhere. It is not likely that you will ever get all the world to implement harsh limitations on current technology. Fossil fuels are still relatively cheap. Laws may be put on the books, but enforcement is another thing altogether.

I am still waiting to see the Al Gores of the world report on what level of man-made greenhouse gases is acceptable and will not result in the predicted catastrophic effects. From the few reports I have seen, the acceptable level of greenhouse gases is not anywhere near as high as Kyoto levels.

Perhaps tax money and public persuasion would be better spent moving populations away from the coastal areas – because if the predictions prove true, current plans to reduce greenhouse gases will not progress fast enough to prevent catastrophe.
Roger Lachele

On winning the peace in Iraq

Regarding her Aug. 31 Opinion piece, "How to bridge two views of success in Iraq": Janessa Gans's description of the different perceptions between Iraqis and Americans shows a great gap to be bridged. But how useful such clarifications are! They are a start to understanding what is needed to build the bridges so needed to win the peace in Iraq.

More efforts should be made to work from such a basis of critical thinking and understanding.
Yvonne Renoult
San Francisco

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