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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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