Readers Write: Consequences of climate change; US attitude adjustment on wildfires

Letters to the Editor for the September 2, 2013 weekly print edition:

Wildfires, natural gas and fracking, and Arctic development are closely linked to climate disruption, but the articles on those issues failed to mention that key connection.

Solutions to wildfires must address entitled-to-be-saved-from-myself attitudes in the US. If we continue like this, people will build on the lips of volcanoes and then demand to be saved.

Consequences of climate disruption

The July 29 issue included several articles that relate to climate disruption. I thank the Monitor for that, but also urge you to be more diligent about including the consequences of climate disruption in any article that touches on the subject. Andrew Guzman's commentary ("US must fight climate change as it does terrorism") was particularly good.

Regarding the Focus article on "fracking" ("Europe eyes its natural gas"), it worries me that availability of natural gas in Europe could curtail Europe's push toward renewable energy. Natural gas is better than coal and oil in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions per kilowatt-hour or British thermal unit, but only if leakage of gases is controlled to very small amounts. The article should have pointed this out.

Wildfires and climate disruption are closely interrelated, but the article on wildfires ("Can we learn to live with fire?") doesn't mention that. Climate disruption sets up conditions for more wildfires. Wildfires put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and accelerate climate disruption.

The commentary by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska about opening up the Arctic for development also does not adequately discuss the negative consequences of climate disruption and seems to portray the warming of the Arctic as a good thing. What about when the permafrost in the tundra begins to melt and release vast amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas? What about the loss of polar bears and other wildlife that depend on Arctic conditions?

William H. Cutler

Palo Alto, Calif.

Attitude adjustment on wildfires

Regarding the July 29 Focus article "Can we learn to live with fire?": Real solutions to destructive wildfires need to go deeper into the psyche and entitled-to-be-saved-from-myself attitudes growing in the United States. This dialogue needs to be about people knowingly building in areas of potential danger from fire or water. If we continue on the path we are taking, it stands to reason that, if there is a way, people will begin to build on the lips of volcanoes and then demand to be saved.

A.M. Zerr

Bismarck, N.D.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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