Jan. 13, 2010: Wasted time in global warming fight

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To The Editor:
In his letter to the editor in the January 6 issue, Stuart E. Buswell makes the point that human breathing accounts for a large amount of greenhouse gas emission. The most reliable statistics I have been able to obtain indicate that fossil fuel burning accounts for approximately 12 times the amount of greenhouse gas emission accountable to human breathing. The crush of human population is a problem for our species and for our planet. In fact, it is probably the greatest threat of all. Humans have claimed far too much of the earth for their own use, leaving far too little to desperately needed wild habitat, and to other species upon whom we depend in myriad ways. Human population growth will either be stopped by the intervention of human intellect or by vicious natural forces. I hope that the governments of the world, especially that of the United States, find sensible ways to address this problem first. It should be noted that China, perhaps the world’s most overpopulated country, has taken strong (some would say inhumane) action to curb the threat of population growth. It should also be noted that eminent “leaders” of the radical right, like Pat Robertson, have attacked low birth rate countries like Germany for being “un-Christian” in not breeding to their expectations.
Global warming is very much a threat, and the science that determined it is so not political, it is the reaction to that valid science that created a political issue where there was none. Oil and coal company interests and their allies among the legions of the radical right have launched a political campaign to defeat the findings of science, and in so doing have employed “hired guns” with degrees to promote their twisted view of reality. They have launched “Enemy of the People” campaigns against people who took the time to promote the truth. The result is that we are spending time arguing about the very existence of global warming, time that could have been spent in working on and debating ways to address the very real emergency.
The idea that the global warming deniers are on the same intellectual or moral plane as the scientists who studied the data and discovered the threat is preposterous. Perhaps we should pay more attention to those who believe in a flat earth as well, and give them equal weight because we want to be open to all sides of the “issue.”
Mr. Buswell asserts that there is plenty of petroleum in “the Americas.” I would respond that our country being dependent on Venezuelan, Brazilian, Mexican or even Cuban oil would be no better than dependence on the Middle East. Most of the oil that is left in the United States is in areas that are critically sensitive environmentally, and are protected from oil exploration for excellent reasons. The total amount of oil in these areas is a tiny fraction of our insatiable demands, and everyone knows it. We must radically cut fossil fuel consumption!

John E. Cerullo,
Margaretville