Planet CO2

A gentleman from Pittsfield recently asked about mankind’s role in global warming. The main issue is rapidly changing carbon dioxide concentration caused by burning fossil fuels.

The current global concentration of carbon dioxide has not been exceeded in at least 420,000 years and possibly not for 2 million years, according to the World Health Organization. The current rate of increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide is unprecedented within the last 20,000 years. It’s estimated 75 percent of emissions during the last 20 years are from the burning of fossil fuels.

The science explaining how carbon dioxide traps heat is well understood. As our planet rapidly warms, natural systems that support life are also changing. We can’t possibly understand all these changes with absolute certainty until they happen. Why would we put ourselves at risk, especially when alternatives exist?

Given what we know, it seems immoral to not move away from burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible. We are forcing future generations to live on a planet different than the one on which life developed.

Frank John


PETA comments

I wish the readers whose snarky comments in the Oct. 7 letters section criticizing PETA’s lobster ad, which appealed for a humane death for lobsters, cared even half as much about the very real suffering that lobsters endure at Linda Bean’s slaughterhouse.

No lobster suffered for PETA’s ad, of course. But millions suffer for the table — that’s the point — and they suffer much more intensely at certain commercial outfits when, as we uncovered, their legs, heads and shells are ripped off while they are still conscious and able to feel pain.

As for the lobster’s red color, well, that’s simply a sign of the times. It’s how lobsters are shown in seafood ads, so it’s what most people recognize. Today’s consumers are so far removed from the animals on their plates that many don’t even know that lobsters turn red only after being boiled, just as they don’t know that a cow has to give birth in order to produce milk.

PETA encourages everyone to leave lobsters in the ocean, where they belong. But if someone insists on eating these fascinating animals, they might at least buy them from Whole Foods or Shucks Maine Lobster, both of which require the use of hydrostatic pressure and other less cruel killing methods, and not from Linda Bean, where (as you can see in PETA’s video at, workers tear lobsters limb from limb.

Ingrid E. Newkirk, president

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Washington, D.C.

Budget extortion? Hardly

Peter Rees’ Oct. 14 letter, “Budget Extortion,” is an excellent copy of a piece penned recently by Paul Krugman. And, like Krugman’s piece, Rees’ contains many labored metaphors and inaccurate analogies.

First, Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans are not a minority. They are the majority in the House of Representatives. That makes them one-half of one of the three co-equal branches of our federal government.

Second, according to the U.S. Constitution, spending bills must originate in the House. They are, therefore, doing their duty when they propose bills to fund the government. This isn’t extortion as implied by Rees. This is doing their lawful duty, which they were sworn to perform.

Keep in mind, when Nancy Pelosi was speaker, she threatened several times to cut off funding for the War on Terror, the authorization for which had been passed overwhelmingly and with bipartisan support and signed by a sitting president.

If anything, it is the president who is violating the oath he took when he unilaterally delays the mandate on Big Business or the mandate that Congress participate in Obamacare.

Additionally, his administration has provided hundreds and hundreds of waivers for Big Labor in exchange for their support.

The House of Representatives passed several bills to open all or part of our federal government. To use Rees’ analogy, the GOP offered its neighbor a fire hose. However, it was the Democrats in the Senate who continually refused the generous offers to keep the government functioning.

William Chapman


Keeping cool

News coverage of the newly issued climate change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is all too often a “balanced” approach in which the opinion of a huge number of climate scientists is countered by the vague assertions of corporate spokespeople.

To cut through the fog and clarify the discussion, we need to understand that scientific speech and writing is careful and rhetorically restrained, while that of our media is sloppy and profligate. Some pundits claim the report represents the views of “environmental extremists” and should therefore be discounted, but, in fact, the IPCC’s consensus underestimates some threats and almost entirely omits others, such as melting Arctic methane; the document represents a very conservative assessment of our present level of risk.

And, as such, it deserves to be taken far more seriously — for if there is one phrase that we are seeing with accelerating frequency in news about Earth’s climate, it’s “more than expected.”

Polar ice melt, oceanic acidification, species loss, extreme precipitation, wildfire severity — all of these phenomena are happening faster and more intensely than scientists’ predictions even a few years ago. By belittling the findings and expertise of climatologists, our media figures and politicians are endangering the health of our planet and the happiness of our posterity.

Warren Senders

Medford, Mass. (formerly of Columbia Falls)

Change party

Former Sen. Oylmpia Snowe recently declared that she can no longer recognize the Republican Party.

Indeed, the ultra-right minority tea party has hijacked the Republican party to the extent it no longer serves the average Maine citizen but is focused entirely on serving its ultra-rich sponsors who have no regard for the poor or the middle class.

Sen. Susan Collins, well known for her moderate views, would do well to switch parties or announce herself an independent.

Doing so would become major national news and perhaps serve as a wake-up call to those members of Congress who are blindly steering the country towards fiscal disaster.

Gene Clifford

Mount Desert