Letters: Focus on climate change

In this May 30, 2013, file photo, water In this May 30, 2013, file photo, water splashes over the Center Street Dam in the swollen Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. Climate change's assorted harms "are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond," the National Climate Assessment concluded Tuesday. Photo Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall

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Newsday received a number of letters about Sunday's editorial urging action on climate change ["Risk of inaction is too great," May 11]. The letters ran 5-to-1 in support of Newsday's position. Here's a representative sample.
 

The editorial board hit the nail on the head. We must discuss solutions to climate change while we still have time to prevent disaster.

Fossil-fuel pollution of our air and water is disturbing, even if one ignores the storm and crop damage, higher insurance costs and health impact of climate change. These societal costs are not reflected in the price of these dirty, outdated fuels.

Economists tell us the fix is simple: Have polluting fossil-fuel extraction companies pay the public directly. By making fossil energy more expensive while putting cash back in consumers' pockets, we could support healthier energy decisions.

Newsday calls for the courage to discuss climate solutions. Why not a carbon tax?

Andrew Brunson, South Setauket

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I agree that it's time to move from debate to action. We don't need more of the same tired challenges to climate-change science that have been shown to be factually incorrect or irrelevant. We never see a complete, consistent alternative hypothesis that more accurately explains all the data, because there isn't one. Climate change rests on basic physics.

Some on the right are skeptical of climate change because it is a cause associated with the left. But thermodynamics and quantum mechanics know no political party. Some on the right who challenge climate change do so because they worry it will impede their political goals. Ironically, that may not be the case.

By blocking attempts to put a price on carbon, one shackles the power of the market to address climate change, and the natural response has been to use the remaining tool: government regulation. So if you don't believe in the market and like government regulation, by all means continue to block any attempt to put a price on carbon.

Robert Garisto, Bellport

Editor's note: The writer has a PhD in physics.
 

Your editorial should be a wake-up call to Long Islanders. However, what you failed to mention, and what is never brought up in climate debates, is the tremendous benefit of trees, particularly large shade trees.

It seems that the entire focus has centered on decreasing carbon admissions. It does not seem that any one is talking about increasing carbon absorption. While I lack specific data and facts, there is no doubt that a large deciduous shade tree absorbs an enormous amount of carbon from the atmosphere.

Trees are solar-powered and act as water pumps. They use physical and osmotic forces to pump water from the ground, into the leaves and into the atmosphere. On a hot day the result is evaporative cooling that creates a respite from the heat.

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The trees also take water from the ground, increasing the capacity to absorb the flooding rains of summer storms. This keeps runoff out of our basements, but more important, it keeps potent nutrient- and pesticide-rich runoff from flushing in to our overburdened bays.

Towns and villages should require builders to keep large shade trees and plant one new one for each property that they develop. The federal government should support this with penalties for lack of such programs.

Kevin Niles, Brightwaters
 

The recent Chicken Little, scaremongering U.S. National Climate Assessment released by the Obama White House comes from the same administration that told us that if we liked our health care plans, we could keep them. The same administration that said the Benghazi terrorist attack was caused by a YouTube video, that there isn't a "smidgen of corruption" in the IRS targeting conservative organizations, despite Lois Lerner repeatedly invoking the Fifth Amendment, and so on, and so on, lie after lie. This time, we are expected to believe it?

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Edmund Fountaine, Oakdale

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