October 13, 2013

I love it when people who lean politically to one side of center are willing and able to consider the data, apply reason and embrace a position that is stereotypically thought to be on the other side of center. Kudos to Michael Gerson, who did this with his evidence-based concern about the real challenges of climate change [“A difficult climate,” op-ed, Oct. 11].

Mr. Gerson also pointed out the political obstacles that defeat constructive action. In this vein, a wise Washington insider insisted to me recently that we could deal successfully with climate change if no one cared who got the credit. Further, many working on climate change tell me that most people talk only to others who think like they do and don’t reach out to “disagreers” because the conversations never go well.

Whatever the issue, it would help if those with firm opinions go through the same exercise Mr. Gerson did: Weigh the evidence and view issues as problems and opportunities rather than as ideological imperatives.

Then, take the next step: Talk not to the usual suspects who inhabit the same silo but with someone on the “other side” who is willing to make the same effort. People who tend toward opposite views can indeed find mutually agreeable grounds for action. No, this not naïve; it is eminently practical.

It helps more if we vote for those who try and don’t vote for those who don’t bother to try.

Thomas Bateman, Charlottesville

Neither The Post’s editorial board nor the people in power in the world can have it both ways. The Post’s Oct. 9 editorial stressed, “The likelihood that human-induced global warming will have severe effects on humanity is far too high to ignore.” Yet on Sept. 18 the same editorial board advocated exporting “cheap U.S. natural gas” to “countries such as Japan, which are desperate for fossil fuels.”

Just because energy proposals make temporary economic sense does not justify ignoring the fact that the continued burning of large quantities of fossil fuels leads to higher global atmospheric and ocean temperatures and increasingly catastrophic storms such as last October’s Superstorm Sandy.

The consequences of short-sighted, profit-driven energy decisions will likely be the continued degradation of climate, public health and political stability throughout the world. Alternative investments in solar and wind power and in energy efficiency would offer a better chance to achieve a life-sustaining and robust economy.

Frank L. Fox, Mechanicsville

The writer is chairman of the Sierra Club Southern Maryland Group.