Letter to the Editor

Correction:

Correction: An earlier version incorrectly represented 12 one-thousandths of 1 percent (0.012 percent) as 0.0012. This article has been updated.

Congress must quit dithering on climate change

Regarding the May 20 op-ed by Rep. Lamar Smith, “Let’s cool our rhetoric on climate change”:

Apparently, Mr. Smith (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has little use for the conclusions of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, at least insofar as they conflict with the short-term interests of the petroleum and coal industries. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has been frustrated by the dithering of Congress on this issue for a generation.

The extent of his denial is breathtaking. Mr. Smith even made the logical mistake of concluding that increasingly common extreme-weather events cannot be linked with human-influenced climate change, simply because responsible scientists caution that no one event can be ascribed to that cause with scientific certainty.  

Rather than seeking to “cool” the rhetoric on climate change, Mr. Smith should acknowledge that the time for any sort of rhetoric passed decades ago and the time for constructive solutions is far overdue. As an expert on science — which he surely must be, given his title — Mr. Smith must appreciate that if we get this issue wrong, nothing else will matter.

Scott Barden, Leesburg

I commend Rep. Lamar Smith for rightly stating that climate change must be thoughtfully and objectively approached. Unfortunately, the remainder of his commentary only partially lives up to that standard.

What did he get right? I thank Mr. Smith for not denying the existence of climate change altogether, a common and unfortunate Republican trend. The congressman was also right to push back on Keystone XL activism and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on coal plants as good policy on climate change; the government picking winners and losers is not economically efficient or adequate. Instead, we need a much more comprehensive and strategic climate policy, ideally a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

His article broke down, however, with the assertion that developing-country emissions are a reason not to act here at home. The opposite is true: The United States will have no legitimacy on climate negotiations with the developing world if it doesn’t get its own house in order, especially with per- capita emissions nearly four times those of China.

I urge Mr. Smith to pursue a revenue-neutral carbon tax to best manage this issue, and attached to that bill can be a prohibition on the EPA regulating carbon emissions.

Peter Bryn, Houston

The writer is the Houston chapter leader of the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Rep. Lamar Smith’s op-ed was surprisingly 20th-century. Unfortunately, he’s supposed to be helping to lead our country as we deal with climate change in the 21st century.

Mr. Smith stated that “there is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science.” That may have been a true statement in the 1970s, but today there is really no uncertainty regarding the primary cause of climate change — human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels. Mr. Smith also recommended that we use yesterday’s technology (oil and gas drilling) to create jobs. Our 21st-century economy should be looking at the fuel sources of the future, including locally produced wind and solar power.

Our 21st-century economy should be encouraging the development and marketing of new technologies that we can use here and export to other nations. I encourage Mr. Smith and other lawmakers to join me and my children in the 21st century and lead us into a sustainable energy future.

Desiree Di Mauro, Vienna

The writer is a member of the Sierra Club.

Rep. Lamar Smith asserted that “contrary to the claims of those who want to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions . . . there is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science.” He seemed to have conveniently forgotten the argument he made two sentences earlier: The Keystone XL pipeline should be approved because “even if the pipeline is approved and is used at maximum capacity, the resulting increase in carbon dioxide emissions would be a mere 12 one-thousandths of 1 percent (0.012 percent).”

In other words, the science of climate change is uncertain, except when the data support his pro-oil agenda.

Paul Sorrentino, Laurel

 
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