Letters to the Editor (5/13/10)

May 13, 2010


Let’s do something about climate change

It seems that with regards to climate change, contributors like Shelley Palmer (“Letters to the Editor,” April 29) and Mike Benevento (biweekly “Right to the Point” column), who often cites the reactionary party line, have indeed gone the way of the ostrich. Repeating twisted statistics, opinion and using slander and ridicule won’t change away the facts on the ground: the Arctic Ocean has become a liquid rather than frozen mass and the trees are flowering and greening up three to four weeks ahead of long term seasonal norms. Folks, this is climate change plain and simple. Not weather change, but climate change, although the weather has certainly been a bit overcharged and aberrant as well.

None of the global warming deniers seem to be able to supply a reasonable framework for these major changes. Did we cause it? Who knows? Can we do something about it? Maybe. Should we try and/or care? I think so, personally. But to keep pushing the do nothing agenda is to be like the guy who, when caught stealing red-handed, denies it, proclaiming, “Who are you going to believe, me, or your own lying eyes?”

Stewart Cohen, Williston


Only culture change can stop climate change

Global warming is by far one of the most confusing and ambiguous issues we face. To reduce the label stigma, we have changed global warming to “global climate change” to more accurately represent the raw effects of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. The fact is, climate change is a global concern — real or not, the possible implications are devastating and irreversible on any relevant time-scale.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. Instead we need silver buckshot that is aimed at our most basic societal functions. The solution encompasses a simultaneous transition to more efficient structures, sustainable energy sources and evolving from the habit of waste generation to conservation. These ideas are not novel or revolutionary — but they are not yet universally accepted even though time ticks by us.

The solution to our environmental woes must permeate even deeper than “going green.” The green movement that has become associated with climate change is not about changing the superficial treatment of symptoms; the green movement will only succeed as a change in culture. We have become a culture of overconsumption and waste generation, of ignorance and of convenience. You pay for gasoline at the pump but the greater price is climate change. Those who pay this hidden cost-of-culture the most are the ones who can afford it least — nature doesn’t see a world of nations and states and privatized benefits with social costs. It is one world, one home to us all. Global warming isn’t the problem — we are.

Colin Willard, Williston, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa., Environmental Engineering ‘10


Taxing everybody

If you view state and federal revenue shortfalls as a problem of insufficient taxation rather than irresponsible spending, the VAT tax could be the answer to those endless budgetary shortfalls.

Taxing consumption is good in that it takes income from everybody not just from the producers in our society. I might be in favor of such a tax if the 16th Amendment (this amendment exempted income taxes from the constitutional requirements regarding direct taxes) were repealed. The politicians in Montpelier and Washington have shown no interest in restoring individuals’ personal liberty by permitting them to decide how to spend much of the money they earn. A VAT tax without a repeal of the income tax would greatly accelerate the current growth in government and would continue to decrease our standard of living. The top 5 percent of wage earners now generate 61 percent of income tax receipts while the bottom 50 percent only provides only 3 percent of total revenues.

A VAT tax is a dandy way to diminish freedom and increase the political class’ control over choice by exempting products considered green and by applying large taxes to fossil fuels, tobacco, alcohol and sugar. The possibilities for social engineering are just about endless. Ask the governments of Greece, Spain, Italy, Iceland, Britain and Ireland how a policy of VAT taxes and unrestrained government spending is working out for them.

Worth a try perhaps. Nothing to lose but our solvency.

Shelley Palmer, Williston