Tribune-Star Readers' Forum

Educate yourself on climate change

Last Christmas, Australian kids’ stockings were stuffed with red-hot coals and roasted koala teddy bears. Fires still burn, and 3 Americans died recently (Jan. 23) fighting their fires. But Australian coal lines politicians’ pockets, so their government pooh-poohs climate change. Happy New Year, kids.

If you’re under 30, the Carbon Cartel is waging war on your future, and you’re losing. James Murdoch (son of Fox News’ owner Rupert Murdoch) knows that. He said publicly that he is “disappointed” with the ongoing denial of the role of climate change in the Australian fires in his father’s news outlets.

Exxon-Mobile has waged war for over 30 years. Their own 1980’s study of CO2 and climate found that increasing CO2 would cause global warming. A PR campaign denying the global warming they themselves predicted followed.

Since 1980, CO2 has increased 20%, and as climate scientists predicted, 3/4 of Arctic Ocean ice has melted, glaciers have retreated, and temperatures continue to rise — the last 6 years are the 6 hottest on record. Record droughts and heat have fed record fires around our planet.

Well kids, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. But you will. The younger you are, the more you will see, and the less you will like it. The last time there was this much CO2, temperatures were 4F-5F warmer and sea level 50’-80’ higher. There’s a lot of inertia in the climate system — glaciers melt slowly. So, you won’t live to see that, but sea level will rise 2-4 feet in your lifetime and 40% of U.S. population lives by the coasts.

It will cost too much to change? Not changing is more expensive. New York plans to spend at least $119 billion on a 6-mile-long storm barrier. It will take 25 years to build, and it is predicted to be inadequate as oceans rise and storms intensify. The remaining East and Gulf coasts add another 2,000-plus miles needing protection. Can you afford that? If not, what will you do with millions of U.S. refugees fleeing flooded coastal cities?

Don’t count on grown-ups to look out for you. The most common response I hear is “Yeah, but I’ll be dead before then. Why worry?” At the Davos World Economic Forum, Trump said to ignore the “perennial prophets of doom” — never mind that their predictions have regularly underestimated how rapidly global warming and its consequences would appear.

Trump and the Republicans are doing everything possible to increase CO2 emissions, subsidizing oil and coal and throttling renewable energy. Their stronghold of Wyoming imposed stiff taxes on wind energy to protect Big Coal, yet wind energy is still cheaper than coal.

To help Big Oil, many states have imposed taxes on electric autos 2 or 3 times what they would pay in gasoline taxes.

Only massive global cooperation can end carbon fuel dependence and prevent the global warming that will beggar you. The world looks to the U.S. leadership forged 75 years ago by the sacrifices of my father and others of the “Greatest Generation” in WWII, but Trump has thrown it in the toilet.

I’m not optimistic, but there is hope — hope that you young people will rally and mount the ramparts in time to save yourselves.

Greta Thunberg is your leader. Encourage, support and follow her.

Educate yourself with reliable information. Avoid politics with BBC.com. The AAAS journal SCIENCE (sciencemag.org) has readable summaries at the front of each issue.

Nearly every scientist in the U.S. is a member of AAAS, ensuring close attention to accuracy. Get your library to subscribe.

— George Bakken, Terre Haute

Trump creates his own value system

From February 1910 to February 2019 many 11-year-old boys swore an oath in part to be “morally straight.” From 2019 to the present the same oath in part included both 11-year-old boys and girls entering the Scout program. 

A question remains as to how a child of such tender years could accomplish such an enormous task. Credit as to said issue must be given to the child’s parents, church, school and elders in aiding a child to recognize the difference between right and wrong and to act accordingly: not a difficult lesson, but a lesson to be learned and included in one’s daily life.

To discern morality has been in a philosophical quagmire from the time of the ancients. Many much brighter than this writer have forgotten more on the subject of morality than is hidden in my mind’s reflection. Seemingly in a technological-driven society that known or perceived by an 11-year-old to be morally straight either is no more in fashion or not relevant based upon a current need and thereby not reconciled. 

Thus morality and its dualistic opposite immorality are inter-exchanged like a new breeze blown across the quagmire. It is as if morality has given way to amorality that has no concern with rightness of an issue presented. The metaphor that comes to mind is Barabbas chosen by mob rule over Christ on the cross.

By now you must be questioning the reason for this diatribe. To the point, initially Trump was thought to be by definition amoral in his beliefs, conduct, speeches and actions. But it was easily determined that Trump was not amoral, nor was he moral or immoral. 

In 1883, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a treatise on the relationship of morality and humanity in which he detailed the “Overman.” The Overman believed there were no moral truths and basically was able to break free of societal restraints imposed by law, reasonableness, rationality, culture or other forms of human emotions that empowered one to do the right thing. 

Basically, the Overman did what he wanted, when he wanted it, and because what he did was right regardless of any opinion to the contrary. Trump, like the Overman, created his own value/moral system. The Greek playwright Aristophanes stated: “You cannot teach a crab to walk straight.” Likewise it’s too late to teach Trump to be or to act morally straight.

— G. Michael Loveall, Terre Haute

Don’t hide sex info from kids

Movies, TV, ads, computer games, and websites all tell kids things about sex and relationships — but to make money, not to educate kids. Some of what they say is doubtful and some is pernicious. We can’t hide sex from kids. But we can choose a school sex-ed program that is on their side.

Giving out plenty of forthright facts about the biology and psychology of sex will earn kids’ trust and respect. When kids know a lot about contraception and disease prevention, they are less likely to get pregnant or sick. When they think of sex and relationships as things people do together rather than as things one person gets from another, they are less likely to pressure each other into sex. 

Moreover, statistics show that in some places, the kids with the broader sex ed practice abstinence longer. So even if you feel very strongly that sex before marriage is wrong, broader sex ed can be part of your toolkit.

— Sam Martland, Terre Haute 

Trump just can’t restrain himself

There are reasons Trump prefers autocrats and dictators, for he sees in them what he wishes for himself, total power, no term limits and the ability to silence any critics for good. That’s Trump’s America.

He likes to spend his time posting snarky messages about Congress instead of building support, preferring a good school-yard spat over the hard work of legislating.

Even the Mueller ordeal wouldn’t have happened in the first place if Trump had restrained himself from trying to influence the Russia probe. 

Unlike Lincoln, the President does not see temperance as a virtue, takes all criticism personally and hits “send” instead.

Time to exit, stage left.

— Anita L. Griffith, Vermilion, Illinois

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