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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Environment: Why such a fuss over global warming, carbon emissions?

Carbon rhetoric used to frighten public

What are “carbon tax” and “carbon emissions” in the piece by Bruce Flory and Todd Myers [“Replace property tax with a carbon tax,” Opinion, guest column, June 29]? Are they concerned about soot emissions (i.e. structureless carbon, a pollutant), graphite or diamonds? These are examples of carbon. Maybe throwing a graphite pencil into the air should be part of Washington’s carbon tax?

What Flory and Myers mean are “carbon dioxide taxes” and “carbon dioxide emissions.”

This is not merely an academic point but is part of the way the language of the debate is distorted to bolster concerns about possible human-caused climate change. Ignoring oxygen atoms and calling carbon dioxide “carbon” is like ignoring the oxygen in water and calling it hydrogen.

Most of the public would regard such a communication trick as ridiculous. Imagine getting a hydrogen tax bill, only to be told later that it was a water tax.

Such deceptions do serve a purpose, however: to frighten the public into CO2 cuts. Using such phrases as “harmful carbon emissions” encourages people to think of the gas as dirty, like graphite or soot. Referring to CO2 by its proper name only would help people remember that it is an invisible gas essential to plant photosynthesis and all life as well.

— Tom Harris, International Climate Science Coalition executive director, Ottawa, Ontario

Private companies are better guardians of ocean

A recent guest column [“The great groundfish grab,” Opinion, July 4] attacking the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s proposal to privatize the trawl sector of the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery exemplifies the larger philosophical battle over whether government ownership or private ownership best protects natural resources.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, private ownership invariably does the better job. A resource that is owned by everyone is actually owned by no one, leading to the tragedy of the commons — when everyone tries to use as much of the resource as they can, even when it is clear that this is not in anyone’s long-term interest.

The result is that government lands are typically not as well-managed as private lands. Private owners are far and away the best stewards. Where a fishing industry owns the fishery, they have a strong incentive to sustain and restore it.

Granted, this runs contrary to the historic tradition of open access to the ocean’s resources, but where regulatory approaches are continually failing to preserve a fishery, privatization may well prove to be the only sustainable solution.

— Bob Benze, Silverdale

No wonder global warming is often regarded as myth

After reading the article, “Warming may impede eelgrass growth” [NWFriday, July 3], I can see why many people think global warming is questionable. After that eye-catching headline, the article states “The good news is that overall in Puget Sound, eelgrass isn’t declining year to year.”

Then Jeff Gaeckle is quoted saying, “It’s hard to pinpoint what’s causing the changes.” The article explains, “Scientists suspect development, polluted runoff, commercial fishing and now changes in climate as possible reasons.”

Give me a break — make up your minds!

— Bob Lalande, Tacoma

Comments | More in Energy, Environment, water

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