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Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’. I have written letters to the Congressman to make him aware of my stance on climate issues, in particular my strong support for carbon tax legislation. While I do not expect a sea change in Mr. Benishek’s position, I have noted a slight, almost imperceptible shift in his responses.
He seems to be inching away from climate change skepticism and toward accepting the reality of climate change, while arguing about an effective solution. And while I disagree with his proposed solutions, I choose to take this subtle shift in rhetoric as a positive sign. The jury is decidedly “in” on the causes and effects of global warming. As carbon fueled environmental disasters and human suffering escalate, we no longer have the luxury of arguing the finer points of the cause of the crisis, and our legislators are beginning to grasp this. We can’t wait for, nor do we need our elected representatives to be persuaded on the dangers of climate change. We only need them to be persuaded on the political will of those who put them in office. Great moments of change throughout history - civil rights, women’s suffrage, emancipation - did not come about because those in power suddenly “saw the light,”but rather because they saw the will of the people and the writing on the wall. It is time for those of us who want change to make change, with our voices and our votes.
Cathye Williams Thompsonville
Climate Change Warning
Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate. Lastly, that the science is not settled. Many opponents of climate change indicate that the whole thing is a hoax or a conspiracy.
This would mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Scientists, the American Metrological Society, and the American Geophysical Union, which when taken all together include over a thousand scientists, have formed a conspiracy or hoax on the public.
These challenges have misrepresented evidence, only selected research to support their position, and used skeptics who are supported by industry. Regarding human activity, back in 1987, while the Reagan administration sided with the industryfriendly ozone skeptics, the EPA administrator refused to cite scientific uncertainty to justify inaction on the issue. His action regarding the ozone depletion crisis, especially the discovery of the Antarctic ozone “hole,” led to international cooperation to eliminate man-made halocarbon. Without action, the ozone “hole” would have expanded to eventually encircle the entire earth.
Regarding climate change being unsettled science, this type of opposition began in 2003 under the guise of “sound science” by a conservative-leaning group funded in part by industry. To the right, “sound science” or “settled science” means requiring a higher burden of proof before action can be taken to protect the public and the environment. This approach has been used to delay or prevent regulations regarding ozone depletion, secondhand smoke, and endangered species. When objections were answered with new studies, they just wanted more and more proof. The only absolute proof is to wait until it happens, but by then it will be too late to stop the catastrophic changes.
Ronald Marshall, Petoskey
Fed Up About Roads
It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen. Of course, Traverse City does the same thing every spring: cheap, ineffective covering of potholes which lasts a few days -- then it’s war zone city again. It will only be a matter of time when the tourists who drive along the bay everyday get sick of these horrific roads and move on. Funny...how this town always has enough money for another parking deck or Cherry Festival improvements, but when it comes to fixing our roads there is no money for that. Of course we know why: because there’s NO MONEY TO BE MADE!
James Weider, Traverse City
Don’t Blame the IRS
I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.” The IRS has to determine if groups are using that definition to disguise political action activity. That was particularly true when, in 2010, the Supreme Court overturned previous restrictions on political spending and permitted nearly unlimited and anonymous spending by corporations and other groups to influence elections. Tax exempt groups spent in excess of $100 million that year, more than double the expenditure four years earlier.
That year, most of the 501(c) groups spending TV advertising dollars did so for Republican candidates. Yet both parties found this an avenue for funding campaigns, as
long as they could say they were promoting “civic betterment.” Those are squishy terms. The IRS is swamped with hundreds of new organizations suddenly for “social improvements.” Legislators on both sides cried “foul,” and wanted the IRS to be certain these groups were legitimate. You might not like the way they tried to do that, or complain that those examined were mostly conservative groups, but you might blame the Supreme Court for opening the door for such promiscuous activity.
Bob McQuilkin, Frankfort