Letters to the editor: Sept. 19, 2017


Re: Sept. 12 commentary, “Help Harvey victims. Don’t bring up climate change now.

The author argues that Harvey victim relief organizations will receive more donations the less we talk about the role climate change had in worsening Harvey’s impact. Pointing to recent studies of motivated reasoning, he says that because Texas went for Trump and apparently only 25 percent of Trump’s supporters believe in climate change, fewer Texans will donate if requests for help mention climate change.

The author may be interested to know of data on the percentage of Texans who believe in climate change, available from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. According to their comprehensive data sets, 69 percent of Texans currently believe climate change is real. Furthermore, over half of Texans (52 percent) believe climate change is caused mostly by human activities. Perhaps by talking more about climate change, we may help not only Harvey’s victims, but the potential victims of future storms as well.

ANNA GRAYBEAL, AUSTIN

Re: Sept. 12 article, “Rep. McCaul calls four Texas votes against Harvey aid ‘unconscionable.’”

I read with interest Congressman Mike McCaul’s comments regarding the Hurricane Harvey relief bill and the “no” votes from several Texas Congressmen. When last asked to support relief for his fellow Americans after Hurricane Sandy, I believe McCaul voted “no.”

So, Congressman, you would like all of the Texas delegation to be good Americans and support a relief bill when it affects your interests? But when relief was asked from you for your fellow Americans in the northeast, where was your support? Actions matter. Votes matter — and they say much about character.

JOHN LASH, AUSTIN

Re: Sept. 9 commentary, “My eighth-graders know climatology better than congressmen.

Geoff Carlisle’s account of his students’ understanding of climate science is heartening, but his allegation that six out of the seven Austin-area congressmen don’t understand it may be too harsh.

Members of Congress are far from stupid — and in private, most of them agree that climate change is real, it’s serious and it’s up to us to solve it. They decline to say so in public, however, all too aware that after former Congressman Bob Inglis, R-S.C., called for action on climate change he lost his next election to a well-funded climate-change denier.

I believe the Austin six are smart enough to figure out how to do the right thing by joining the 26 Republicans and 26 Democrats who form the House Climate Solutions Caucus.

HAMILTON RICHARDS, AUSTIN

Re: Sept. 9 commentary, “My eighth-graders know climatology better than congressmen.

Some thoughts for Geoff Carlisle on climate change and hurricanes.

In the world of proper science, statistics are used to show whether there is a change. In the absence of such analysis, we simply do not know. Chris Landsea, an atmospheric scientist, has done such a study and it showed no significant change in frequency or intensity of hurricanes over the previous 100 years.

Until someone updates such an analysis and can show a statistical change, we don’t know if warming is causing these storms to be worse. Scientists cannot yet calculate the exact contributions of all factors that affect climate because they are not yet completely understood. The computer models contain a number of factors that have to be estimated.

Lastly, the 97 percent number of scientists was obtained by abstract counting and does not show their full viewpoints on global warming. You are teaching your eighth graders the official dogma, not science.

RICHARD QUINN, AUSTIN



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