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Don’t disparage those who dare to think differently

Thursday, January 23, 2014
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Don’t disparage those who dare to think differently

All my life I have found myself opposed to the dominant political orthodoxy.

Over the last 40-plus years, the orthodoxy has changed directions but has not changed in nature. Rational debate is not unheard of, but it is rare. Generally when someone argues against the orthodox positions, it is easier to apply a label and dismiss them.

In the late 1960s, when I couldn’t see the sense of the death and devastation in Vietnam, I was either a “hippie” or a “communist.” When many of us were outraged that most rivers contained raw sewage, some changed colors each day, and one even caught on fire, we were labeled “tree huggers.” Since I believed, like Dr. Martin Luther King, that a person should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, there were more than a few that would give me a label that can’t go into print today.

The ultimate dismissal of any protests came in the slogan, “America, love it or leave it.”

Although the dominant orthodoxy has changed, the nature remains the same. Now if I want the government ($17 trillion in debt) to stop throwing money at every issue, I am dismissed as a “tea partier.” If I note that we crafted immigration laws to allow an optimal ingress of immigrants and to give people of all lands an equal chance, and I want those laws enforced, I am a racist. If I notice what the saline is for in a saline abortion, and I am repulsed by it, I am conducting a war on women. If I know enough history to realize that the SAFE Act is not crafted to stop crime, I am a gun nut.

Now the governor of New York has revived the “love it or leave it” dismissal, stating that if I am an extreme conservative (and by his definition I seem to be) then I have no place in New York.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Norman Perazzo

Glenville

Whatever you call it, global warming is real

Gerard V. Havasy’s Jan. 16 letter raises so many objections to the existence of global warming that a casual reader could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking that those objections had some merit.

To select just a few: First, Mr. Havasy intimates that there has been a “change” in terminology from “global warming” to “climate change,” which he characterizes as evidence of an attempt to somehow lead the public “astray.” A simple check of multiple sources (the U.S. National Science Foundation or Skeptical Science websites, for instance) finds that in the earth sciences there is a longstanding and plain distinction between the two terms.

“Global warming” refers to the overall trend of increase in the Earth’s surface temperature. Not all points on the Earth are getting equally hotter — some are getting very much hotter while others may be cooling somewhat, but taken as a whole our planet is warming up.

“Climate change” is a consequence of this and refers to broader effects than just temperature increase, such as floods, tornadoes, droughts, wildfires, typhoons, hurricanes and blizzards, all happening in increasing frequency in areas not formerly prone to or prepared for their current scale.

Mr. Havasy suggests that recognition of global warming is due, in part, to the fact that scientists who acknowledge it are getting more money for research than those seeking to “refute” it. But there’s nothing sinister about this — there also isn’t a lot of research money for those still trying to prove that smoking is healthy or that the sun and stars revolve around the Earth. As evidence advances, unbiased funding tends to dry up for unsupported contentions.

Mr. Havasy asks that we “remember that the climate is always changing.” Yes, but for the first 100,000 years of human existence, the rate of change was markedly slower than it has been over the last 200. It is this drastic rate of change that serious scientists find alarming, not the mere fact of change itself. And beyond the rapidity, there is the sheer magnitude of what is changing: Atmospheric carbon dioxide is now rising to levels that no humans have ever experienced. To the extent that there is, as Mr. Havasy puts it, “plenty of room for disagreement among scientists over what is happening,” the present disagreements are over uncertainty of what the ultimate costs and impacts of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions will be on human life and livelihood, not whether human-generated global warming is happening or not.

Daniel Hill

Scotia

The real Cuomo’s true colors aren’t too pretty

On Jan. 17, Gov. Andrew Cuomo showed exactly who he is and which people in New York he wishes to govern. While speaking on public radio’s “Capital Pressroom,” he said, “If they are extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York; that is not who New Yorkers are.”

Just because my views are different than his liberal/progressive views, I am not welcome in this state? Then give me all of the taxes I gave to this state over the last 40 years. You will accept my money but not my views? Yes, I was one of those fools who worked and paid taxes faithfully to this ungrateful state!

God forbid he should ever become president. I will not be welcome in this country just because my views do not reflect his. Talk about being intolerant! I am proud to say I am a conservative, but not proud to say I live in New York.

Mr. Cuomo, I thought you were everybody’s governor. Who is going to pay “your” taxes when all unwelcomed conservatives move out of “your” state? Then how will you support all “your” lazy voters who don’t pay taxes but unfortunately support you?

I consider Mr. Cuomo’s socialist attitude extreme and not normal for most Americans. His attitude of intolerance is not welcome in this state.

Bonnie Rosbozom

Glenville

Negotiate nukes, and skip the sanctions

I am having difficulty understanding why our two senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are supporting a bill that would call for additional sanctions on Iran. This when we are making progress in negotiations with Iran on the development of nuclear weapons.

Does anyone believe that threats will be more productive than negotiations? If anything, I believe that threats are counterproductive.

If you agree, call Schumer’s and Gillibrand’s offices and urge them not to support Senate Bill 1881 [the Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act].

Bertha Kriegler

Schenectady

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