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Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, July 30

Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, July 30

Your Voice

Climate change talks were misleading

In recent lectures at the Schenectady and Colonie public libraries, Dr. Chris Walcek presented a misleading analysis of the seriousness of climate change.

His presentations were based on highly selected data and a mischaracterization of climate science.

As climate scientists, we feel compelled to respond.

Dr. Walcek began with the claim that most climate scientists are motivated by political bias and then used an unpublished 2003 survey to posit that significant disagreement exists among climate scientists over whether ongoing climate change is a result of human activity, thus ignoring published, peer-reviewed surveys showing overwhelming agreement among the scientific community.

Further, Dr. Walcek provided his own unpublished analysis of U.S. hurricanes to claim that there has been no increase in tropical storms over the past century while omitting published assessments documenting the lockstep match between energy released from hurricanes and rising sea-surface temperatures.

Similarly, in showing that a single European glacier has been as small as it is today on multiple occasions, he ignored the fact that mountain glaciers globally are retreating in synchrony with one another for the first time in over 10,000 years, with few exceptions.

Finally, in dismissing as trivial the predicted rise in sea level, he disregarded existential threats this poses to inhabitants of many coastlines, island nations and low-lying countries such as Bangladesh.

While skepticism and debate are cornerstones of the scientific process, contrarianism for sport and attention are not, and can dangerously mislead the public on critical public policy issues.
Dr. Donald T. Rodbell
Dr. Anouk Verheyden
The writers are professors in the Union College Geology Department.


Garner brought use of force on self

The July 21 opinion piece, which asserted that the death of Eric Garner proves the case that we need to be protected from the use of excessive force by law enforcement, could benefit from some reflection.

The simplest way to guard against the use of excessive force is not to resist arrest. Eric chose to gamble with his life when he resisted arrest. He gambled. He lost. The fault is his.

The assertion that he could not breathe is not consistent with his ability to make that statement.

The phrase “excessive force” can only be given meaning after an event. However, since Eric’s behavior can be reasonably interpreted as an attempt to get the crowd to free him, I can see no basis for the claim that excessive force was used.

I question why family members were not investigated for possible prosecution to see what knowledge they had of Eric’s activities.
Fred Barney


Bell not always the best warning

Regarding Michael Werner’s July 19 letter about bicyclists and bells: I commented on these pages (9/24/2013) about rude unsafe bicyclists that blow past you as if they own the path and I called them arrogant and jerks.

I’m a bicyclist who has passed thousands of walkers over the years and I warn each of them. It’s safer for them and me. Many thank me. Most move to the right. Some give a small wave of their hand acknowledging me.

But there are those listening to music with ear buds or talking to their fellow walkers. Sometimes the walker on the right pulls the talker on the left out of the way.

I choose voice over a bell for several reasons. My vocal warning is longer in duration than a bell and I can tailor it as needed. It’s usually “I’m passing you on the left.” The key information (“left”) is the last word they hear once I have caught their attention. Before I speak, I move to the left so that my position is more obvious.

But I can also adapt my warnings. Sometimes walkers are on the left, not the right. Sometimes I see ear buds and so I speak louder. I do not shout.

If I am with others, my warning includes: “and there are three of us.”

I’m very wary. I look out for those ear buds, the talker and the older person whose hearing may not be the best.

Sometimes a bell is insufficient.
James Fogarty


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