Good example of Letter to Editor

July 18, 2007 at 11:52 pm | Posted in Climate change, Consumption, Letters, Newspaper | 3 Comments

Don’t Ignore Global Warming

In the debate over climate change, the editor and other skeptics have used three general tactics.

First, they have critiqued the certainty of climate change. As this position has become increasingly tenuous, they have fallen back to casting doubt on whether industrialization is causing the changes to the earth’s atmosphere. Finally, there is the position that those of us in the rich parts of the world may even benefit from human-induced climate change.

Their strategy is to reassure us that what we do isn’t dangerous. These arguments are primarily defensive – fighting against a mounting consensus by suggesting that it is “hysterical” and “hype.” But what is it that is being defended? The value under threat seems to be consumption.

The Bush Administration has specifically ruled out changes to environmental policies that might harm America’s economic growth, implying that increasing resource consumption should be our most important value.

But Americans, who make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, already account for more than 25 percent of annual resource consumption. Our individual decisions about what and how we consume should be based on a conscious, long-term perspective about our needs and the needs of others (some distant from us in space and/or time) rather than advertising-induced wants or consumption values we inherited from more ignorant times.

Wealth cannot buy happiness and our current policies are unsustainable, immoral and unfair to our descendants. Consumption for the sake of consumption should be outweighed by even the risk of large-scale environmental destruction.

Jamie Frueh

Thursday July 19, 2007

in The Daily News Record Online



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  1. I’m glad that there is a mainstream paper intelligent enough to publish your letter. It is an open question whether the average person in the US is possessed of a sufficiently long attention span in order to follow the intricate ruse that corporations are perpetrating.

    BTW, what is ACRIM? Is this the experiment that was recently used by scientists to disprove the latest “hypothesis” that the solar cycle is causing global warming?


  2. Dear Payam,

    This letter was not penned by me, but it is interesting, so I posted it, for a number of reasons …

    Several months ago, I did write and publish my own letter to our school board, and a student wrote and published his too. Since posting our letters online, they have consistently been among the top posts on my blog. This may be because these are authentic letters (factual but also from the heart), rather than the plain uninspiring boilerplate examples that are offered as letter-writing starting points by companies.

    Bottom line: our teacher’s job was saved, and it is good to show students (especially the quiet ones) that the pen can still wield power should they choose to use it wisely and honestly.

    Setting aside our own parochial school-related interest in letters, the one I have posted above is a clear statement about attitudes to the world and our neighbours that does not beat about the bush. It gets straight to the point, without acrimony. There is no resort to bad language, no use of persuasive techniques, and the intent of the letter is plain to see: the author is challenging the editor, other skeptics, the Bush administration, and Americans in general to take another look at the way we are using the world, and calls on all of us as individuals to change our approach to resource usage.

    This contrasts favourably with the Daylight Exacerbates Warning satirical letter by a lawyer that I posted and dissected for the kids. (Most of the comments I received on that one, including by email, were from English teachers!)

  3. Dear Payam,

    (Sorry to be so long-winded about the letters.)

    ACRIM is one of the two best-known “composites”, i.e. continuous time series, for piecing together the total energy output of the Sun. The other one is PMOD at the World Radiation Center in Davos, Switzerland.

    In effect, these are two of several competing methods of combining and analysing the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) that has been measured by a number of different satellites over various periods in the last quarter century. The issue arises as to which composite is most appropriate to use to estimate whether the sun’s output has caused modern climate change. As you can see here, PMOD@ WRC makes the most sense to me for an objective analysis (but I hasten to stress that I am not a climate scientist, so I defer to experts on this.)

    Lockwood & Fröhlich chose to use PMOD, and their recent paper, reviewed by a number of expert scientists/peers, and published by The Royal Society, basically closes a case that was closed already, as far as scientists were concerned, but was re-opened by The Great Global Warming Swindle!

    So, it is good that this solar innocence with respect to current global warming has now caught the attention of the press and has spread awareness of this issue beyond the scientific community, especially the week after Live Earth made a few more people sit up and think 😉

    There are a couple of good posts by tamino, e.g. ‘There Goes the Sun’ on Lockwood & Fröhlich’s recent paper and ‘Here Comes the Sun, part 2’ on details surrounding the choice of ACRIM versus PMOD TSI composites.

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