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Report on hurricanes and warming could lead us astray

Warming fuels storm rift | July 5, story Storm report goes awry The subheadline of this story stated, "Global warming's link to hurricanes divides experts, who call development a culprit." As an environmental professional, I closely follow articles on so-called global warming. I was especially intrigued because I have yet to see a scientific link between "development" and hurricanes.

I read the article by Curtis Krueger. The piece seemed to be generally factually sound and balanced. Two specific climatological studies quoted by Krueger actually concluded hurricane frequency would not rise or could actually decrease due to warming trends. Other leading authorities agreed. I have no idea how the headline was generated. It had little or no link with the article.

We all know that 90 percent of your customers will not read the body of the article, only the headline, and will be mislead by it. To blame "development" as a culprit in hurricane frequency or strength is a fallacy and seems to be an intentional misrepresentation.

Tens of thousands of atmospheric and environmental scientists reject the notion that global warming is primarily caused by humans. The science does not support the assumption that man is responsible for this natural cycle. Hamstringing our economy with unjustified "anti-global warming" restraints or blaming "development" is not warranted.

John Goolsby, Tampa

Shocking developments

In her Feb. 9, 2007, column, Ellen Goodman (and she is far from alone) compared skeptics of man-made global warming to "Holocaust deniers." Thanks to Goodman, Al Gore, the United Nations, et al., orthodoxy now demands that everything from Hurricane Katrina to hemorrhoidal itching be attributed to man-made global warming.

Thus, I was shocked to see your deferential reference to NOAA researcher Stanley Goldenberg's article in the journal Science poo-pooing the hurricane connection, and doubly stunned by your nonvenomous mention that Goldenberg is a skeptic on man-made global warming!

Please don't ever dare cite NASA's satellite data indicating that the Earth's latest warming/cooling cycle appears to have actually peaked a decade ago — I may have a heart attack!

Gary P. Posner, Tampa

We can all do our part by driving green

There is talk of lowering the speed limit to 55 mph. We could maybe avoid this limitation — although it would help even more — if we would all choose to drive green. We are free to do this. It is a quiet response that will ease some of our problems. It is an individual way to help.

Driving green is harder than it seems. Here are a few ideas: Obey all posted speed limits, maintain vehicle (tire pressure, tune-ups, etc.), consolidate and plan trips, perform economical starts and stops (a light foot), remove unnecessary weight from the vehicle, leave the right lane open at lights when practical for right-turners.

We have been given few good choices for green vehicles (shame on you "Detroit"), but if you need a new vehicle, get it as green as you can. Meanwhile drive green for our team.

Joel Burki, St. Petersburg

Ethanol: a foolish fuel

Since 2006, Congress has required that 4-billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be added to the nation's gasoline supplies. It further demands an increase to 15-billion gallons by 2015. The legislators say the goal is to reduce dependency on foreign oil while at the same time improve the environment.

It was a terrible decision.

Farmers have responded by planting record corn crops and reducing planting of soybeans, oats and other agricultural staples. Bearing the brunt are American consumers with significantly increasing food prices at their local supermarkets and fuel at the pump.

Don't let anyone tell you the 10 percent addition of ethanol to gasoline won't affect your gas mileage. I own an economical 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt that has been consistently averaging 29 to 30 mpg in city driving and up to 36 mpg on the highway.

I have checked my mpg every fill-up since I purchased the car new. Now that my gasoline supplier has included the 10 percent ethanol, my mileage for local driving has dropped around 10 percent to 26 mpg.

I now use more fuel rather than less.

John Tischner, Dunedin

Bus seats filling up fast | July 6, story

Keep buses rolling

I don't understand the mentality of the powers that be. First they tell us to use public transportation in an effort to save gas, then they tell us they are cutting back on buses due to the high cost of fuel.

If this is not idiocy, then I don't know what is. They should raise the bus fare if they have to. It will still be cheaper than buying gas. Wake up folks: Do the right thing.

Henry Reiss, St. Petersburg

Advocate goes from nature to nuclear | July 7, story

A nuclear huckster

This article failed to mention that Patrick Moore is a paid front man for the nuclear power industry, bankrolled by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the leading nuclear power lobbying firm, or that the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition is also fully funded by NEI. Moore has now spent more of his life working as a paid cheerleader for the logging, mining, and nuclear power industries than he did with Greenpeace, which hardly qualifies him as an environmental activist.

During his tenure with Greenpeace, Moore wrote: "Nuclear power plants are, next to nuclear warheads themselves, the most dangerous devices that man has ever created. Their construction and proliferation is the most irresponsible, in fact the most criminal, act ever to have taken place on this planet."

Don't you think that any of this might just be a bit relevant?

In the April 16, 2004, edition of the Austin Chronicle, William Adler detailed how NEI ghostwrites op-ed articles for "academic experts who prostitute their reputations and those of their universities" for publication under their names. Now that's real journalism.

Emmet Bondurant, Clearwater

Court discards casino accord | July 4, story

Get this fixed

The sooner the Legislature gets on board to approve the compact with the Seminole Tribe, the better. Where else will the state receive the millions of dollars needed by the citizens of Florida? In light of all the budget cuts, this is a no-brainer.

Considering the fact that there is every conceivable kind of gambling going on in the state — lotteries, horse racing, legal and illegal gambling — people are going to do it.

I can't believe the head-in-the-sand attitude of the naysayers, unless of course certain vested interests in Orlando and other lobbyists can hold such sway over common sense.

Ray Samori, Clearwater

Put Medicare fraudsters on trial | July 10, editorial

All are needed to fight fraud

Congratulations on your editorial on Medicare fraud. However, there is much more to be said regarding ways to mitigate the fraud. As a volunteer for the SMP (Senior Medicare and Medicaid Patrol) Project, I have given many presentations and attended any number of health fairs to spread the word regarding waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare program. Without getting into too much detail, we need more than government action to fix the problem. The providers, the beneficiaries and the government must work together.

From the perspective of the beneficiaries, we ask one simple thing. When they get their Medical Summary Notice (MSN), they should review it for accuracy. Compare it with their calendar to see if they were getting services the day the charges are ascribed to. Are the providers correct and are the procedures performed/benefits received accurate? If there is any discrepancy we advise them to call the provider and straighten it out. If they don't get satisfaction they should call SMP at 1-866-357-6677 and report their concerns, anonymously if they wish. An investigation is then initiated.

Our aspirational goal is for a perfect system with no mistakes, shady dealings or crookedness, and only through our combined vigilance can we hope to turn the tide. Public awareness is one of the keys and I hope that the Times will continue this public service.

Sheldon Schwartz, St. Petersburg

JWB needs our support

Back in 1990 I wrote a letter to the Times urging my fellow senior citizens to support the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board's effort to pass an increase in its tax millage to support its many programs in aid to children.

JWB (founded in 1946) has been known nationally for its success in using public funding to establish and maintain numerous and varied children's programs.

Once again this agency is faced with both new and ongoing problems, including the need for additional funding, which, together with the organization's professional expertise, can help to solve these problems. Given the current economic situation, there are no easy solutions.

I agree with Pinellas Commissioner and JWB board member Ken Welch, who says that people look differently at children's programs. Through many years I have found that while people may object to some taxes, they are apt to look favorably on those used to enhance the lives of children.

So, may I again urge my fellow citizens (senior and all) to support JWB as they work out the best possible solution to the present difficult situation. Their efforts to provide better lives for our neediest young citizens will make life better for our entire community.

Once every 18 years is not too often for me to ask this of you.

Karen Stevens, St. Petersburg

Rays' impact on economy under review July 10, story

Areas of stadium study

It is fantastic to read about all of the economic impact studies that have been or are being done to determine if baseball is good for St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. My question is, Why is this being done now instead of when the stadium topic first came up? This should have been part of the due diligence required of our elected officials in pursuing the stadium proposal. To be fair to the county, they were not part of the original talks and hence did not have the time to perform the studies. But the city has been involved in the issue for more than a year and has had ample time to do a good economic impact study.

There is little doubt that having baseball brings some measure of economic impact to the city and county. What is now harder to define is the difference between the current economic impact and what the economic impact would be with a new stadium. This is made more difficult by the fact that the Rays are having a winning season, and we are seeing increased attendance and therefore increased economic impact. This raises questions about any study, such as:

If the Rays keep winning, will a new stadium increase the economic impact significantly?

Will the economic impact be sufficient to justify a new stadium?

Will the study focus on alternatives to a new stadium that will increase attendance and the economic impact?

Michael Logan, St. Petersburg

Wondering about winning

Am I the only person who questions this? The Tampa Bay Rays have lost for many years, but once discussions of a new stadium are in the works, they are top in the league. Doesn't it make you wonder why?

Don't get me wrong, I think their record is fantastic, but I find it hard to understand why now they are playing so well. Coincidence? For some reason, I don't believe so.

Lynn Friedman, Pinellas Park

Clintons deserve better

I always thought cartoons — even political cartoons — were intended to provide some degree of amusement. However, over the past 10 months, Pat Oliphant's have sunk deeper and deeper into ridiculing and maligning former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton. One has to wonder: Is he, through his great talent, revealing some deeply held resentment (political or personal) against the Clintons?

Please, show some respect for this former first family that many readers greatly revere!

Grace Erdman, Belleair Bluffs

Enough already | July 8, John Fleming column

An audience favorite

In his nonpreview preview of our current Jaeb Theater Forever Plaid production, your critic John Fleming asks, "again?"

The short answer is yes, Forever Plaid again, from now until Aug. 17.

Everyone knows how much John, who is a perceptive and passionate critic, loves Stephen Sondheim. (We love Sondheim, too.) But that's no excuse for John to show such disrespect to this poignant, heartwarming show or the audiences who throng to see it. Giving people what they want — what a concept.

Additionally, John challenges us to take more artistic risks with our programming. With five performance spaces and more than 800 performances a year, we take plenty of calculated risks. For example, we produce a nationally respected grand opera series, something virtually no performing arts center does, and that takes a huge amount of commitment, staffing and funding.

As a fiscally responsible nonprofit organization, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center always must balance the commercial with more mission-based programming. Success with Broadway and the Jaeb shows allows us to bring in modern dance and drama and world music.

In a final shot, John accuses us of "trying to appeal to people who never go to the theater." On that count, in some instances, we plead guilty as charged. And we're proud of it.

Judy Lisi, president and CEO, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa

House flippers flopping | July 6, story

Driven by greed

That's what is wrong with America today. The house with the white picket fence isn't enough anymore. We have to have more. And more. And more.

Mark Lepzinski's $112,000-a-year job wasn't enough either and for lots of people like him. Don't get me wrong. It's not bad to want more, but that much? Greed. Pure greed.

Kathleen Jones, New Port Richey

Living room | July 5, Homes section story

Heartwarming house

I really wanted to thank home builder Mike Shrenk from New Millennial Homes for building a home for disabled troops returning from war, or for any disabled veteran or individual with special needs.

I am a 40-something-year-old veteran myself, and it really makes me proud to read about his efforts to make their lives easier. There is such a huge need for homes that are affordable for returning vets and especially those built to such a high standard.

Also, I commend Shrenk and his design team for seeking out Wally Dutcher, an advocate for the disabled, for help to guide the building plans. Mike Shrenk's kindness to our veterans and support of them have touched my heart.

Renee Reier, Clearwater

Report on hurricanes and warming could lead us astray 07/11/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 13, 2008 8:16pm]
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