Is it warming, or is it just too darn hot? | July 8, commentary
No real controversy on climate
In talks on this topic I frequently draw an analogy with cigarette smoking and lung cancer. No one can claim that any given particular case of lung cancer is "caused" by tobacco. Yet statistics strongly indicate a link: Smokers are much, much more likely to get lung cancer than nonsmokers. Likewise, no particular storm or heat wave can be proven "caused" by climate change, but the increasing frequency and greater severity of such weather events over time are the signature of climate change.
The analogy goes further. We are today in the same stage of the carbon emission/global warming debate that we were in the tobacco/cancer discussion in the 1960s.
Among scientists, there is no real "controversy." Roughly 99 percent of scientists who work in atmospheric physics and chemistry have reached consensus that carbon emission is causing rapid global warming. You can still find an isolated scientist who disagrees (some of whom are funded by the fossil fuel industry), just as you can find an occasional physician who doubts that cigarettes are linked with lung cancer. But to call a 99 percent consensus among scientists a "controversy" (which is the Fox News/Republican Party line) is a bit of a stretch. There is at least as much confidence among scientists of a carbon emissions/global warming link as there is of the tobacco/cancer link.
I am a pessimist. I see no drastic change in our energy policies in the near future. It will be no pleasure to watch (if I live long enough) our predictions come true, with the economic and social chaos that follows worldwide flooding of seacoasts and coastal plains. I have children and grandchildren, and I am very concerned about their future.
Harry W. Ellis, professor of physics, Eckerd College, Tampa
Requiem for college life as I knew it July 8, Bill Maxwell column
Training vs. educating
I had a similar experience in college as Bill Maxwell voiced in Sunday's opinion piece. Like him, my education was filled with diverse educational courses including theology and philosophy (at Jesuit University).
I went on to become a university professor and have now retired after over 35 years in the profession. My experience during that time confirms Maxwell's perception of the change in the learning environment from times past to today. Universities are now big business and cater to and compete for students, and this has altered tremendously the learning environment.
However, in my view, the basis for this change rests with parents now sending their children to university to be trained rather than educated. From educating thousands of students over 35 years, I encourage parents to lose the attitude that university is the best choice for all and consider other options depending upon the likes and talents of their children.
Thomas W. Klein, Tampa
Give this man a truth tonic | July 8, Robyn Blumner column
Health care market not free
In this column, Robyn Blumner asserts that Gov. Rick Scott has "a tenuous relationship with the truth." While that may be accurate, the column has its own problems in stating that "Scott wants to leave health care to the free market" — "essentially the system we have now."
Those who advocate government involvement in health care want us to believe that the market is free, but that could hardly be further from the truth. Health care is among the country's most constricted industries. With laws hindering competition, the FDA hampering drug companies, and government subsidies creating false demand, the inevitable result has been rising costs and stalled innovation.
What Blumner calls an "essentially" free market is nothing of the sort.
Jordan McGillis, Wesley Chapel
Bomb ends soldier's dreams | July 10
I was shocked by your insensitive headline regarding the death of Sgt. Clarence Williams III of Brooksville. I expected to read of the loss of a limb or limbs. Of course the bomb ended the soldier's dreams. He died. I sincerely hope his family did not see this article with such a flagrant, sensationalized headline.
Harriet Browder, Clearwater
Put up their own money
After reading about how much both the Democrats and Republicans are raising for their candidates, I can only wonder: Why do taxpayers have to fund these conventions? We don't have money for police, firefighters, teachers or roads but we can give these people millions for a party.
All I hear is how both parties want to cut spending and save tax dollars. Well, they should put up or shut up.
Frank Pedigo, St. Petersburg
TB rages as state cuts back | July 10
Keeping diseases in check
This frightening article fits right into a conversation I had recently with a doctor about the Affordable Care Act. He made a brilliant statement that has haunted me: "This act is not simply for health care, it's against plagues and epidemics. For example, I don't want my kid or grandkid sitting in school or at the mall next to someone with tuberculosis."
Let's protect ourselves, our children and grandchildren. We must provide health care for all in order for each one of us to be healthy. Contagious disease knows no boundaries.
Susan Schubert, Tampa
Property tax may rise | July 11
We're tapped out
I am appalled that Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala actually thinks property owners have any money left in their pockets to start paying higher property taxes. Many homeowners are underwater on their homes. Many others have been hit with a Citizens change that lowers property content coverage, lowers liability coverage and dissolves coverage for structures other than the house.
Our paychecks are dwindling and the cost of medical coverage has risen tremendously. We live like everyone else, paycheck to paycheck, so where are we to get the money to pay more property taxes?
Nanci Walsh, Largo