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  1. Opinion

How to keep us from measuring sea level rise in feet, instead of inches

Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
A man walks in flooded Venice, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 17. Venetians are bracing for a season of floods that is already setting records, a 6-foot flood, the worst in 53 years, one day, which was followed by a high tide of 5 feet two days later. “Those are the effects of climate change,” Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno) [LUCA BRUNO | AP]

How to fight climate change

Rapidly rising concern | Editorial, Nov. 17

As a physicist who is deeply concerned about the impact of climate change on our planet, I applaud your editorial that concluded, “We’ll be measuring sea level rise in feet, not inches.” There is no question that carbon dioxide levels are rising to unprecedented levels, at least compared to the prior 800,000 years. That coupled with warming-triggered release of methane (for example, in Siberia) and release of other greenhouse gases from pollution such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide is trapping more heat in our atmosphere. This increased energy is driving the massive swings in our climate (flooding-drought, record heat-record cold including the unstable floundering of the polar vortex causing so many problems on the East Coast and even Tampa (last weekend when I visited there) similar to stretching a spring further causes wider amplitude swings.

All life on this planet will suffer from the effects of rapid climate change as it struggles to adapt to the new warmer boundary conditions in our weather. We are currently doing an experiment on our only home, Mother Earth, where the consequences are yet unknown but will likely be catastrophic for all of us.

Now is the time act to reduce greenhouse emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.), stop the decimation of our forests (for example, in Brazil which produces more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen) and plant more trees. Trees are one of nature’s best means to mitigate and absorb increased carbon dioxide.

We placed humans on the Moon. We can solve the problems associated with climate change but the longer our politicians deny reality, the more irreversible damage will be done and the harder it will be for us to recover.

Michael Pravica, Henderson, Nev.

The writer is a professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Don’t let your cars idle

Rapidly rising concern | Editorial, Nov. 17

As noted by many, we are experiencing a climate change crisis that needs attention not only by our politicians and leaders but also our citizens. It is true there are many individuals and families taking conscientious action, for example, reducing the use of plastic, conserving water, consuming locally grown produce and much more. Another way citizens can help with climate change and at the same time help keep our air cleaner is to turn off their cars when they are at shopping centers and in parking lots. It is disturbing to see so many people in parked cars with the engine running, not only polluting the air with dangerous emissions and wasting gas; and doing so only for convenience: waiting for someone shopping or getting fast food, using their cars as offices, and just hanging out. This practice is wasteful and selfish. We need the Legislature to address this issue at the next session beginning in January.

Marilynn deChant, New Port Richey

Put a price on carbon

Rapidly rising concern | Editorial, Nov. 17

Carbon dioxide levels are higher than they've been in more than 3 million years, when Florida was underwater. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is currently 407.4 parts per million and rising. Because of all the fossil fuels we're burning, greenhouse gases are causing change to occur not in geological time of millions of years but on a human time scale. Last time carbon dioxide levels were this high, the seas were 50 to 80 feet higher than today, because warming temperatures had melted the ice sheets. All that is saving us right now is the time lag between sea level and atmospheric CO₂—today's sea level has not yet "caught up" with CO₂ and our soon-to-come hotter temperatures. Long-range planning should assume sea level rise of yards, not inches. It won't happen in the next few decades, but it is likely to happen in the next century. [DON BROWN | Graphic]

A picture is worth a 1,000 words! Thank you for the dramatic graphic pointing out the danger posed by climate change. We can still stop this from happening, but we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. The adoption of The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act by Congress would put us on a path to reducing climate change. Among its provisions is a fee on carbon dioxide, which is rebated back to each one of us, mitigating the cost of change. Denial of the risk is not a solution, action at the lowest cost possible to address it is. Pricing carbon is a necessary part of that solution.

Margarita Marshall, St. Petersburg

A blight on our state

The Nov. 17 front page

Nov. 17 front page

This front page sets forth a pretty accurate state of the political picture of Florida’s governance. On one hand you report on the conditions of folks who are incarcerated for years for relatively minor drug offenses, and on the other you report on how the largest developers are able to take advantage of state programs that were designed primarily to help the poor and revitalize downtrodden areas that would help those same poor — all by the hand of our elected officials in Tallahassee. Surely they can do better. These two, as well as the interference in implementing Amendment 4, are a huge blight on our state.

Patrick Mooney, Apollo Beach

A penny saved is one earned

Teaching kids about finances

[iStockphoto.com]

If we want to prepare our children for future financial success, we need to start engaging with them at a young age. As a father myself, I know how daunting these conversations can be, but it falls on us to make savings and money a topic of conversation at the dinner table. According to a 2017 T. Rowe Price survey, only about 23 percent of children reported talking regularly with their parents about money and savings — and we need to do better.

From budgeting for weekly groceries to determining investment options for retirement, financial decisions impact our everyday lives. I encourage you to talk about money management regularly and engage in fun savings activities at home, so you too can show your children that saving is an important step to being successful. Our bankers recently teamed up with Junior Achievement and spent some time at Jamerson Elementary in St. Petersburg teaching third-graders about financial education. Students were also given a piggy bank as a way to open the conversation at home. It sounds simple, but the fact is that financially capable children usually grow up to be financially secure adults. At Hancock Whitney, we believe in the lifelong learning philosophy of financial education — providing people the right information at the right times in their lives to nurture their financial success. Simply put, it starts now at our own dinner table.

Tim Coop, St. Petersburg

The writer is regional president for Hancock Whitney in Tampa Bay.

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