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WHAT, ME WORRY?
The article "Dark clouds ahead" [J.R. Pegg, Aug. 19] paints a dire picture of air quality in decades to come for 15 cities in the eastern half of the United States, including Chicago. In the National Resources Defense Council report, the predictions are based on the air pollution that causes smog (ground-level ozone) and guesses about hotter weather related to global warming. However, the last paragraph of the article reveals the flaw that ultimately spoils this study: "The deterioration in air quality examined in the report . . . does not take into account reductions in smog-forming pollution."
The study uses U.S. EPA's air-pollution data from the mid-1990s in its model of future air quality. However, data from the Illinois EPA show that in the last decade in the Chicago area, for stationary emission sources, there was a reduction of roughly 25 percent in nitrogen oxide emissions and a reduction of roughly 37 percent in volatile organic compound emissions (these are the two pollutants most responsible for smog). Further reductions in mobile sources have occurred and will continue to occur as older vehicles are retired and replaced by cleaner vehicles (see Joel Schwartz, No Way Back: Why Air Pollution Will Continue to Decline, AEI Press). These past reductions, and continued reductions in the future, are simply ignored by the study.
Emissions levels are certainly more important than temperature in determining smog levels. Why would "medical experts" predict future air quality using guesses about future temperature increases but not use established, credible facts about emissions decreases? One can only speculate, but they have not succeeded in scaring this reader.
JOHN KERRY'S PECKING ORDER
I've been a supporter of and contributor to John Kerry for several months now, and I will support him in November. But my recent visit to www.johnkerry.com, my first since he has accepted the nomination, disturbed me. What I found is that now I am apparently ranked as to how well I am doing as Kerry supporter. My current rank is 84,167th overall.
My rank? If I get to number one, do I get to influence energy policy? Can I be secretary of state? This kind of ranking is exactly the reason I don't want Bush back in the White House. Hey, the more you contribute, the more you recruit, the more influence you have? I thought I was really helping by giving what I could, but I guess I'm just 84,167th in line. I really don't understand how the Kerry campaign can possibly be doing this. What are they thinking?
And on www.johnkerry.com there is no way to e-mail him or anyone involved with his Web site -- or at least I wasn't able to find one. The "Contact Us" link didn't have anyone in Illinois to contact. I couldn't even e-mail Kerry to express these concerns. To me, this isn't a game to play for rank or influence. I thought (and still hope) I'm voting for a man with a different, and better, vision for America than George W. Bush. But you wouldn't know it from his Web site.