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Thursday, April 6, 2006 08:59 am

Letters to the editor

In and around Springfield

We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address, and daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length, and clarity. Send letters to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

FOR MANI, FREEDOM WASN’T FREE Bruce Rushton’s story on the life and death of Mani the hawk was very well written and informative [“Freebird,” March 30]. The only flaw in the story was part of the headline: “After a lifetime in a cage, Mani the hawk had seven weeks of freedom — and now his liberators may lose theirs.” The liberators are not facing a “loss” of their freedom — they forfeited it through their criminal actions. To suggest that their cause or rationale was noble — that is, the hawk deserved to be free — undermines the legal process, as well as the concepts of education and knowledge. Many laws exist to protect the ignorant. For example, it is unlawful to sniff paint due to potential self-harm. Other laws exist as protection from the ignorant, such as many of the wildlife/conservation statutes. As Rushton explained, Mani was not capable of survival outside of his environment; he had become dependent upon his caretakers to provide sustenance, sanctuary, medical treatment, and protection. The fact that he lived to be 27, tantamount to a human living well over 100, is a testament to the excellent care he received. To those who surmise that they would rather live free and die early than live long in captivity (“Give me liberty or give me death”?) need to remember that Mani was doomed to an early demise shortly after birth; when a human removed him from the nest, he was denied imprinting of his species and the natural (as in “nature”) way of learning to hunt and survive. Without any doubt, Mani’s extended life-span was a direct result of the intervention and care by numerous entities and people. I wonder: Had Mani not been stolen from his home, not been exposed to the extra stress and anxiety, and not lost as much weight as he did, how much longer could he have lived? It seems to me that his “liberators” may well have been his executioners. Brett Cameron Mount Zion

THIS IS NO LAUGHING MATTER Jeff Davis’ letter on global warming in the March 23 edition is misleading and inaccurate in several respects. It is true that the earth has warmed and cooled many times. Through the study of ancient ice cores from Antarctica it is possible to compare atmospheric concentrations of the dominant greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere with temperature variations over the past 400,000 years of the Earth’s history. A comparison of the two trends indicates a very tight connection between changes in carbon dioxide and temperature. But suddenly, in the 1800s, as the Industrial Revolution takes off, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations begin an unprecedented upward climb, rising rapidly from 280 ppmv (parts per million by volume) in the early 1800s to a current level of 376 ppmv — 77 ppmv above the highest concentrations previously attained in the course of the preceding 400,000 years. The point is that the rate of change is much greater in recent history than in the past. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after years of investigation and in consultation with thousands of scientists, was able to conclude in 1995 that the dramatic increase in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere over the past 150 years is largely due to anthropogenic (human-caused) effects. Other evidence of the reality of their conclusion continues to accumulate including effects on many ecosystems and species, including humans. Mr. Davis then proceeds to dismiss any political responsibility for this situation, especially that of President George W. Bush. I agree, in part — Bush is not the only one responsible for our predicament. Past presidents and other leaders worldwide must be held responsible for their inaction on this problem. However, as the leading total emitter by far of greenhouse gases, the United States has a unique responsibility to seek and implement solutions, of which there are many. However, the Bush gang has gone far beyond inaction. In particular, political operatives in the current Bush administration were found guilty of not only inaction but of censorship and actually rewriting the government’s own scientific findings on climate change to minimize their impact. The censorship issue became much more prominent in late January 2006, when it became clear that one of the world’s most prominent climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, had been subjected to having political operatives sit in when he discussed climate science with the news media and was pressured not to speak on certain specific issues. I have followed Jim Hansen’s work for 23 years, and I believe there are few scientists who are less driven by ego or malice.
Mr. Davis said he “chuckles” over these issues. Perhaps the following quote from Jim Hansen will cause Jeff to choke on the chuckles: “We have to stabilize emissions of carbon dioxide within a decade, or temperatures will warm by more than 1 degree. That will be warmer than it has been for half-a-million years, and many things could become unstoppable.” Alex Casella Professor emeritus, Physics and Energy Studies, University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield

TIME TO GET INFORMED This is in response to the letter from Jeff Davis, “Ridiculous reason to bash Bush” [March 23]. I ask him: “Where have you been?” Mr. Davis, have you no time to read any newspapers or newsmagazines, watch network news, or even catch a few cable-channel news bites? The debate is no longer whether global warming is a natural phenomenon or a manmade one. That’s old news. The climatologists, geologists, and other biologically based scientists have already clearly spoken out about their general consensus. They have unequivocally stated it is manmade on several nationally organized platforms. Undeniable. Carbon-based fossil fuels burned by factories, utilities, automobiles are the biggest culprits. Why do you think talks of new energy/environmental policies are the hot topic? Jim Hightower, with whom Mr. Davis disagrees, is actually and truthfully right on target [see Hightower, “Greenland is melting,” March 16]. The Bush administration has been consistently and systematically dismantling all worthwhile, effective, and necessary environmental laws and regulations. Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big Timber have paid heavily toward Bush’s campaign. He’s acted as their puppet to assure their payback. No, of course he alone doesn’t have the power to actually stop global warming, but he has repeatedly failed to sign on with other countries to implement new protective regulations. He not only has the power but also the obligation, as this country’s leader, to immediately put forth new effective policies that would drastically reduce these harmful emissions that cause global warming. Mr. Davis, if you can refrain from laughing long enough, perhaps you’ll find the time to catch up on all the factual research. Janet Roth-Shaw Springfield

DARFUR IS TODAY’S RWANDAN GENOCIDE This week, we remember the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and promise one another that we will “never again” allow genocide to happen on our watch. Yet, in these weeks, thousands will die in the ongoing genocide in Darfur, where the Sudanese government and their Janjaweed militias have successfully destroyed 80 to 90 percent of the villages. The genocide has expanded into neighboring Chad, where the Janjaweed are systematically slaughtering targeted ethnicities. The international community has a responsibility to protect people from genocide. The only government to label the situation in Darfur genocide is the United States, giving each of us a unique power to protect. Let us remember Rwanda by defending Darfur. The U.S. must take every step necessary to negotiate an international peacekeeping intervention. Without immediate action we abandon thousands, perhaps millions, to a massacre. Catholic Relief Services, Africa Action, Committee on Conscience, and Save Darfur are organizations working to end the genocide and provide relief to the victims. Each has a Web site with resources on how you can become involved. Victoria Compton Springfield
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