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Sea level rise and the government shutdown in Thursday's Forum

Staff Report • Oct 17, 2013 at 8:36 AM

It should be a concern to every citizen of Johnson City that the representative we elected to serve us in the United States Congress does not seem to understand the laws he has sworn under oath to obey. Despite the fact that he and his Republican colleagues do not like the Affordable Care Act, it is the law of the land.If the Congress wishes to change the law it must introduce legislation that states: “The Affordable Care Act is repealed in its entirety.” The law must then be approved by the Senate and go to the White House for the president’s signature. That is how the Affordable Care Act was passed in the first place. That is how laws are passed in this democracy.To hold the nation hostage by shutting down the government because you don’t like the law is blackmail, which in the real world outside of the beltway is a felony.JAMES M. TURNBULLJonesboroughGovernment ‘shutdown’It was certainly interesting reading C.E. Sherrod’s recent letter in the Press. Sherrod definitely seems upset about the cause of the current shutdown of the federal government. Perhaps a few facts are in order.Government services are by no means shut down, unless you are a war veteran seeking to view a memorial built in your honor or had your heart set on visiting Acadia National Park this week. The Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Post Office and armed forces, as well as the IRS, Social Security and welfare offices are open for business. The only federal employees not on the job are the “nonessential” ones, who should not have been hired in the first place. This does not even take into account all the state and local governments around the nation.Sherrod has a theory as to whom is to blame for this terrible turn of events — tea party members. It was less than a year ago, after the 2012 elections, that the Democrats and national media assured the nation that the tea party movement was only a passing fad, which had now disappeared, if it had really existed in the first place. Now, suddenly, Sherrod believes that a weak, almost nonexistent entity has brought the entire federal government to a standstill. Heavens.No, unfortunately what we are witnessing is called de-moc-ra-cy. It is the basic checks and balances that the founders put in the Constitution to prevent an arrogant egotist like Barack Obama from believing that he could rule the American people any way he chose. At least so far, the weak-kneed and spineless Republicans have stood up to the emperor with no clothes, apparently having read the polls that state the majority of the American people want nothing to do with the Obamacare nonsense. Let’s hope that for once, the Republicans will actually do what they said they would during their campaigns.CHARLES TRIFILETTIJohnson City Dangerous behaviorI am writing to express my extreme disappointment in the work of our congressman for his reckless behavior in shutting down the federal government for more than two weeks and for his putting our entire national economy at risk by threat of default. No congressman from our district in recent memory would have acted in this anarchic fashion, certainly not Jimmy Quillen or Bill Jenkins. Nor would such senators as Howard Baker or Bill Brock, who possessed enormous common sense and high-mindedness.No, I think that the current crop of extremist representatives have acted out of motives of ignorance, selfishness and racism. They are ignorant of the fact that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, passed by Congress, signed by the president, approved by the Supreme Court and ratified by the president’s clear re-election.They are selfish because they disdain the serious harm their actions have done to millions of Americans nationwide. And I personally think they have acted out of the old-fashioned racism that still denies the legitimacy of our first African-American president. I think their behavior has been shameful.ROSS SPEARSJohnson CityAdults negotiateU.S. Rep. Phil Roe is awfully quiet just now, almost like he’s hiding from us. I can’t say I blame him after what he and his cohorts have done to us. When he does come with his “wisdom” once more, I’m sure it will be to crow about the rocky start of the Affordable Care Act from computer glitches, the better to distract us. Before he does, he needs to consider a couple of things. First, when President Bush’s Medicare Part D prescription drug program was open for business, the snags and delays were little different from problems getting Obamacare off the ground. People were equally frustrated, but eventually things worked out, as will they this time.Second, Democrats didn’t try to obstruct the implementation of the prescription drug program. Few were happy with the fact that, unlike Obamacare, it was an unfunded mandate. They didn’t like that Medicare would not be allowed to negotiate price, making the whole thing a big sell-out to Big Pharma. Democrats put aside their objections and actually helped folks enroll in George Bush’s program. Now, that’s adult.I think it is critically important we don’t ever forget that Roe, with 79 others, signed that infamous letter to House Speaker John Boehner instructing him to refuse to pass the continuing appropriations bill to fund the government if Obamacare were not defunded. This is his failing and he should have the decency to claim it if he thinks it’s such a good thing he did. But, true to form, it’s those troublesome Democrats who refuse to “negotiate.” Ethical adults would do it differently.DEBRA IIVESElizabethtonSea level riseRon McCarley claimed (in a Forum letter Oct. 2) that media reports of sea level rise trends aren’t verifiable from tide gauge data. I contacted Dr. C.K. Shum, a scientist who uses satellites to study SLR and lead author of a chapter in the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change report, to ask him if McCarley’s position was essentially correct.Dr. Shum’s expert assessment of SLR: “Before the 1900s and for over 2,000 years, the sea-level rise rate is between 0-0.6 millimeters per year, and after the 1900s, sea-level rise is on the order of 1.7-2.0 millimeters per year, ‘based on tide gauge data’ (quotes added for emphasis); and this is clearly accelerated sea-level rise, resulting from anthropogenic (human-caused) warming.”Dr. Shum acknowledged that satellite altimetry data will improve with more planned satellite mission data collection and with continued improvements in models and instruments. He also stated that satellite measurements have been validated repeatedly in peer-reviewed publications using tide gauge data. Furthermore satellite data can measure regional variations of SLR, which are important to address related hazards and coastal vulnerability.I trust Dr. Shum’s concluding statement, “The current analysis of the uncertainties of global sea-level measurements (based on satellite altimetry, tide gauges and other datasets) unequivocally place the estimate of the current sea-level rise on the order of 2 millimeters per year with an error of approximately 0.6 millimeters per year, and the estimate clearly indicates anthropogenic causes as compared to the sea-level rise rate over the last 1,700 years.” He is an internationally renowned scientist. I prefer scientifically validated information. I reject the heavily biased SeaLevel.info website as a reliable source. It offers opinions about sources of information and recommends others that are not peer-reviewed. Regarding tide gauge data, very few people have the time and considerable computing power needed to independently verify reported trends in SLR from those datasets.CAROL LANDISJohnson City