Letters: Prioritize climate change

Johnson City Press • Jul 26, 2019 at 6:00 AM

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Prioritize climate change

In Jonathan Roberts’ documentation on rainfall this year, this “just keeps coming,” (June 25) he highlighted the precipitation records we have been enduring; their flooding and rain-intrusion impacts in buildings can significantly affect households and communities financially.

One notes the accumulation of highest year- or month-to-date precipitation in this century — 2003, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2019 — when the previous respective records were long ago, in the middle of last century. Noteworthy also: between the years of massive rain, Tennessee had three emergency-level droughts this century, according to The Tennesseean, each affecting more than 90% of the state.

Although the National Weather Bureau seemed to see no special reason for the anomalous situation, America’s beloved author E.B. White, in the “Rainmakers” story, spoke about modern man’s “attitude toward his natural surroundings (which is) likely to get him in trouble and even shorten his stay on earth.”

Human-induced climate change and its extreme weather events, now ongoing nearly all the time is one of those human attitudes White found “arresting.” Recent reports on its severity and prognostic outlook, should inaction on its cause continue, could lead to an uninhabitable Earth in one or a few generations’ time.

We have known for decades about the destabilization that would result from the burning of fossil fuels, at least since June 23, 1988, when James Hansen testified on it to the Congress. The 1992 Rio Convention on Climate Change acknowledged the scientific consensus regarding it. It also obligated the 197 signatory nations to “take action to avoid dangerous (human) interference with the climate system.”

Ratified in the U.S. under the elder President Bush, the treaty obligations weren’t honored. Indeed, most of the greenhouse gases now hot housing the planet have been emitted in just the past 30 years.

Halting climate change must become a priority in national policy.


Protect our elections

Robert Mueller gave his long anticipated testimony, and as advertised, it had nothing new. Democrats hoped that there would be fuel for the impeachment fire but there was none.

What is being overlooked though is the reason for the inquiry: Russian meddling in the election. Mr. Mueller said unequivocally that the Russians did in fact try to influence the outcome.

There are multiple bills put forward by the House of Representatives to address future meddling, yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to bring any to the Senate floor. Why can this one man put our democratic process in such jeopardy? This is politics ahead of national security.

Johnson City

End the hostility

It was interesting to see in the July 16 issue of the Johnson City Press that the incident of ETSU student Rettke, wearing a gorilla mask while antagonizing fellow students at a Black Lives Matter rally three years ago was on the same page as the story of the anti-LGBTQ protesters at the 2018 Tri-Pride Festival.

In both cases, the claim was expressed that the Constitution allows protesters to express their views, even if offensive. I noticed that in the Tri-Pride story, the city rightly stated that "freedom of speech is also subject to time, place and manner limitations."

In both cases, the police instructed the counter-protesters to move back away from the people they were expressing hostility to, and I hope the police will continue to calmly control similar situations in the same way in the future.

The story of the Tri-Pride event says protesters were given areas along the parade route to demonstrate. When they moved to the fenced area leased by the Tri-Pride organization, they were asked to move back.

ETSU should also have clear guidelines for protesters and counter-protesters at Borchuck Plaza, and students should be taught how to express their opinions in a way that makes sense, and is not just intended to "piss off" or "bait" others, as Rettke said he wanted to do.

College students certainly need to learn that freedom of speech is subject to time, place and manner limitations. I really hope that as a result of this court case, students will not be given the green light to express unlimited hostilities against others.

Mountain City