Readers' Letters
by: Michael Smith, Many readers respond passionately to a writer’s claim that there is no hard scientific evidence that man-made industrial pollution is contributing to climate change.

Each of us must decide whether we are going to approach the global warming problem from a fundamentally scientific standpoint, or from some other less rational standpoint, whether it be mystical, spiritual, etc.

In the opinion piece 'Neither babies nor CO2 will harm our planet' (Sept. 24), Ms. Nina Rhea appears to inhabit a universe where the usual scientific principles don't apply. She makes wild, unsubstantiated claims and provides no references for her claims. I was very surprised the Portland Tribune would publish such a flimsy opinion piece that disregards the usual editorial norms required to intelligently discuss a complex problem such as global warming. Giving such an uninformed voice a public forum does a disservice to our planet and its inhabitants.

There are so many problems and errors in Ms. Rhea's piece, I don't know where to begin. Given the space limitation, I will focus on only one, namely the almost hilarious claim that we should increase, not decrease CO2 levels, in order to provide more 'plant food.' Such a claim, if made by a naïve 5 year-old, would be charming. However, it is decidedly not charming when presented seriously in a respected news publication.

The fact is, global CO2 levels are increasing at a rate of approximately 2 parts per million per year. The rate of world CO2 emissions is significantly greater than the rate of CO2 absorption by plants, ocean, rocks and other sequestering agents, thus leading to the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Plants alone cannot control increasing CO2 emissions. Nor could they in the future, given the rampant deforestation that is occurring, unless CO2 emissions are drastically curtailed. This data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific intergovernmental body established by the United Nations, has concluded that global warming is real, that it is occurring at a rate of about a quarter degree Fahrenheit per decade, and that it is largely secondary to anthropogenic (human) greenhouse gas emissions (

The question is, are we going to be rational? In my opinion, if a person accepts the scientific method as the best way, when applicable, to approach and solve major problems, then a rational person cannot deny the overwhelming evidence of global warming.

Ken Bookstein, M.D.

Happy Valley

Parent proud of footprints

Regarding 'Neither babies nor CO2 will harm our planet' (Sept. 24), tell these 'green' folks to reduce their own carbon footprint - commit suicide.

I am off to put my little CO2 machine to bed now. Oh, and in the morning, I will be proudly roaming Portland in my nine-mile-per-gallon Chevy Suburban to run errands.

Chris Traver


Pro-life article is fear mongering

The Portland Tribune deserves commendations for having the guts to print the article about the huge CO2 footprint made by babies (Is having a baby not so carbon friendly?, Sept. 10).

The facts are clear on this. Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote that 'The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world' (New York Times, Jan. 2, 2008). This statistic alone is sufficient to argue for population control.

My parents were members and supporters of Planned Parenthood, and so am I. I thought the issue of deciding how many children to have, or not to have, had been settled by the 1950s. In the distant past, it was not uncommon for parents with a large number of children to allow newborns to die, as they could not support one more hungry person. Using birth control does not mean a hatred of children - on the contrary, it means people can create a loving environment for the children they do have.

It's frustrating to see the extreme view by Nina Rhea, a member of a so-called pro-life organization, using pretend science and labeling Planned Parenthood and the environmental movement as somehow anti-life. This is simply not true. We are pro-life in the truest sense of the word. Rhea's article is just another incidence of fear mongering flying in the face of facts (Neither babies nor CO2 will harm our planet, Sept. 24).

I'm not in favor of women being forced to be baby machines. Childbirth historically caused the deaths of millions of women. Rhea's My View is strikingly medieval in implying that the Earth has unlimited resources to squander.

Marian Drake

Northeast Portland

Leave the Earth for the animals?

So, the Tribune is saying in 'Is having a baby not so carbon friendly?' (Sept. 10) - we all stop having children, no human life continues and the Earth is left to be beautiful for the animals to enjoy?

Cary Schmidgall


Study sheds light on Earth's health

In her Sept. 24 My View essay (Neither babies nor CO2 will harm our planet, Sept. 24), Nina Rhea offers such inaccurate extrapolations from the Murtaugh-Schlax study on the long-term impact of an individual's reproductive choices on the global environment that I had to wonder how carefully she read the original article.

Count me as among those 'greens' who believe that there is sound scientific evidence that unless citizens make responsible reproductive, consumption and energy decisions in the next several decades, the consequential increases in carbon dioxide emissions will be a major factor in the decline of our planet's sustainability.

The Murtaugh-Schlax study sheds much needed light on the impact of individual reproductive behavior on global sustainability, enabling people to make more ethical choices in this area of their lives, including the number of children each family or individual decides to have. Currently many families make this decision based on their ability to care for their family financially. This study offers individuals an important lens for expanding their calculus to a concern for future generations and the health of our planet - a concern that strikes me as profoundly pro-life.

Nowhere in this study did the authors make the kinds of 'people hating' statements or policy mandates Ms. Rhea describes in her essay.

Carol S. Witherell

Lake Oswego

Adoption is carbon friendly

If having a child in the usual fashion is so hideous, why not consider adopting a child who needs a good, green-oriented home (Is having a baby not so carbon friendly?, Sept. 10)?

If the do-gooders truly wanted to do good, that would be a Godsend for a child who needs a permanent home. And for those who ask, why haven't I adopted? I have, and it's one of the best things I've ever done.

Jane Pluemke

Eagle Creek

Humans the most destructive species

Wouldn't it be interesting if the only endangered species was Homo sapiens (Is having a baby not so carbon friendly?, Sept. 10)?

We are the enemy. No other species is so destructive.

Kathe Worsley

Lake Oswego

Greens want to slow the damage

Nine Rhea opined that there is no evidence to suggest carbon dioxide is harming the Earth, that further population growth is not a threat and that greens hate humans (Neither babies nor CO2 will harm our planet, Sept. 24).

She has it all wrong and misses the point. Rhea may assert that 31,000 scientists disagree with the UN global warming consensus, but can she name 10 of them? Does she know whether those supposed 31,000 disagree not with the conclusions, but merely the methodology or extent of the threat?

The truth is, greens do not 'show a disregard for human life while elevating plant and animal life.' Rather, we wish to slow the irreversible damage that we see being done to plant and animal life, if not stop it altogether, and realize that plants, animals and humans are all in this together.

If we don't save one, then ultimately the others are doomed as well.

David Loftus

Southwest Portland

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