- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Chicken Little would love global climate report

The politicized goal of sensationalizing unproven theories about global climate change, part of which is seemingly accomplished by the widespread dispensing of fear and uncertainty to the public, continues with the release of the draft report of the National Assessment on Climate Change (NACC).

The report uses worst-case and often conflicting scenarios from foreign climate models as a basis for speculating about possible impacts of potential climate change. Most readers will miss the disclaimers and believe it is a prediction of things to come.

Without fail, billions of taxpayers' dollars have been and continue to be used to promote a political agenda. Responsible use of sound science plays a distant second to the drumbeat of doom-and-gloom scenarios thrust into public awareness.

The Annapolis Center (a nonprofit organization committed to promoting the use of sound science in public policy decision-making), clarified the current state of climate modeling in its report "Climate Change Modeling: Helping to Understand Strengths and Weaknesses." Critical determinations made in this report include:

* The present state of understanding regarding greenhouse warming using global climate models is tantamount to watching a football game from a plane at 30,000 feet while movement can be discerned, individual plays cannot be understood.

* That global climate models may never be able to predict greenhouse-related change due to the inherent complexity of nature.

* That global climate models are good research and learning tools.

But this important academic tool can be misused to imply a level of understanding and predictive capability that just doesn't exist.

One major unanswered question is how much of the observed warming of about 1 degree Fahrenheit during the past century may be caused by human activities and how much by natural climate variations. Despite the impression given by those attempting to advance one political agenda over another, we simply do not know the answer.

Another Annapolis Center report recently released, "Global Climate Change and Human Health," summarizes what is and is not known about this subject. The major conclusions of the report include:

* Climate change is only one of a multitude of factors that are likely to have significant influence on human health during the coming century.

* Tropical geography, poor water and food security, low socioeconomic status and political instability define the regions that would be most vulnerable to the health effects of climate change.

* The interactions between the environment (including climate and weather) and the vector/ pathogen/host systems (i.e., mosquitoes) are extremely complex. It is important to avoid simplistic interpretations when discussing interventions aimed at reducing vector-borne (VBD) and waterborne diseases.

* Models are often quoted as the shape of things to come. Current VBD models cannot predict the impact of climate change on disease transmission several years in the future with any accuracy.

* The number of laboratories doing disease surveillance on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases is relatively small, and in many places they are poorly funded. Improved surveillance could save lives.

The sensational release of the NACC report does little but continue Chicken Little's dire and hysterical predictions of the sky falling and says farewell to thoughtful, agenda-free driven science.

HAROLD M. KOENIG

Chairman and president

Annapolis Center

Annapolis

Harold M. Koenig is a retired vice admiral and former surgeon general in the Navy.

Tiny portion of surplus could be used for Hunger Relief Act

I cannot imagine what the newly estimated $2 trillion surplus would buy, but how about something that uses a tiny fraction of that and helps about 35 million Americans?

The Hunger Relief Act is in danger of not being passed, even though it is sponsored by a large number of House and Senate members. The United States is nearly dead last among the industrialized nations of the world in its poverty rate, with about 1 in 10 American families not getting enough to eat. The Hunger Relief Act helps the poorest Americans.

First, it restores food stamp eligibility to needy legal immigrants.

Second, it removes a peculiar barrier to food stamp recipients: If the family car is worth more than $4,650, the family is not eligible for food stamps. If you depend on your car for transportation to your job, how reliable a vehicle would that buy?

Third, the bill increases food stamp benefits to families paying exorbitantly high rent. The act doesn't reduce the rent of these families but does make them eligible for increased food stamps if they have to pay more than half their income in housing, as many of the poorest Americans are forced to do.

Finally, the act makes it easier for surplus foods from American farms to be allocated to America's emergency-feeding programs. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey of 26 cities found that emergency food requests increased an average 18 percent in 1999, and the demand this year is on pace to be even greater.

How much does it cost to give this kind of help to about 35 million people? It costs $2.5 billion over five years. The only area where America trails the developed nations of the world is in the way we treat our poor. More than one-fourth of members of the House and Senate have agreed to sponsor the Hunger Relief Act.

Ask your senators and representative to spend one-tenth of 1 percent of the estimated surplus and pass the Hunger Relief Act.

STEPHEN RUTH

Falls Church

Readers salute July Fourth editorial page

The editorial page on July Fourth was perfect. As a parent of preteens, it was a perfect history lesson for them, and a refreshing reminder of what papers may have looked like on that fateful day in 1776.

Printing the Declaration of Independence, the proclamation from King George III and President George Washington's first presidential address on the state of the union in the editorial section worked well together. It is a good way to bring history to life for young readers.

On the same day, The Times published articles about the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the Family Times section. At other times, you have promoted other family strengthening activities and events. This is so important, so positive and so refreshing.

I also wish to congratulate the entire staff of The Times for keeping faith an important part of our lives. During the Christmas and Easter seasons, The Times keeps religious events prominent and makes me proud to be a subscriber. Your competition does not include these events and does not address religious issues unless a faith is antagonistic to that paper's political tilt or unless there is some juicy scandal afoot.

The Washington Post may be a fair reflection of the Clinton administration's point of view, but The Washington Times is a balanced vision of our community, the Washington area and the people who really live here.

Barely a day goes by when I do not recommend your paper to another Washingtonian. Keep your perspective on the importance of good news and refreshing community spirit strong.

JIM MORRIS

Kensington

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On the 224th celebration of the founding of our nation, I commend The Washington Times for republishing one of the most significant documents in our country's history, the Declaration of Independence.

In today's world, the top TV attraction in America is reported to be an inane and contrived "survival" joke. Its losers are even treated as important news material on evening "news" programs. The program "Big Brother" is yet another exercise in vacuous voyeurism.

How meaningful it would be if parents would sit down with their children one evening, turn off the tube and discuss the true significance of this document as it relates to our republic as well as to their lives.

Thanks for making it available as a refresher for all of us.

CHARLES D. COOPER

Springfield

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Thank you for publishing the Declaration of Independence. Your patriotism is unique in the journalistic profession.

RICHARD L. GRIFFIN

Fenwick Island, Del.

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