Last updated March 18, 2007 4:03 p.m. PT
Letters to the Editor
DST all year would save much more than energyGiven the early arrival of daylight-saving time this year, it is an appropriate moment to reflect upon the reasons for DST -- both the ones offered publicly and the far more crucial ones omitted. Congress' rationale for extending DST was that it would help save oil (it takes less energy to heat a house during daylight). Notably, oil is an increasingly crucial resource as supplies dwindle and as Middle East stability looks less certain.
However, a far more important benefit should be the one proffered: DST saves hundreds of lives because darkness contributes to car accidents, which in turn cause injury or death. An extra hour of daylight in the evening will prevent many of those accidents and save lives. However, it trades an extra hour of darkness in the morning, so the question is: Is there a net benefit? When does darkness matter more, at night or in the morning? Because more people are awake and moving about at 4-6 p.m. than at 6-8 a.m., it is logical to believe that there will be a substantial savings of lives and injuries by extending DST.
One group that might be negatively impacted is schoolchildren: They are awake and active at 6-8 a.m. when they walk to school (and not as active at 4-6 p.m. when most are home). To alleviate their concerns, schools could start classes one hour later in winter so students would not have to walk to school in darkness.
In addition, let us not forget that darkness contributes substantially to crime -- and more criminals are active in the early evening than in the early morning. Finally, there is good cause to recommend year-round DST rather than switching every half year -- because the change itself contributes to unnecessary accidents and confusion in the week following.
It's a fact, but it's wrong to blame humansRegarding the March 12 guest column ("First Person"), "It's expensive to ignore global warming," few question that the climate is getting warmer. That is measurable. It rose 0.7 degrees centigrade in the past century. The sensationalist media, environmental groups and researchers after grants from the latter have also convinced millions such as the guest columnist that this is because of humanity and that far worse will come.
Others, including many of the world's top scientists, question whether humanity materially influences warming. Among them is Claude Allegre, arguably France's greatest scientist, a member of both the French and U.S. Academies of Science. Twenty years ago, Allegre warned that mankind might be causing global warming, but he has recanted.
Allegre says that computer models have failed dismally to predict climate change and thus to establish a manmade cause for warming. Allegre is contemptuous of those he calls the "greenhouse gas fanatics." He and others attribute global warming primarily to cyclical changes in solar radiation.
Although the columnist doesn't say so, his predictions are based on the greenhouse gas theory. Anyone who assumes this is now the accepted theory in science reveals ignorance of science.
One study shows lowering of sea levelBruce Barnbaum (March 12) warns us that if we do nothing about global warming, the sea level will rise by 20 feet. Apparently, Barnbaum missed the release last month of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Summary for Policymakers, which estimates a 15-inch rise in sea level this century. Although it is possible that IPCC is wrong, there are at least some scientific studies that back up the IPCC numbers. To the best of my knowledge, there are no scientific studies that predict a 20-foot sea-level rise this century. In fact, there is at least one peer-reviewed study (L. Zhen-Shan, S. Xian, 2006) that predicts global cooling in the next 20 years, with a concomitant lowering of the sea level.
Barnbaum goes on to warn us that global warming is causing tropical diseases such as Ebola virus, malaria and others to spread to more temperate climates. Apparently, Barnbaum is unaware that malaria, cholera and other diseases were endemic to large tracts of the U.S. before the 20th century. Clean drinking water, effective health care and the use of DDT and other chemicals eliminated those diseases in the U.S. The fact that those diseases are still endemic in Africa is due more to extreme poverty and lack of health care.