Thrown for a Loop

Plus: Hot Topic, Shooting Fish?, Sympathy - Not

Split on Shelley

Thrown for a Loop: I was very angry to read Tim Fleck's feature on Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs ["Overdose," August 22]. What he described was an ideal of what a city councilmember should be: a person of goodwill and concern.

Mr. Fleck wants "political experts" to run City Hall. To me, he showed "Inner Loop" arrogance that was not helpful or appreciated. I called 311 and shared with Ms. Sekula-Gibbs my appreciation for her commitment to the city and people of Houston.

Matthew Tobin

Greenhorns: Mr. Fleck -- thanks for the excellent piece on Sekula-Gibbs. Though I don't know her personally, after 25 years of working in the public sector, I have known many first-time elected officials like her who take a public office without having the slightest idea of its powers or responsibilities.

Here is civics lesson 101 for new councilmembers: The primary function of a city council, be it Houston or Podunk, is to adopt a budget, period. After that vote (which Dr. Sekula-Gibbs missed), everything else they do is pretty much eyewash. Thanks for writing another great column on a subject that the Chronicle probably wouldn't touch.

Dennis Oakes
League City

Hot Topic

Sweaty penguins? I think your article ["Global Warming Is Good for You!" by Dylan Otto Krider, August 15] demonstrates that the conflict over global warming and its potential effects is far from over.

Earlier this year, a University of Illinois study concluded that Antarctica was actually cooling rather than warming, as scientists originally thought. This was because earlier temperature studies were biased toward data collected on the Antarctic Peninsula, where there were proportionately more monitoring stations and where there was a local warming trend. Eliminating that bias toward the Antarctic Peninsula showed a cooling trend. This baffled scientists whose computer models showed that global warming would be felt earliest and most pronounced in the polar regions.

I wrote an unpublished letter to the Houston Chronicle that concluded that the only sure thing was that somehow the global warming lobby would figure out a way to modify their computer models, which were obviously flawed. I was close.

A few months later I read that the cooling of Antarctica was owing to some strange wind phenomena that could be dismissed as a fluke and global warming was going to continue. This just goes to show that politics is far more important than scientific fact and the less people understand about this the better. Treaties like the Kyoto Protocol are designed more to hurt the U.S. economy than help pollution.

Mark T. Evert

The human touch: The argument shouldn't be whether there is global warming (there is). It should be about what effect humans are having on global warming.

Since the last ice age ended 10,000 years ago, the ocean level has risen 300 to 400 feet from the increase in temperature. It will rise 300 to 400 more, until Austin has oceanfront property. We know this because it has happened 18 times in the last two million years for reasons we don't yet understand.

Will the 100 or so years of using hydrocarbons for fuel make a big difference in this trend? I doubt it. It is a fact that nature is a self-balancing act. You push it, and it will push back until things are in balance.

Jim Acker

Mercenary environmentalists: Accolades are owed to Dylan Krider. He has immersed himself in what I believe is an incredibly complex subject. In a short time he has come up with what I believe is quite a useful report. It might just motivate many to think about this issue and what is at stake. Indeed, the stakes are so huge that every citizen should insist that this field get the absolute maximum scrutiny and that we not settle, by default, for a politically defined "solution."

Surely this report does not have the priorities, tone or focus that I would have chosen as a skeptic of this issue, but then again I don't work for the Houston Press.

A subject as complex as global warming can expect to have errors, and there are some in this report. Most of them were minor. For example, my preference would have been to say four "assumptions" made by environmentalists, rather than four "false claims." I should note that rather than being head of the marketing department for Dow Chemical, my role was as head of market resources (primarily market research) for Dow Hydrocarbons and Energy, one of about ten major commercial departments in Dow.

As for Kennicutt's vote to believe "the scientists," the problem is that very, very few scientists talk directly to the public. Most of what the public hears comes from government bureaucrats and nongovernmental organizations, either directly or through their input to science reporters. I would argue the biggest conflict of interest lies with the nongovernmental organizations. They are like a small "company" with a payroll to meet and rent to pay and publications to print, etc. Hence they have to convince their "customers" (those who buy their assessment or position and donate) that they are doing great things for society and that their crusade is right and just and the only option.

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