Letters to the Editor 3-15-19



Out of frustration with ideological letter writers who imperil our planet, I write to explode yet more climate-change-denier nonsense. A letter published in the March 8 issue of this newspaper, asserted, without source attribution, “one large volcano such as Mt. St. Helens discharges more CO2 gas in a day than all the U.S. factories in over one year.”  To the contrary, scientists who specialize in the study of volcanoes estimate that globally volcanoes account for less than 1 percent of human-produced emissions.

Here is the applicable data:

Source: United States Geological Survey post about dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gas emissions.

Mt. St. Helens (MSH) eruption in 1980: About 10 Million tons = 1 MSH eruption/365 days

Total annual US emissions (including factories): About 6.8 Billion tons = 2 MSH eruptions/day

Human-produced annual Global emissions: About 46 Billion tons = 12 MSH eruptions/day

While volcanoes have drastically altered the earth’s climate over the millennia, they are not guilty this time. We human beings are. It is way past time for us to accept responsibility. I hope that the letter writer and some of this newspaper’s other readers who question human-caused climate change will care about facts and the future of this planet enough to temper their political ideology and support candidates who will effectively address climate change. 

Small town newspapers with modest budgets cannot afford to fact-check and discard letters containing what is believed to be erroneous, harmful propaganda. That leaves it to readers who care about facts to challenge letters containing assertions masquerading as facts. Climate scientists are warning that damage to our planet from human-produced emissions is increasing at an alarming rate.  We ignore, deny or misrepresent this to justify not taking the necessary action at our own peril and our children’s. Perhaps when ocean waves begin lapping at Atascadero’s City limits, this might change the “What me worry?” attitude. But by then, it will be far too late to matter very much.

Dan O’Grady



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