It is difficult to know where to begin in commenting on Dr. Zauderer’s letter (Power Engineering, June 2002, p. 6). I think it can be agreed that the earth is either warming or cooling. Such cycles are an indisputable part of earth’s history. Let us assume that the current epoch is a warming cycle. The real question is, to what extent is the warming influenced by human activity. The IPCC’s pronouncement that “the available evidence suggests a discernible human influence…” sounds a bit like the result of reading tea leaves – you see what you want to see. And what is the most optimistic outcome if the Kyoto agreement were to be fully implemented? Slow the forecasted impact of warming by 5-6 years! And when the cycle reverses, what are we going to do about global cooling?
Dr. Zauderer manages to cover a lot of ground in a short memo. Perhaps I can do the same. Since the cause of earthquakes and their prevention is somewhat uncertain, we should err on the safe side by insisting that all construction in Florida meet stringent earthquake resistant standards – just think of the potential deadly consequences that will be avoided. Likewise, all construction in North Dakota should be built to withstand hurricane-force winds – one never knows for sure! The construction cost increases would be a small price to pay if we succeed in averting a major disaster. Apparently gas-guzzling SUVs are a significant factor. Presumably Dr. Zauderer has never tried to get three federally mandated infant seats into one of his fuel-efficient downsized cars. I guess people who have three or more infants to transport should be told to stay home. Good punishment for contributing to the population explosion!
Somehow very intelligent people seem to feel that they have been uniquely endowed with the insight to solve the world’s problems and to tell others how to conduct themselves. It’s similar to the New England gentleman whose solution to the 1970’s gasoline crisis was to forbid cars to have air conditioners. (Quite reasonable for New England, but people in Florida and Texas didn’t think too much of the idea.)
I suggest that the biggest problem in this world is that there are too many people who have been given too much power over the lives of others. I don’t think it is an accident that the richest country in the world is also the one that has a written Constitution which limits the power that government, however well-intentioned, can exercise over individuals. If 435 individuals screw up, there are 435 unhappy individuals. If a majority of Congresspersons screw up, the whole country suffers.
William J. Ackerman
Electric Power Systems Engineer