What’s the chance?

Editor of the Reformer:

I always find it a bit peculiar when a denial of global climate change appears in print, a la Spencer Crispe’s op-ed last week ("Climate change warnings simply propaganda," Jan. 24). It’s not that I am 100 percent convinced that global climate change is real, or man-made, or dire. I am not. Even if I were a Nobel Prize winning climatologist who had studied the issue for decades it would be hard for me to go all the way to 100 percent. As it is I am so far below that level of competence that it is dizzying.

It’s just that people like Spencer, and your syndicated columnist John McClaughry, seem to be gambling with the fate of humanity in a very cavalier fashion. Perhaps they are right, and in 100 years our society will look back at the "climate change scare" and compare it to the finest end-of-the-world eschatology of the 19th and 20th century. Our great grandchildren will have a good laugh.

But what if they are wrong? What if the 99.99 percent of scientists surveyed last year who believe in climate change are right, but our society fails to act in time because people like Spencer and John and Fox News and the fossil fuel empire Koch Brothers and the Wall Street Journal have all muddied the waters?

I am not a betting man. If someone told me, however, that there was even a 10 percent chance that I was heading towards a catastrophe I would sit up, take notice and adjust my behavior accordingly. Unfortunately, too many Americans are simply rolling over and falling back to sleep. Our descendants may pay an unimaginable price as a result. And all this while people could actually save big money by insulating their homes and installing solar. Yes, the world is a peculiar place.

Tad Montgomery,

Brattleboro, Jan. 27

Here’s a solution

Editor of the Reformer:

I am heartened to see that there has been a response from the I-91 bridge contractor to the complaints that have been aired recently about hazardous glare when driving through the site ("Blinding lights," Jan. 24). I am concerned, however, that the contractor’s spokesman, Garrett Hoffman, is mistaken about the cause: it could not be "glare produced by sunlight," since the problem occurs at night, and it occurs whether or not the construction area is illuminated. If they have the cause wrong, there is a danger that any solution may fail.

This is what causes the problem: The barrier between the traffic lanes produces a shadow behind it, such that the roadway you are traveling appears dark. The resulting great contrast between the brightness of the headlights of approaching traffic and the darkness of the roadway makes the roadway you are traveling seem essentially invisible.

Now, there are a lot of two-lane roads (of which the construction site has been made one), and there is no such problem of approaching cars on them, because none of those roads has a barrier down the middle. Thus, the light from approaching cars actually helps illuminate your side of the road and passing is an easy matter.

Maybe, rather than making the barrier higher, the solution is to make it lower, so both sides of the roadway are illuminated by the traffic.

John S. Warren,

Dummerston, Jan. 27