Letters to the Editor: 12.20.18

Our readers' comments

Rosa Cox

East Hampton

December 17, 2018

Dear David,

Rosa Cox, who worked behind the deli at Stop & Shop, Waldbaums, and the A&P before that for 31 years, died recently of a heart attack. Her husband, Santos, was our handyman for the past 27 years so we knew them both well. They were both born in Guatemala, became American citizens, and were married for 35 years A jovial, good-natured man of exceptional carpentry skills, Santos is now handicapped by severe leg and liver ailments and unable to work. 

I recently spoke about them to Joe MacDonald, who’s worked behind the deli counter at these same stores nearly as long as Rosa (Rosy to those who knew and admired her feisty, take-no-prisoners nature). Joe and I are long-suffering Mets friends whose sons grew up here playing Little League baseball together. He informed me that the employees of Stop & Shop raised $2,000 to help pay for Rosa’s funeral, which they also catered and attended, and are raising funds (in a plastic cup at the deli counter) to buy a teak bench inscribed with her name to be placed outside the store. 

I find these acts of generosity and compassion revealing not only of who these people are who tend to our shopping needs here on the East End but of the community spirit that exists in our small ocean town. As citizens, Rosy and now Santos will receive benefits such as union, 401(k) and Social Security, but the real benefits they’ve been blessed with are those of being part of this unique place which, like any other, is no better or worse than the people who live there. And the people who live here, who tend to our groceries, fix our cars, coach our Little League teams, and put out our fires, are too often invisible, hidden behind their assigned work roles. Which of course makes them no less special or essential, as this act of kindness reveals. 

I don’t know exactly where Rosie’s bench will be placed, but it will be a visible sign of remembrance and communal spirit. 

PHILIP SCHULTZ

We Are Grateful

East Hampton  

December 17, 2018

 Dear David,

’Tis the season. East Hampton Meals on Wheels would like to thank the generous community groups who spread holiday cheer — in the form of delicious meals — to our homebound residents. 

On Thanksgiving Day, the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton prepared turkey dinners with all the trimmings; on Sunday, Dec. 9, the Springs Fire Department provided a choice of meals; on Dec. 25, our friends at American Legion Post 419 in Amagansett will be preparing a special Christmas dinner. 

All of the meals are picked up and delivered by our volunteer drivers. Our clients look forward to this each year, and we are grateful to all the folks who took time out of their busy holiday schedules to brighten the holidays for our homebound neighbors. 

If you would like to help, please visit our website at ehmealsonwheels.org or call 631-329-1669.

Very truly yours,

COLLEEN RANDO

The Wisest Course

East Hampton

Dec. 13, 2018

David,

There has been a great deal of rhetoric surrounding the policy decisions made by Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez concerning the lack of services provided to the elderly in East Hampton.

In the patronage system we have here, an area of “responsibility” is carved out by the party boss and handed to a trusted elected official. Although Ms. Burke-Gonzalez was handed control of all senior issues beginning with control over the senior services committee and given a liaison to the Human Services Department by Larry Cantwell (not the party boss), having accepted this was her area of control no other councilperson ever questioned her expertise. They simply let her judgment substitute for theirs. After all why bite the hand of the party boss that feeds and selects the anointed. And there is always a contract in there somewhere. So many toes to step on that the wisest course is not to say a peep. Just let it slide.

The very bad decision to give councilpersons direct control over town departments not innocent Ms. Burke-Gonzalez is at fault here. After the senior services committee recommended a new senior center, much more senior housing, and better medical care four years ago, instead of adopting the policy recommendations and turning over implementation to a professional manager we were left with Ms. Burke-Gonzalez. Every year we had to go before the town board and ask again, “When will you do something?”

Four years later we are no closer to having the senior services we need with a growing population of older adults, some 24 percent of the town population now over the age of 65. We now have homeless seniors living on the street, not because they are drug addicts, not because they haven’t paid their taxes for 40 years, but because they have physically deteriorated with age and suffer from dementia or senility with no public interest whatsoever in what happens to them and no safe housing for them.

That’s right: In one of the richest towns in the United States not a single elected public official will step forward to help when the wolves are at your grandmother’s door. 

Merry Christmas, you bunch of hypocrites.

PAUL FIONDELLA 

Appalling Disrepair 

Springs

December 17, 2018

Dear David: 

I’m scheduled to meet with town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez at 2:30 p.m. today about the nasty condition of the Springs Historical Society and Community Library building.

The structure was bequeathed to East Hampton by Mrs. Elizabeth Parker Anderson. She was a painter who worked in the abstract expressionist style. Her husband, Hank, was in the United States Calvary, who actively served in World War I and later, in a desk job, during part of World War II.

As I detailed in my last letter, the town of East Hampton agreed (in a document signed and dated Nov. 17, 1980) to accept the gift of buildings and land free and clear and would “maintain the buildings and grounds, including all necessary repairs and renovations and pay the utilities.” I have uncovered the relevant documents and can provide the details of the arrangement. The intended purpose of the gifts, clearly stated, was to provide “a place for cultural resources, a library, and museum centered on Springs.”

The property consisted of 1.7-plus acres with structures built in 1793 and enlarged in 1847. Documents also show that the time the “gift offer” was made “the interiors are unchanged with original paneling and fireplaces.” Furthermore, the house is “in perfect running order with an excellent heating system, new plumbing, well, and septic tanks.” The landscaping is described as providing gardens and flowering shrubs that could be “a show place of Springs.”

Therefore, the appalling disrepair and neglect I found upon taking on a leadership role in the organization operating in this historical house was truly shocking.

I enumerated some of the many areas of neglect that need attention in my letter to The Star published at the start of December 2018. I will only recap here to state that windows are broken, the locks don’t work, the toilet doesn’t flush adequately, and there is no hot water in the bathroom so children (especially) are discouraged from washing their hands in cold weather. Also, the phones don’t work reliably and there are electrical problems that the Fire Department recently told us are dangerous.

I don’t want to get into the “blame-game” and the pointing of fingers (whether toward the town or past leadership of the society). I want to focus on identifying the problems and fixing them without further delay.

It is unconscionable that this once beautiful facility, which was donated to East Hampton at virtually no cost to the town, should be left to deteriorate to this degree. It could and should be a prized and proud part of our history and community.

I recently spoke with Eva Landi (now 87) who lived in the house for five years at the request of the late owner. She told me that “every inch of the house was beautifully polished and kept.” She capped her description by saying, “it was a showpiece to everyone who visited.”

Her little brother, Mike Landi (who is a friend and gifted painter), lived in the studio that was a separate building next to the main house. He told me that it was probably “the nicest studio in the area, beautifully furnished, with a full apartment and separate living quarters above the ground floor studio.” Among other things, he described a very beautiful porcelain sculpture of a dolphin (made in Italy) that had a clear agate ball globe about the size of a tennis ball at the flippers. In it was a prized watch-clock. I mention this now only to give you some appreciation for the house and its condition in 1980 when it was given to the Town of East Hampton.

In another letter, perhaps, I’ll tell more of this story. For now, I will leave you with information I got from a New York Times article published in 2003 by John Rather. It reported that “local artists are rallying to stop East Hampton town officials from letting the volunteer Fire Department burn down the former artist’s studio as an exercise…” Eventually, the studio was bulldozed out of existence.

It would be a shame if this pattern of neglect continues. This historical structure, in the heart of Springs, which serves the community, needs rightful support. I hope my meeting with today’s supervisor and councilwoman will begin the path to recovery and restoration.

I’ll let you know.

DONALD SUSSIS

President

Springs Historical Society

and Community Library

Being Returned

Wainscott

December 14, 2018

Dear David:

I just came from the Wainscott Post Office where I was told that a letter addressed to me from the Social Security Administration was returned because it had my street address and not my post office box number. The new postmaster said that they “couldn’t figure out” who I was.

The post office is not responsible for putting mail into a post office box if it only has the street address. In the past the workers at the post office were generally kind enough to put the mail in the box, especially something official like a letter from the S.S.A.

The new postmaster pointed to a box filled to the brim with letters and said that 70 letters were being returned to the senders on that day alone because they lacked the post office box number. Seventy people will not get their mail today.

Just thought I’d let others who use the Wainscott Post Office know that the friendly employees are gone and that your important mail may be returned.

STEVEN GAINES

Hope and Healing

Springs

December 14, 2018

To the Editor:

My anecdotes in this paper’s “Guestwords” usually hover under 1,000 words, but recently I struggled to curtail my “Jennifer O’Neill, Bankable?” story (Nov. 29) to only 1,400 words, forcing me with deepest remorse to leave out much of Jennifer’s accomplishments, good work, and divine ministry that those heroics must be continued unadulterated here. 

Jennifer O’Neill has starred in 36 films since 1968, graced hundreds of magazines and posters with her heavenly, face-of-an-angel beauty, has been the longest contractual cover girl, recognized by the Smithsonian Institution with a 30-year tenure as spokesperson, her absence from that world was driven by her focus on embarking on a sojourn inspired by an agent not residing on Wilshire Boulevard, but rather one with a more impressive business card, God.

Conversations with Jennifer, I’m too enamored to call her Jen, about my deep desire to secure her talents to direct my film, often drift to her current-day deeds that throttle me over the “too many words” count again, although many of those achievements are found on jenniferoneill.com, which include: the author of seven books, most notably her autobiography “Surviving Myself,” founder of the hope and healing at Hillenglade Equine-Assisted Farm for our military, veterans, first responders and families on their path to recovery, writer of five feature screenplays, director of four short films, and directing her own screenplay, “Hillenglade,” to be produced by Kathy Lee Gifford in 2019, and if I’m blessed, directing my film as well.

So many positive missions consume Jennifer’s life these days, I hope and pray that she doesn’t forget our first conversation when a woman with so much passion, so much warmth, and so much concern to lift me up enveloped my soul with kindness, that I will never forget the night I sat on a church’s granite bench and Jennifer O’Neill directed every scene as if an epic,  where she deservedly belongs.

FRANK VESPE

Let Go

East Hampton

December 16, 2018

Editor:

Choice, not circumstances, determines your success. Confidence is the companion to success. Intelligence consists in recognizing opportunity and is the only natural resource. The error of youth is to believe intelligence is a substitute for experience. The error of age is to believe experience is a substitute for intelligence. Tell me, and I may forget. Show me, and I may not remember. But if you involve me I will understand.

 We are not free if we remain ignorant to the policies of government. Growth is painful and so is change. Nothing is as painful as being in a place you don’t belong. We all have differences in life. Let go of what you can’t change and make each and every day count. When we understand the small things in life it’s called maturity. Seek wisdom not knowledge. Knowledge is the past. Wisdom that is our future there are no speed limits on the road to excellence. 

Be self-reliant and your success is assured. Discipline is choosing what you want now and what you want most. When you show respect you get respect, man has a responsibility not power. Men and women fight for freedom. Congress often accumulates laws to take that freedom away. There are two enemies to every bill proposed in Congress, the fools who favor it and the lunatics who oppose it. In the war for individual rights common sense becomes the first major casualty. No life ever grows until it is focused, dedicated, and disciplined. The trouble with self-made men is they tend to worship their creator. If one looks around they would see that all our arbitrary measures and bounds have been set on us by mankind. 

There are three solutions to every problem: Accept it, change it, or leave it. Hope is putting faith to work. Fake people can be found everywhere; they are just like fool’s gold. The bridge making a way for timid feet is called imagination. The past should always be left in the past, otherwise it can destroy your future. Live your life for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away. The future belongs to those who dare, he who loses faith loses all. 

You must listen to your life for it is the wisest teacher of all. Fear is nothing but a drain of energy and not a power unto itself. Trust yourself, therein lies the true power. When the sun goes down the truth more often than not comes to pass. The best way to predict the future is create it. Live by the steps of your feet. 

Many people would be scared if they saw in the mirror not their faces but their character. Remember it is criticism that builds character and strength. Life is short and does not wait for anyone. Mistakes are often the first steps to wisdom. To be yourself you have to accept yourself. Reality forms around a commitment. At times a committee is a body that keeps minutes and wastes hours. Usually there are two sides to every argument but no end. The most vital thing in a person’s life is their mental attitude. Attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference. Life only becomes real when we begin to solve our own problems. More powerful than the will to win is the power to start. Change is inevitable, character is a victory not a gift. 

TOM BYRNE

Our Fishing Industry

East Hampton

December 17, 2018

Dear David:

Two recent letters to The Star illustrate all too well the discreditable state of the East Hampton Democratic Party, and, in microcosm, the reasons why a large part of the electorate, including many from traditional Democratic constituencies, prefers to vote against its own economic interests rather than give support to the elitism and indifference of the Democratic Party, my party.

The first letter is in response to one of mine asserting, as I have repeatedly, that our local fishing industry should not be made to bear disproportionately any economic and environmental costs of the Deepwater Wind offshore wind project.

The second letter, from Democratic Committee member Louis Cortese, attacks both me and Bonnie Brady, the owner, with her husband Dave Aripotch, of a Montauk fishing company and executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association. 

I think our town board owes it to our local commercial fishermen, an economic and social mainstay of the local, year-round community, to negotiate with Deepwater Wind to mitigate any harm to their business from Deepwater’s offshore wind project and to compensate them if harm results.

In the State of Rhode Island, mitigation of harm to fishing interests by any offshore industrial project, and compensation if any should result, is mandated by law. We don’t have such a law in New York. But nothing stops our town board from negotiating to protect our neighbors in the local fishing industry.

The town board openly and persistently refuses to do so, looking instead to pocket $8 million of payoffs from Deepwater Wind (referred to euphemistically as “community benefits”). 

In defense of the town board’s indifference, the letter writer explains that local fishermen do not merit protection from harm because they themselves bear the responsibility for overfishing. I heard this same sentiment expressed at a Democratic Committee meeting last summer. Claiming to be someone who has “followed the issue for decades,” she says she cannot “recall any discussion or action by local fishermen that actually acknowledged the problems or accepted the need for greater regulation.”

I don’t see what overfishing has to do with damage caused by industrial projects in the ocean. Nor do Montauk fishermen bear responsibility for overfishing, which is subject to close federal regulation. But the fact is that Bonnie Brady, representing our local fishing industry, is an active and tireless participant in the work of the federally mandated Fishery Management Councils established more than 40 years ago under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to prevent overfishing.

Worse in the eyes of the writer, we are all of us on the East End guilty of “dishonesty and hypocrisy” on the matter of offshore wind because we have not been sufficiently concerned in her view about McMansions, pollution, and congestion from private cars, beach driving, and energy pricing. 

I fail to see how any of this justifies to the slightest degree cutting our fishing industry adrift should it suffer harm due to Deepwater Wind. Rather, what I see and hear is the same contempt shown by the Democratic Party for the plight of working people, who bear the brunt of losses from globalization, deindustrialization, and technological change in all its forms. And we wonder why they will not vote for us?

Democratic Committee member Louis Cortese’s ire was ignited because I wrote to express my objections, again, to the town board’s failure to protect fishermen, to its persistent violations of the Open Meetings Law and State Environmental Quality Review Act, to the three years since the town prevented the use of the Springs Fire District emergency communications tower that it has done nothing to provide for Springs, to the near absence of action in the face of declining water quality, to the glacial pace of construction of affordable housing, to the sandbags on the beach in Montauk with no plan as to how to remove them as required by the town’s own coastal assessment resiliency plan, to the disastrous failures of the town board with regard to airport noise, to vote-rigging in the Democratic Committee, and to the appalling, and apparently still ongoing, attempt by the town board majority of Van Scoyoc, Overby, and Burke-Gonzalez to give away a town-owned road to a client of Democratic Party boss Chris Kelley’s law firm.

Mr. Cortese has not a single word to say in response to the substance of any of my criticisms. He cannot, because everything to which I express my objection is true. He therefore resorts to attacks on my character and Bonnie’s.

While coyly saying he will not “name names,” Cortese describes both me and Bonnie in unmistakable terms and refers to us as, “S-t” Stirrers (SS): those who manipulate to cause trouble for other people for their own self-serving interests.” And what might those be? 

Let’s assume that Mr. Cortese is oblivious to the irrevocable association of “SS” with Nazism, an innocent oversight on his part. To drive the point home, he then likens us to Darth Vader (a Star Wars character of pure evil) leading “a pack of sycophantic minions.” 

Bonnie Brady’s sin? She spoke at the Montauk hamlet study hearing two weeks ago to say that those in Montauk who have to work for a living and then take care of family didn’t have enough opportunity to participate in the hamlet study which does not in her view adequately reflect their interests. Cortese described this as a “bloviated screed” and was particularly offended by the obvious audience approval of her sentiments, which he described as “the most distasteful part of it.”

I don’t care what someone like Cortese says about me. His hatred must be worn as a badge of honor. That he spews such vile stuff tells me that my criticism of the Democratic town board and Democratic Committee has struck a raw nerve. It should. I invite everyone to go back and read online Cortese’s letter, published Dec. 13 in The Star and mine published Dec. 6 that provoked it, to see for yourself what has become of the East Hampton Democratic Committee.

What is sadly on display here is the contempt of East Hampton Democratic Party insiders for working people and the capture of the party by monied interests, locally and nationally, a tragic reversal of the Democratic Party’s historical vocation. 

Sincerely,

DAVID GRUBER

Strategic Retreat

Springs

December 17, 2018 

Dear Editor:

I watch with great interest the back and forth about the Montauk hamlet study and how to address Montauk village.

Climate change is real and has been occurring throughout the 4.6-billion-year life of Planet Earth. What exactly have been the causes and what roles those causes play are the subject of considerable debate among the scientific community. A community I might add that is far more versed than you and I.

What I do not hear in any of the dialogue is a discussion and understanding of the geology of Long Island and the relevance that plays. Long Island is unique in that the island was formed during the last glaciation called the Wisconsinan glaciation. This last glaciation period lasted from approximately 85,000 to 11,000 years ago and created the Ronkonkoma terminal moraine and the Harbor Hill terminal moraine. Together the two moraines make up the North and South Forks at the eastern end of the Island and the glacial Lake Success at the west end where the moraines meet. In short, Long Island is nothing more than loose sediment pushed in front of advancing glaciers as they moved along, very similar to the way a bulldozer pushes gravel into a mound. 

Then around 11,000 years ago the rising sea encircled our fish-shaped pile of dirt to create modern-day Long Island with its south shore outwash plain and sandy beaches and the north shore with hilly terrain and rocky beaches. The highest point on the island (Jayne’s Hill in the town of Huntington) has an elevation of only 401 feet above sea level.

What does this all mean for us today and particularly Montauk, you ask? Simple. Long Island and its underwater coastline is exceptionally vulnerable to ocean erosion caused by four primary factors:

1) The amount of wave and current energy striking the coast of which intensity and frequency are primarily related to storm activity.

2) The supply of sand available for building the beaches or shoreline.

3) Both short and long-term changes in sea level.

4) Human activities in the coastal zone that alter or disrupt natural processes and movement of sand.

What we do know is sea level rise, sea level reduction, severe storms, and hurricanes have impacted Long Island in the past and most certainly will in the future. The shore and underwater coastline are vulnerable and subject to radical change. Should you have any doubt, read up on the 1938 Hurricane, dubbed the Long Island Express. 

It would appear the drafters of the hamlet study, some environmentally conscious community members and the East Hampton Town Board, are hell- bent on strategic retreat and relocation over other possible solutions. Strategic retreat will not be cheap, will have a significant economic impact, and will forever alter the community of Montauk. 

East Hampton Town Hall has no economic policy and plan but rather uses zoning as a default economic policy and plan. The answer to every tough question is zoning by impulse and costly litigation afterward all at taxpayers expense. The decision to place hard structures on the beach at Montauk against the community’s wishes is nothing short of a train wreck. Could the hamlet study be more of the same? If the dissatisfaction with the proposals in Springs and Wainscott is any indication, one would wonder.

With all the urgency to push strategic retreat and relocation, I find it odd that Montauk is being washed away into the sea, but just down the beach Hither Hills, Indian Wells, Main Beach, and farther-west places like Jones Beach are not? I believe in the end this should not be an East Hampton Town Board decision but rather a Montauk one. It is disingenuous to tell a hamlet we care about you, but do not trust you to allow a hamlet to have a referendum vote on approval. My kids often use this moniker: “Just sayin’ ”! 

MANNY VILAR

 

Catastrophic Climate

East Hampton

December 13, 2018 

To the Editor: 

This is my third letter (and last, for now) about climate change induced by carbon emissions. Till I read a letter in the Star, I didn’t realize that our town board has succumbed, to a man, to the “climate change catastrophe” lobby’s narrative. Let me offer additional perspective on the lobby’s intimidating claim that “scientists” are lined up on one side of the issue, with “deniers” on the other. 

An editorial I read just this week warned that human civilization is careening toward self-destruction, global collapse is on the horizon, and our children may live with global disaster. These predictions are based almost entirely on complex computer programs called General Circulation Models or General Climate Models. There are at least 100 of them (doing more or less the same thing). First, they are “tuned” so that fed data from the past they predict the present; this is a no brainer.   Given any initial data, and knowing where you want to end up, you can write equations that get you there. Everything has been staked on these models and the gigantic loads of data fed into them. But please be aware that these models were built, all of them, after the decision to track and predict the dangers of global warming caused by carbon emissions. 

You may have heard of the scientist, by now legend, Freeman Dyson, a physicist, astronomer, and mathematician at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, but also a leader for decades at Cambridge University and Oakridge National Lab. At least half a dozen concepts in science now bear his name; he has been called the most brilliant scientific imagination of our time. So, it is constructive to see what he says about the climate models.

 “My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts. I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry, and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in.” 

“The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.” 

Obviously, individuals convinced that civilization itself, and perhaps the lives of their grandchildren, hang in the balance are furious at Dyson. After all, the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman describes climate “deniers” as “depraved” because some accept research funding from the petroleum industry. Dyson knows what he and the many other scientists who reject climate change catastrophe are up against. He writes:

“I don’t claim to be an expert. I never did. I simply find that a lot of these claims that experts are making are absurd. . . . My objections to the global warming propaganda are  against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have. I think that’s what upsets me.”

Few realize that for more than a decade there has been a Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has published a series of five major reports rebutting at length the reports and declarations of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. Be aware that the U.N.I.P.C.C. was established with the mandate to demonstrate the dangers of global warming.

The widely reported international conference on climate change now underway in Poland was preceded by the usual 1,000-plus-page reports. These emphasize above all the state of emergency, the need to act now, the need for sweeping government controls and regulations — compared with World War II emergency mobilization of the economy — to save us from climate catastrophe.

On Dec. 4, in Katowice, Poland, as the climate confab began, the N.P.C.C. released its latest report, this one a 700-page statement on fossil fuels, since that is the focus of the latest conference. Some 117 scientists, economists, and policy analysts were involved in producing this report. The press release accompanying the report was blunt:

“Each year the verdict becomes stronger and clearer that the scientific evidence debunks global warming alarmism. While the United Nations Conference of the Parties frantically searches for reasons to justify its continued existence, The Heartland Institute is proud to present the science that debunks U.N. alarmism.” Produced by a coalition of nonprofit foundations and scientific organizations, the report is offered to the public free, as a download.

To quote just a couple of key paragraphs from the report’s Summary for Policy Makers:

“Climate models are a subject of controversy in climate science. General circulation models (G.C.M.s) ‘run hot,’ meaning they predict more warming than actually occurred or is likely to occur in the future. [More than 100 ‘runs’ of models by U.N.I.P.C.C. cast twice as much warming from 1979 to 2017 as actually occurred. Climate models are unable to reproduce many important climate phenomena and are “tuned” to produce results that fall into an “acceptable range” of outputs. (From “Summary for Policymakers,” page 3, citations omitted.)]

“The accuracy of temperature records since preindustrial times are known to contain systematic errors due to instrument and recording errors, physical changes in the instrumentation, and database mismanagement, making them too unreliable to form the basis of scientific research, yet they are seldom questioned. More accurate satellite-based temperature records, which reach back only to 1979, reveal a range of near-global warming of approximately 0.07íC to 0.13íC per decade from 1979 to 2016.” (Summary, page 4.)

There are “leading” scientists who advocate the catastrophic climate change hypothesis. (In truth, it is a complex, multiple, ever-shifting cluster of hypotheses that used to be called “global warming,” but, after an embarrassing hiatus in warming, are now called climate change.) But equally powerful in the catastrophic climate change coalition are ideologically radical environmental groups, green political parties, and committed media partisans. The radical environmentalists preceded the scientists in the global-warming space, preceded the scientists in the global-warming-peril theory, and to this day are the major public voice of climate change catastrophe.

Freeman Dyson is eloquent in describing the philosophical essence of this movement. He helps to answer the question, the plaint: You think all these people are wrong? 

“. . .[B]eyond the disagreement about facts, there is another deeper disagreement about values, between naturalists and humanists. Naturalists believe that nature knows best. For them the highest value is to respect the natural order of things. Any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil. Excessive burning of fossil fuels is evil. Nature knows best, and anything we do to improve upon nature will only bring trouble.”

At the other end of the metaphysical spectrum: “The humanist ethic begins with the belief that humans are an essential part of nature. Through human minds the biosphere has acquired the capacity to steer its own evolution, and now we are in charge. Humans have the right and the duty to reconstruct nature so that humans and biosphere can both survive and prosper — the greatest evils are poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, disease and hunger, all the conditions that deprive people of opportunities and limit their freedoms. The humanist ethic accepts an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a small price to pay, if worldwide industrial development can alleviate the miseries of the poorer half of humanity.”

Perhaps we should end on a note of scientific humility. Dyson gives us the words: “I am impressed by the enormous gaps in, and the superficiality of, our theories. Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet.” 

So, in this holiday season, don’t despair for human civilization. What is at stake is not the planet. What is contested, in the elaborate guise of climate science, is the future of economic systems free from statist central planning. Free market capitalism is the ancient enemy of the left, whose partisans know that all their economic arguments have failed and now fly the ensign of climate science.

WALTER DONWAY

Funded Propaganda

East Hampton

December 17, 2018

Dear David,

Walter Donway’s letter to The Star last week resurrects zombie climate denial arguments that were long since slain and consigned to the dustbin. He is reporting on the latest convocation of the International Conference on Climate Change, a group funded by the Heartland Institute, a think tank long ago exposed as a well-funded propaganda arm of the fossil fuel industry. Mr. Donway suggests that these denial arguments and the meeting itself are not covered relates to some universal conspiracy by mainstream media to promote climate science.

In fact, ABC News in 2008, looking into claims by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, consulted with scientists at NASA, Stanford University, and Princeton. The consensus from serious scientists was that their claims were a bunch of “fabricated nonsense.” Mainstream media ignores the N.I.P.C.C. for the same reason it ignores claims of Martian abduction and Bigfoot sightings. 

Last year, Exxon/Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, and BP made $64 billion in profit. Obviously, they would like to continue making that money. The Heartland Institute, before discovering the money to be made protecting those profits, made a lot of money propagating fake science on behalf of big tobacco to suggest that cigarettes don’t cause cancer.

Mr. Donway may be a sincere victim of the 100-plus “think tanks” that support the disinformation campaigns supported as a cost of doing business by this almost infinitely rich industry. I urge readers of The Star not to be taken in; to be aware of surprise. That very powerful forces would like society to continue its reliance on fossil fuels. Their strategy is to fund official sounding groups who will pretend to be science-based, objective third parties. They apparently don’t care what it will mean for our children.

DON MATHESON

Dishonored

Plainview

December 14, 2018

To the Editor:

Dec. 14 was the sixth anniversary of the horrific massacre of 20 young children (and six of their teachers) inside Newtown, Conn.’s, Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

To me, a retired elementary school teacher, it will always be another “date which will live in infamy,” even though it did not take the 2,000-plus lives which led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to brand the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor with that famous (infamous?) phrase, nor the almost 3,000 lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. 

Personally, I have always felt that referring to that horrible day, which I still call “September 11,” as “9-11” was disrespectful, mainly because it helped newspaper headline writers save space, and allowed people to say it with two fewer syllables. It was also a less than ideal choice since “911” was already institutionalized as a national emergency phone number. 

However, when it comes to the Connecticut school shooting, I agree with the Newtown resident who asked that her town’s tragedy only be referred to as the numerically dated “12-14,” so as not to forever brand her town’s name synonymously with this unspeakably evil act. For me, there are a lot of other numbers that “12-14” brings to mind.

First, there are the 20 youngest victims, who were all just first grade students. Four of them were only 7 years old, and 16 of them were just 6 years old. Together, they had only lived a combined 124 years, only two years longer than the oldest human life span ever recorded. During the same month they died, the two oldest people in the world also died, although not violently, and at the very advanced ages of 115 and 116 years old. 

These 20 children, collectively, should have had decades, centuries, and even millenniums of life ahead of them. 

So please let me count the ways that 7-year-olds Daniel Barden, Josephine Gay, Chase Kowalski, and Grace McDonnell, plus 6-year-olds Charlotte Bacon, Olivia Engel, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Benjamin Wheeler, and Allison N. Wyatt were all “cheated” by their way too early deaths:

None of them ever got to celebrate a double-digit birthday such as turning 10 years old, much less have a chance to blow out 9, or even 8, candles on their birthday cakes.

They never got to turn 13 and have a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah; nor did any of the girls get to have their sweet-16 party. 

They never got the chance to graduate from elementary school, much less middle school or junior high school.

If they had lived to graduate from high school at age 18, they at least would have had a combined 360 years of learning and laughter.

Had they lived into official adulthood at 21 that would have meant a combined 420 years of education and enjoyment. Turning 22 and graduating from college would have afforded their mothers and fathers a combined 440 years of parental pride. 

Had they each reached 50 years of age, besides their AARP memberships, they would have had 1,000 years in which to provide themselves with marriages and children, not to mention providing their own parents with grandchildren to spoil. 

Had they been allowed to reach the Social Security age of 62 that would have meant a combined 1,240 years of life, including working at jobs that would have contributed to many aspects of American life.

Getting to retire and earn Medicare benefits at age 65 would have meant a combined 1,300 years of living life to its fullest for them all, including award-winning careers after which they’d receive their gold watches, and never need to worry about health insurance.

If they each got their biblical “three score and ten” years, that would have given them a combined 1,400 years to live and love. 

Given their actuarially average life spans of 80 years each, they would have had 1,600 years in which they would even have had grandchildren of their own.

And although President Abraham Lincoln was not referring to individual life spans with his oft-quoted reference to “four score and seven years” I will take some poetic license and fantasize about giving each of them those 87 years of life, which would have totaled 1,740 years of freedom to live their lives as they saw fit.

And if I could somehow bring them all back to life, I would give them a total of 2,000 years, enabling each of them to become a centenarian, with still good-enough health to blow out, with one single breath, all 100 candles on the biggest and best birthday cake of his or her whole, long life. 

Sadly, the 2,000 years of potential life these boys and girls were deprived of have been dishonored by more than 2,000 days of congressional inaction on passing any common-sense, lifesaving gun control laws. 

But then, they’ve only had 2,200 days to accomplish this modest goal, and maybe they will achieve it by the year 2200. In the meantime, as gun-fantasizing President Trump (“I could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters”) often says about other issues, I can only add that it’s very “sad”!

RICHARD SIEGELMAN 

Have Coming

Rochester

December 16, 2018

To the Editor:

I want to direct what I have to say about the problem of sexual harassment in our society primarily to your male readers. This is specifically directed to the minority of males out there who have ever sexually harassed a woman as well as those who have ever considered sexually harassing a woman.

I won’t preach to you because it never works and because you have no conscience. Let me put it to you directly and clearly: There are more people who inhabit our planet who believe in reincarnation than those who do not.

Many of them are Buddhists. Buddhists believe in something called the law of karma. A popular definition of it is that it says that “what goes around, comes around.” Another popular definition of it says that it means that “what you put out into the world eventually comes back to you.”

The ancient philosopher Cicero was known for defining justice as each person receiving and getting what is due to her/him.

I am here to tell predators/perpetrators that, be it in this lifetime or in a future lifetime, you will get exactly what you so justly deserve, have earned, and have coming to you. The victims/survivors will never have to do or say a thing. You will pay for what you have done to them or think about doing to them. So, think long and hard about it before you act on your evil intentions.

And, one more thing: It is because of you that the majority of us males are often viewed with suspicion by women when our motives and intentions toward them are good. Women are not to be blamed for this — you are.

Sincerely,

STEWART B. EPSTEIN