January 19, 2019

Letters to the editor: Bill Maher and Dennis Prager on global warming

Bill Maher: It’s Complicated

Bill Maher infuriates me, but I want to have a beer with him. I don’t even want to change his mind. We all have people in our lives who we love that make us crazy. There is even a name for them: Family. 

OK Bill, what will you have? I’m buying. 

Rafael Guber via jewishjournal.com

Responding to ‘Revisited’

After reading Dennis Prager’s column, I find it remarkable that he spends two pages refuting what the vast majority of scientists recognize — that the Earth is warming and that humans play a significant role. He does so by finding minutia in the overall findings, and citing a few dissenters in the sea of conforming scientists. There are always dissenters, but as usual Mr. Prager takes an issue that affects all of humanity and makes it one not of Right and Wrong, but of Right and Left.

As an engineer and college professor in the field of renewable energy and environmental science, I have long been cognizant of the facts and opinions on both sides. It is clear that the opinion Mr. Prager echoes is that of such anti-environmentally oriented individuals as the Koch Brothers and other major Republican donors who make their money by raping the environment in order to add to their already obscene wealth.

The issue is not one of scientists who agree and those who dissent — it is, as Chief Seattle, head of the Suquamish and Duwamish Indians, said: “The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth.”

Simply said, we are raping the earth and sucking its precious and finite resources dry. If the Earth is warming, that is simply a by-product.

The fact that the Earth is warming and some scientists agree and some disagree is moot. What is clear is that the agenda of the Right, with its oil and money-making fossil fuel billionaire magnates, is violating one of the basic tenets of Judaism: Tikkun olam. Instead of using their vast wealth to repair the earth, the oceans and the atmosphere, and to lead the quest to have us live sustainably, they take the short-sided view of Heres Olam — destruction of the Earth.

Mr. Prager refers to fracking and nuclear energy as viable solutions to our energy needs. He may be unaware that California is undergoing an unprecedented drought, and that up to 8 million gallons of precious water are used each time a well is fracked. Additionally, fracking causes untold devastation to the land, crops, water table and livestock in the areas where it is used.

We would be wise to heed the words of Chief Seattle and put the emphasis where it belongs. If everyone drove a car like my plug-in Chevy Volt, which averages 130 miles per gallon, and made the move to solar and other renewable energy sources, we would not have to debate global warming as it would surely decelerate. Money and lives would be saved as we practice tikkun olam. Then, the Right vs. Left could get back to arguing gun control, affordable health care, women’s rights, gay marriage and other equally unresolveable issues.

Ralph Krongold, Kagel Canyon

Prager responds:

It would take another column to adequately respond to Mr. Krongold. I will merely point out that in his long letter he does not respond to one of the dozens of pre-eminent scientists I cited. Nor does he respond to the provable charge that it is a lie that 97 percent of the world’s scientists agree with the IPCC’s catastrophe predictions.

Misinformation is often disseminated by throwing out statistics without context. On the issue of water use in fracking, I’ll let Popular Mechanics put it in perspective: “Of the 9.5 billion gallons of water used daily in Pennsylvania, natural gas development [fracking] consumes 1.9 mgd (million gallons a day); livestock use 62 mgd; mining, 96 mgd; and industry, 770 mgd.” Fracking is a godsend that, without the true believers who oppose it, would be allowed to free America from energy dependence on countries that loathe us.

With respect to Chief Seattle, head of the Suquamish and Duwamish Indians, who said, “The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth,” I adhere to the opposite, that of the Torah and Judaism: that the Earth does indeed belong to us. As every yeshiva student learns, each person should say, “bishvili nivrah ha’olam” — “the world was created for me.”

The worship of nature implicit in Chief Seattle’s statement and Ralph Krongold’s worldview is avodah zara, idol worship. Without man, nature has no value. Everything in nature was made in order to prepare the way for the creation of man. 

Finally, I would only use the word “rape” to describe the violent sexual violation of a human being. Land and trees cannot be violated, humiliated and traumatized. This anthropomorphizing of the Earth is one of many deleterious consequences of the religion of Environmentalism.