Love Those Sunken Cities!
I love your January 4 cover. I’ve seen the climate-change mug, but the enlarged view on your cover shows more people more clearly what can happen if we do nothing. Now, how about one of our East Coast, not just New York City and Miami but those pricey oceanfront communities from Maine through the Keys? Then another of the West Coast. People need to see that this would hurt them, not just some remote islands they’ve never heard of.
SHIRLEY E. HASTINGS
Cockburn’s Climate Catastrophe
Cape Girardeau, Mo.
It is not my habit to threaten to end my subscription, but the column by Alexander Cockburn titled “From Nicaea to Copenhagen” [Jan. 4] has tipped me over the edge. I was seriously disappointed to read Cockburn’s pack of lies, deceptions and distortions on climate change.
I have renewed confidence in the journalistic integrity of The Nation. I will definitely renew my subscription. I am delighted with Alexander Cockburn’s exposé of the insane idea that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is driving the warming of the climate.
The other night, lying in bed, I was too cold to sleep. So I threw a third blanket on top of the two I already had, and was soon sleeping soundly, warm and snug. So I was surprised the next morning to find that the warmth from the third blanket must have been my imagination: Alexander Cockburn wrote that “a cooler body cannot warm a hotter body without compensation.” Perhaps his interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics requires that I put my third blanket under the others?
On a cold day, in my solar-heated house, I close my windows. With Cockburn’s new (mis)understanding of the sacred second law of thermodynamics, this action is useless because the cold closed window cannot possibly heat the warmer house. But my house is heated by the solar radiation, and closing the window reduces my heat loss, resulting in a warmer house. Without greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, all the long-wave radiation would escape into space, and earth would be a huge ice ball, as it was long ago. The cold greenhouse gases in our atmosphere absorb some of the outgoing radiation and reradiate some of it back to the warmer earth. The net heat flow is still outward, from warm to cold. Greenhouse gases reduce this outward flow, allowing the solar-heated earth to warm–just like closing my window.