A Letter to Jim Lehrer

Now that the conventions are over, it's time to put some real issues on the debate agenda

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Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post / Getty Images

Dear Jim Lehrer,

I knew you wouldn’t abandon your fans. As a longtime admirer, I’m delighted that you will be moderating another presidential debate, on October 3rd — the first one, between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Topic: Domestic policy. This will be your 12th turn as presidential debate moderator. Wow.

I’m writing to ask that you put Global Warming on the debate docket. So far, neither candidate is saying a word about it. Yet dangerous climate change is one of the most important crises facing our nation, and indeed, our world. But as with most grave situations, it comes with enormous opportunity for moving the country into the forefront of new technologies and economic strength.

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We are at a turning point in history. If we do not show leadership in cutting carbon and methane emissions, we will lose our moral authority in global affairs, to say nothing of imperil life on Earth. If we do not launch a massive, national Race to Clean Energy — mobilizing our best engineering minds — we stand to lose our position as a global leader in scientific and technological innovation.

We don’t need to hear another cartoonish conversation about whether climate change is “real” or whether the science is “believable.” We need you to cut to the chase. The way we deal with climate pollution has a huge impact on our economy, on jobs, on innovation, on future growth. Ask the candidates: What is our energy future? What’s the best way to get there? How can we be more efficient with precious energy resources?

How do we clean up pollution that is damaging the health of our families?

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I grew up under your tutelage, Jim Lehrer. For decades, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, yours was among the most trusted names in television journalism. It is hard to remember back to a time before the Internet, but I well remember when the only serious analysis of important news we could find was during your hour on PBS. You shaped — and inspired — an entire generation of viewers. You cared about what counted. You showed us how to ask the questions that get to the heart of a matter.

You still do.

You are a father, and a grandfather. You must be thinking about the condition of the world they will inherit. Please, Mr. Lehrer, use your position to ask the candidates a question about a subject both are avoiding, for the worst reasons. You’ve got the best reasons in the world to do so: all the fans who count on your leadership — and your six grandchildren.

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23 comments
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Jill Louis
Jill Louis

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Todd Jensen
Todd Jensen

Warren, why do you think you know more about this than all the national academies of science around the world. The conditions we have seen in the past decade were predicted by the "worthless" models and now they are happening. The effects of greenhouse gases on heating the planet are very basic science yet you think it can't be happening. Check out Wikipedia on Scientific opinion on climate change and let me know if all these TOP agencies around the world simply don't know what they are talking about or are  they conspiring to help with the great liberal plot to run our lives. BTW, how much science training do you have? It would be helpful to see if you understand how science is done.

bzelbub
bzelbub

I have an idea, why not ask the Romney and Obama, what languages they speak besides English? I think that Romney, will be the first Republican in decades to speak French. After all he spent five years there avoiding the Vietnam War.

 And he was also there at the same time that Ayatolleh Khomeini, was hiding from the Shah. So I assume that he was speaking French to Khomeini, while trying to get him to embrace LDS, and that is why even though he now wraps himself in the flag he couldn't be counted on to fight for his country then. Because he is such a great patriot.

TheErudite
TheErudite

Four years ago all the Global Warming activists said we had to do something then or else we are doomed.  DOOOMED.  

It is four years later.   We didn't do what they wanted.  So if we are to take them seriously, then it is too late and they should shut up.

factsmatter3
factsmatter3

 Uh, 4 years ago (or 10 or 20) climate scientists predicted that we would start seeing very significant climate change by 2020 to 2050.  So far, the predictions of the climate scientists about how much global temperature would be rising are coming true (http://www.ghgonline.org/predi....

Kim Triolo Feil
Kim Triolo Feil

Dear Jim, shale gas and oil is hard to get at, expensive to extract, unconventional energy. The rush has caused innocent people like me to leave the "working for a paycheck" life, and pursue "working for the truth". Now that I am enlightened, I need to make sure this "truth works for change" to make urban drilling safer to live near since it seems like a political impossibility to get a ban until it is proven safe. Aside from methane leaks that speed up global warming,  I need investors in shale and stakeholders in livable towns/planet to help me "reason" with the industry, and so I need you to help me speak to them as they are not responsive to me. I live at ground zero for urban drilling. We have about 60 padsites in our 99 sq mile town here in Arlington TX. The following requests won't cover public protections on the huge buildout and the associated human errors or accidents (we had a drill spill in Lake Arlington, our drinking source, a couple of years ago and have had maybe a dozen emission events over the last couple of years that I am aware of)….Please make it a standard practice to always use electric rigs in urban areas.All mud farming is subject to open records of water and soil test results.We need the industry to invent technology to keep the toxic, silica dust on the padsite-those pathetic pillow case looking socks aren't getting the job done.Please add scrubbers to the open hatch flowback tanks during topflow, and we shouldn't have to wait 2.5 years for EPA mandated Green Completions.The pipeline should be in place FIRST before fracturing so that flowback doesn't sit in the ground for months festering some unknown, man-made hydrogen sulfide-like of stale water flowback. The setback away from people should be very far. A doctor who is an environmental tester said that the health effects are being seen downwind from about 1,800 - 2,500 feet.Lastly, the industry should be able to guarantee that the casings will last "on the majority of them", and that the injections wells won't cause regrettable seismic events or migrate their horrid contents eventually into our drinking water.

Kim Triolo Feil
Kim Triolo Feil

Shale is hard to get at, expensive to extract, unconventional energy. The rush has caused innocent people like me to leave the "working for a paycheck" life, and pursue "working for the truth". Now that I am enlightened, I need to make sure this "truth works for change" to make urban drilling safer to live near since it seems like a political impossibility to get a ban until it is proven safe. Aside from methane leaks that speed up global warming,  I need investors in shale and stakeholders in livable towns/planet to help me "reason" with the industry, and so I need you to help me speak to them as they are not responsive to me. I live at ground zero for urban drilling. We have about 60 padsites in our 99 sq mile town here in Arlington TX. The following requests won't cover public protections on the huge buildout and the associated human errors or accidents (we had a drill spill in Lake Arlington, our drinking source, a couple of years ago and have had maybe a dozen emission events over the last couple of years that I am aware of)….Please make it a standard practice to always use electric rigs in urban areas.All mud farming is subject to open records of water and soil test results.We need the industry to invent technology to keep the toxic, silica dust on the padsite-those pathetic pillow case looking socks aren't getting the job done.Please add scrubbers to the open hatch flowback tanks during topflow, and we shouldn't have to wait 2.5 years for EPA mandated Green Completions.The pipeline should be in place FIRST before fracturing so that flowback doesn't sit in the ground for months festering some unknown, man-made hydrogen sulfide-like of stale water flowback. The setback away from people should be very far. A doctor who is an environmental tester said that the health effects are being seen downwind from about 1,800 - 2,500 feet.Lastly, the industry should be able to guarantee that the casings will last "on the majority of them", and that the injections wells won't cause regrettable seismic events or migrate their horrid contents eventually into our drinking water.

Russell Cook
Russell Cook

Ms Browning,

Funny. I already wrote Jim Lehrer about global warming, but that was last year, and all I got out of him was a 2-sentence snail mail saying "I hear you on your concerns about our reports on the global warming issue""

You can read my verbatim letter to him and see his response here:  "PBS and Global Warming Skeptics' Lockout"  http://www.americanthinker.com...

But will you consider the details in what I wrote about there, or will you blow it off in the same manner that the PBS NewsHour and Jim Lehrer apparently blows it off?

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

I have now lived 65 years. And spent much of that time observing how politics works, and how humans function. There is ZERO evidence that the slightly warming temperatures around the world are due to human activity. Every single one of the "scientific" means they use to arrive at this conclusion is pure conjecture. Do you not hear the term "computer models" being used? Do you know what is a computer model? It is first creating a program that supposedly describes how a portion of life works, then feeding in data, having the program's calculations do their thing, and out comes a description. Do you know how often since the inventions of computer models an accurate prediction has resulted: what the computer predicted was what occurred when the real life event actually happened? NOT ONCE. Why is this? For a basic and simple reason. Computers are just sophisticated adding machines. So the only data that can be put into a computer is data that can be described in numbers. Which eliminates the possibility for any information that can't be described in numbers to be put into a computer. And the vast majority of stuff that occurs in the world can't be described in numbers. Here are some examples: love and hate, even somewhat likes; beauty and refinement versus ugliness and unattractiveness; any feeling or emotion you have; any thought or conclusion you entertain; any attitude you have (an attitude being your view of what is possible in any one activity / situation). Which means, for example, not a single aspect of the US's foreign policy can be accurately described as a number.

So the idea that what a computer model states is science, or should be given a millisecond's consideration is sheer insanity. 

There are a plethora of other reasons to oppose the nonsense of humans are causing global warming, but this is enough for one post. 

factsmatter3
factsmatter3

 What do you accept as evidence?  There is a mountain of evidence that supports the theory that human activities are changing the climate - evidence that is accepted by the vast majority of climate scientists.  Yet you don't accept it.  I ask again, what evidence would you accept?  That question is perhaps too general, I think the real problem is that you, and the other climate change deniers don't know what evidence is, and can't separate evidence from your beliefs.  Unfortunately, your beliefs aren't going to change the physical reality that CO2 heats up when exposed to sunlight.

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

All of the evidence that humans are involved are conjectures based on lab experiments. You mention of co2 heating up when exposed to sunlight is an example. Scientists put co2 in a jar, noticed the temperature rose more than when heat (an artificial source, not actual sunlight) was applied, and conjectured that co2 is a barrier to heat, therefore must be a thermal barrier in the atmosphere, hence a contributor to global warming. This is not at all real proof, this is conjecture. 

Every single bit of evidence regarding the human cause of global warming is done in the same way; artificial experiments in laboratories, falsely assuming the results tell us what is occurring in real life. And many, such as knowing historical temperature records from ice core and ocean floor samples, are just made up nonsense. 

Conventional science has been operating under the false premise that results of laboratory experiences (read artificial environments) tells us how real life functions. And they have been wrong over and over again. The only reason this view continues to exist with its lousy results, is because it is the one view that allows "scientists" to continue to reject that there is a spiritual component to every human and every non-human phenomena (including rocks and the mineral world), and still "explore" life. 

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

Facts, I am replying here, because there is no reply button below your latest entry. Of course  co2 heats up when exposed to the sun. Everything that is exposed to the sun heats up. I don't know why I didn't catch this before. 

We just have to agree to disagree. 

If you read the global warming literature, you will find that co2 is not a problem because it heats up, it is a problem because it goes up and lodges in the upper atmosphere, creating a thermal barrier which doesn't allow the earth's heat to escape into space, thereby causing dangerous increases in surface temperatures. 

Inductive reasoning may be accept by the academic establishment as rational, but in reality land it is impossible to discover truth in that manner, or by deductive reasoning. So since conjecture is adopting a conclusion without proof, then all attempts at deductive reasoning are conjecture. Any person who adopts a concept arrived at through inductive reasoning will always sense some degree of uncertainty (insecurity) each time that concept is considered; proving it is false. 

The only reliable form of thinking is to first experience an event, and then ask to receive (from nature) a concept that provides an rational overview. Any such concept that is adopted and accompanied by a sensation of "certainty" (or knowing) is truth. And will reliably guide every person when appropriate applied. Every truly rational concept tells how much worth is present in the result (what value will be provided every time a person uses that result in an appropriate manner), what is the worth of your experience of the process (what benefit did you glean while doing the activity), and what context (map, mind-set, world view, etc.) did you just follow as you did that activity. 

factsmatter3
factsmatter3

 The fact that CO2 heats up when exposed to sunlight is a well established property of CO2.  Your description of the tests that were used to reach this conclusion is imaginary - the scientists are perfectly able to use real or artificial sunlight.  Secondly - nobody says that the CO2 creates a "barrier", CO2 heats up when exposed to sunlight and this heats the atmosphere.  Third, one of the basic foundations of modern science - at least since Francis Bacon in the 1500s - is the use of the inductive logic: results of a specific experiment are used to make predictions about a general situation.  Inductive reasoning is not conjecture.

Ashley Elizabeth
Ashley Elizabeth

Warren, you and people like you need to stop talking about things you don't understand. There are thousands of experts who have dedicated their lives to understanding climate change and it's supremely arrogant to think that you know better than them because you read a couple misleading articles online.

Nobody is arguing that subjective qualities are difficult to quantify. Thank god that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, its chemical reactions, and the products of those reactions aren't subjective. So you can plug them into a "sophisticated adding machine." And maybe a computer has never gotten it 100% correct, but it gets more accurate when scientists figure out the small details of how something was wrong.

Think about it like your weather guy. He knows from Doppler radar that it's gonna rain tomorrow mid-afternoon, but not the time to the precise second. He knows it's gonna cause more than 4 inches, but not that it's  4.75 inches. He knows it's coming from the north and under 10 miles an hour, but not exactly what path or that it wavers between 10 and 13.

Most importantly, he can be as accurate as he is because he understands wind currents, precipitation, the role of dry land vs. ocean in building a storm.

Climatologists are the same. They all know the earth is warming. They know it's caused by human activity. They know it's going to effect some climates differently. What they don't know is how or what those secondary effects are. If this summer is any indication for the United States -- more drought, higher heat, fewer crops, more insect activity, lots more sickness and death.

Excuse me while my generation cares.

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

Ashley, I accept that we agree to disagree. I accept that you choose to believe that conventional science tells you. I hope that in the future you begin to notice how often what conventional science tells you is false, because if you don't recognize that fact, and do the work necessary to find out what is the truth about successful living, you are going to become more and more miserable as you age. Which may not become obvious until after you are in your forties and fifties, but it will be there is it is in every mature adult who continues to buy the status quo presentations. 

I just want to express that authentic caring is ensuring that what works is implemented, not buying into every problem the status quo attempts to get you to buy. 

Be well. 

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

Nonsense.  Every year we all see "computer models" being used to predict the path of hurricanes and, over time, the cone of uncertainty has narrowed as the models have improved.  What path did Isaac take???  Pretty much the one the "computer models" told us it would take.  There goes your "NOT ONCE".  Next the unstated suggestion that somehow human emotional states have any connection at all with the numeric measurement of current and past environmental components (which is the topic right?)....Nonsense again.   The current environmental situation was predicted by those "computer models" you don't like decades ago and there was no need for any variable measuring if you were happy that day or not.  The data (ie the numbers) are what they are....they don't care if you don't like them and  similarly the planet doesn't really care if we survive or not.....but some of us do.

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

Fla, you are beautiful. How in the world can you object to my premise about computer models, when you yourself admit the hurricane models "pretty much" work, which is a synonym for "absolutely did not accurately predict the exact path". And if you don't see the very very very significant difference between predicting a path that is taken by a phenomenon, after that phenomenon has already shown its tendencies for a few days or weeks, and describing what occurs in something complicated like climate change, almost none of that complexity being able to be directly (objectively measured), then you and I have a very different view as to what is reality.

WarrenMetzler
WarrenMetzler

Fla, I am replying here, because there is no reply button below your latest comment. 

In reality land, there is no your or my definition of any word or term, there is only one accurate definition, and all other definitions are false. 

We are not talking about 40 versus 50 miles. Issac was at one point predicted to hit Tampa, and missed it by about 150 miles. The hurricane predictions, which (I don't know if they use computer models) are constantly adjusted. So even though they are just about weather actions, they are highly inaccurate over a couple of day period. 

Your mention is ice core measurements indicates you that have no idea what actually occurred. 

First someone decided that arctic ice adds one inch per year, a view for which that is not a shred of evidence.

Second they decided they can drill into that ice and collect a sample from each inch, and thereby discover previous history information. Which is absurd, because no one who drills a small hole, knows exactly how far below the surface was the original position of any one sample. 

Thirdly they created the lie that in each sample is a temperature record, and a co2 concentration record. Which is totally nonsense. Would you believe that in each ice cube in your freezer is an accurate record of the atmosphere of your freezer at the time that ice cube froze? Plus it is insane to assume the atmospheric conditions at the north pole are indicative of the atmospheric conditions in the rest of the world. If this were so, one could go to the north pole today, take an atmospheric sample, and predict the atmospheric conditions in Miami. And we all know that is impossible. 

So the ice core samples, and humans cause global warming is a total scam. Created so climate scientists can pretend their work contributes to the human race. 

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

It seems the issue comes down to your definition of "work" vs. my definition.  Your position seems to be that a model that tells us the path of a hurricane within a range of 50 miles is one that doesnt work.  My position is that it is working quite well while acknowledging that a range of 40 miles would be even better.  Computer modelling is used everywhere in design, testing and yes in forcasting.  To discount such a widely used tool is just sillinesss on your part.  As for measurement, we do make direct measurements of our current environment.  Happily we can also make indirect measurements of the historical evironment using ice cores for example.  I'm sorry to rain on your parade....maybe next time check the weather forecast...or is that folly also...haha.

Shaun Dakin
Shaun Dakin

Great idea.   Pushing out to my network today !

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

Jim Lehrer is by far the best debate moderator we have seen.  He has a talent for the task but also all the character and integrity that you mention that gives him a foundation few others can muster.  That said, I'm not sure we the people really want hard questions and the hard answers.  ie "you can't handle the truth...."  Sad as it is, the average citizen does not reward the candidate that is brave enough to tell it like it is.  They would rather be coddled, treated like mushrooms and told that we can keep having it all without any cares.