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Separate global warming's message from messenger

I appreciate the tone and tenor of your article (“Cotton in Minnesota? Global warming scenarios often obscure genuine issue,” April 13, 2007), in saying that, while one may not agree with the messenger, the message is becoming very clear: Man has, and is, altering the climate of this planet.

I grew up on a farm in Phillips County, Ark. My education about cotton began at the handle end of a hoe, and pulling a 6-foot Bemis cotton sack. I learned about rice, starting with a shovel; soybeans in the seat of a spot sprayer; and cattle from far too many experiences.

I had the good fortune of a father who insisted upon an education. I continued to farm until my second year of law school, when I saw the handwriting on the wall — a law degree carried better financial security than did a farm. I still own part of the family farm, and my dad lives on the other part in a house about 200 yards from where he was born and raised.

I currently have the pleasure of serving on the board of directors of the National Wildlife Federation, the nation's largest wildlife conservation organization. Three years ago, we took on global warming/climate change as a major issue. We committed to confront it and seek out solutions.

We support biofuels, energy alternatives such as wind and solar, and technology-based approaches such as flex-fuel automobiles and carbon sequestration. We have found that within each of these are pitfalls that need to be avoided or worked through, but there are home-grown solutions.

Having been immersed in this discussion for the past three years, I have observed two things: First, the science is clear — man's use of this planet is changing its climate, and second, there is a certain measure of hyperbole associated with the discussion.

Recently, as the discussion grew louder and clearer, I have observed a third aspect: those who do not like the message/facts attempt to marginalize the speaker. Al Gore is a prime example. Those who deny the science are quick to attack him in hopes of degrading the message. It's a tactic as old as mankind — if you don't like the message, shoot the messenger. But shooting the messenger does not change the message or the facts.

Lest you think I am an Al Gore ally, think again. I like to think of myself as a Theodore Roosevelt Republican. I disagree with much of Mr. Gore's politics. But not on this point. Initially, I did disagree with him, but not now. The science is simply too clear, and the consequences too severe to ignore.

This is why I appreciate your commentary. It is telling people to look beyond the personalities and investigate the facts.

Farmers hunt and fish, but not all hunters and fishermen farm. However, both share a common trait — we are outside in the elements and notice changes much more quickly than non-farmers/hunters/anglers.

We know there is a natural ebb and flow to life connected to the seasons, and we notice when that gets out of kilter. We know it is not normal to duck hunt in east central Arkansas in short sleeves, and that droughts should not last longer than two or three years at most. We know that plant and animal diseases should freeze out in the winter, but they have not been doing so for the past 10 years.

Al Gore has nothing to do with this. Man does.

Just because you don't agree with the messenger, don't ignore the message. Educate yourself about the issue and make up your own mind.
T. David Carruth
Attorney at Law
Clarendon, Ark.

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