Letters to the Editor, Dec. 20

Letter to the Editor

Editor's note: Last week's letter to the editor headlined “Why Pay To Keep Young Families In Chatham?” clearly struck a nerve with readers. It was shared on Facebook hundreds of times and prompted hundreds more comments. It even inspired local musician Tom Leidenfrost to compose a song, “Poor Beverly,” which had garnered nearly 11,000 views on YouTube (youtu.be/Ep9x6cgo75g) as of early this week. He even performed it at last weekend's 15th Annual Cape Cod Christmas Cavalcade benefit, reportedly to a standing ovation. We also received many letters in response, most of which follow. As one writer observed, the letter “poked a sleeping bear” resulting in the rampage of words that follows.


Why Stay To Keep Second Homeowners Happy?

Editor:
This letter is in response to last week's letter “Why Pay to Keep Young Families In Chatham?”

Beverly, your letter wasn’t just wrong, it was insulting.  I grew up in Chatham.  My mom was a realtor who probably sold you your second home.  My father was a bartender who most likely served you a drink.  They lived in Chatham because it was a small, beautiful place to raise their family.  

I have my own family now.  My husband is an oyster farmer. You’ve probably eaten one of his oysters.  I own my own marketing company and you’ve probably heard of local businesses because of me.  We wanted to live in Chatham, but housing costs were way too high, because of the mansions being built for such astronomical amounts, raising housing costs and pushing us out.  It has been a dream of mine to open my own business in Chatham, because I’ve always wanted to support the town that supported me through my high school career until I left for college and then again when I moved back after college.  But guess what? Because of these mansions being built, it has also raised rents on businesses, never giving me a chance to even dream about opening a business, which is why you mainly see “brand” name stores moving into town, or seasonal businesses which either can’t afford to stay open all year or their stores are just a mere hobby.  For me, it’s a passion.  It’s about keeping roots in this town and keeping it local.  Do you really want Chatham to become a resort town with no history, no life, no heartbeat? That’s not the Chatham I grew up in and that’s not the Chatham I want.

Your point about comparing this area to the suburbs of Boston is outlandish.  You’re talking about towns with higher populations that are close in proximity to Boston where the pay scale and opportunity are much higher.  You’re also talking about an area that is year-round. Chatham is a seasonal town whose population dissipates to nothing in the winter and opportunity is minimal because of it.

Next time you sip that drink, eat an oyster, need a landscaper, enjoy a piece of local fish, pick up some groceries from the market, gas up your boat, hire a painter for your trim, get a new kitchen put in and read this very newspaper, think about all of the young (and old) people that stick around just to make that happen for you.  

Courtney Wittenstein

Harwich

 

Thank You For The Reminder

Editor:

To the writer of “Why Pay to Keep Young Families In Chatham”: After having read your letter in last week's Chronicle, it has taken some deep introspective work for me to come to a place of gratitude toward you, and I want to be sure to extend it. Now, my initial emotion in the process of decoding and then absorbing the content of your letter was a combination of denial and disbelief. You see, I have lived in a place for almost 30 years now where I am surrounded by a community of givers. By people who come together as a team, helping each other when the going gets tough. When a family member falls ill, or a parent loses a job, you can immediately hear the murmurs around town, “How can we help?”

Within this incredible community are these remarkable human beings who circle their wagons around those in need, regardless of the socio-economic status of the givers or the receivers. In fact, I live in this spectacular place where hundreds of children (even those from wealthy households) descend upon a low-income housing neighborhood on Halloween to go trick or treating. The families living in these homes often leave work early that day so they can transform their neighborhood into a spooky wonderland, generously placing treasures in bag after bag for hours. It's truly something you should see for yourself if you happen to be in town next October. Your grandchildren would have a blast. Then, on April 1 the Chatham Fire Department works tirelessly to make possible a polar plunge where hundreds of us come to Harding's Beach and jump in freezing, icy water to raise money for a chosen local family. I think this is one of my favorite Chatham events.

So, the reason I am taking the time from my very busy family life (we have five children and a hefty mortgage!) is to thank you. Truly. Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am to be surrounded 12 months a year by some of the most thoughtful, caring, compassionate people that exist on this planet. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for all the second home owners and summer visitors who joyfully contribute to services they may never get to use. Thank you for reminding me why we choose to stay in a place where my husband has to leave for days and weeks at a time to go offshore fishing for us. Thank you for reminding me to take moments to breathe and be grateful for how I have been helped and supported by this community. Thank you for reminding me to not get so wrapped up in my life that I don't continue to pay it forward.

You see, the people who are working so hard to help families stay in Chatham are the ones who see that not only are we the feet that keep this town running or the hands that keep it beautiful, but the lungs that make it breathe and the heart that gives it pulse.

Thank you for further deepening the bond of this community (your letter certainly ignited some dialogue!) and for reminding all of us to mark our calendars, get out there and vote.

Shannon Neal

Chatham

 

Town Meeting Will Address Housing

Editor:

Lots of intelligent good conversations started because of a letter in last week's Chronicle. To all who  are speaking up to educate, I ask, please keep your thoughts and comments out there in the public.  Also, please make sure you attend the town meeting next year.  There will be discussions on affordable housing. There also is a task force working now on getting obtainable housing for working families here in Chatham. Your support and votes are needed at this town meeting.  Please write your comments to the planning board, the selectmen, the finance committee, the newspapers, especially The Chronicle.  Perhaps a bumper sticker for Chatham: "ENDANGERED SPECIES: CHATHAM YEAR ROUNDERS"

Shirley Smith

Chatham

 

Chatham Is A Caring Community

Editor:

My answer as to why to keep young families in Chatham is quite simple: we are a community, an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location. As a community we work together. Some of us have roots back to the Wampanoags, William Nickerson, Thomas Howes or the Mayflower. Many of us are washashores. What you do not see in the few summer months are the unique ties that bind all the generations residing here.
In the summer you don't see us because we are totally outnumbered and are mostly working at seasonal jobs so that you and your guests can enjoy Chatham's many amenities. We enjoy them in the early morning, evenings or during the shoulder season and winter. Chatham is a small town where people know each other and mainly care for each other in one way or another.
Many years ago, a school nurse made note of the children without proper winter wear and started a fund quietly that other teachers contributed to so that no child would be without a warm coat, hat, mittens and a bicycle. It was anonymous for many years until the merchants caught wind and thus the Angel Fund was born. There is a clothing swap at the elementary school so that outgrown clothes can be shared. There is the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Fund, The Art of Charity, and food bank.
Why? Because we care about and value each other.
To suggest that the younger members of our town move to an area they can afford is to suggest they all vacate the Cape, which is becoming unaffordable because so many people want second homes here and are pushing the cost of basic services higher and higher.
Without the people who can barely afford to live here there would be no services or amenities, EMTs, fire department, police department, transfer station, bartenders, waitresses, shopkeepers and clerks, pharmacy, market, etc.
I am a direct descendant of William Nickerson, Thomas Howes and Elder William Brewster. I have spent part every one of my 70 years here on Cape Cod. I have lived in Chatham in a middle income affordable housing neighborhood for 35 and a half years.
To suggest that my husband and I, my children and grandchildren and neighbors vacate the Cape rather than be supported by tax dollars that we also pay is extremely insulting and demeaning.
I respectfully suggest you sell your house here in Chatham and buy one in Wellesley or Weston or Winchester where you won't have to be concerned about paying taxes for things that you feel don't better your life directly.
Having a second home in Chatham, or anywhere else on the Cape is a luxury that is totally foreign to most of us who call any of the small towns on Cape Cod home.

Linda Dunne

Chatham

 

Thankful That Chatham Is Home

Editor:

I have been a year-round, life-long resident of Chatham for over 31 years. Since the day I was born, Chatham has been my home. My mother has also been a year-round, life-long resident of Chatham for 57 years, since the day she was born. My papa was Charlie White, the head of the Chatham Water Department for over 25 years, until he retired. My father has been a year-round resident of Chatham since 1983, after summering here with his parents throughout his entire childhood. He created his full-time roots here quickly, as the town welcomed him as a well-known, year-round resident and trusted business owner.

Like me, my husband has been a year-round, life-long resident of Chatham for over 35 years. Since the day he was born, Chatham has been his home. He and his father run a reliable local business. We met in this town, because of this town. We grew up together in this town, and we plan on growing old together in this town. And thanks to Chatham, we have that opportunity.

Several years ago my husband and I became an “Instant Family” in this town, taking on my nephews unexpectedly. It was this local paper that spread that word on our behalf. And almost immediately, this entire town came together to support us and to ensure that we would have the opportunity to stay in the town that we call home and raise my nephews in the town that they also knew to be home.

Thanks to Chatham being the special community that it is, my husband and our instant family got to stay in our hometown and close to our families when things got tough, all because this town came together for us. With the help of our local family and friends, local businesses, and total strangers who spend only summers here, we were able to make ends meet and tell my nephews that they could still call this place home and create life-long friendships, just like my husband and I got to.

We thank Chatham for that, from the bottom of our hearts. Chatham is not a town like any other. Chatham is the town where generations of families have grown. Chatham is the town where we know each other’s names, from the cashiers to the waiters to the gas-pumpers to the mailman to the bartender to the landscapers to the fishermen. Chatham is the town where I can wave to 10 people I’ve passed on the road in a three minute drive. Chatham is the town that comes together for holidays and helps those in need. Chatham is the town where children can run and ride bikes and get invited to CBI for a warm Thanksgiving meal. Chatham is a community, a home and a family that wishes to keep all of its families together and thriving.

You ask why Chatham is on a different path than other communities in Massachusetts, and my answer to that is because Chatham has a heartbeat that all of its residents share. This town would not be the town it is if it weren’t for the community that holds it together. When a family is in crisis, this town comes together with solutions. When someone gets sick, this town throws fundraisers. Perhaps that is not the kind of town you want to summer in, but that is certainly the kind of town that I want to live in.

When people come to visit Chatham, I often hear that “this place is like no other place in the world.” I agree. Perhaps it is the lovely local shops of downtown that keeps you coming, or the oceans and their ever-changing views, or the locally caught fish on your plate at the locally-owned restaurant. Those things are forever appreciated by this community, but when I hear people say “this place is like no other place in the world,” it is not because of the fish or the views or the shops, it is because of the overflowing love, the community, and the family that this town has always been, and continues to be.

Thank you Chatham, for being my home.

Missy Miller

Chatham

 

Many Care About This Special Town

Editor:

In response to Beverly Nelson: I am appalled by the tone of entitlement and apparent ignorance in the letter. Chatham is not, nor ever has been, just a summer resort; it is a community.  And as such, it is an eclectic mix of people of all ages, trades and socio-economic backgrounds.  This is what gives Chatham its heart.  I was taught from a young age to have respect and admiration for the hard-working local folks that make Chatham a vibrant, special community.  It’s these folks who not only create this magical haven that you so enjoy in the summer months, but ensure that it is thriving and well cared-for throughout the off season.  Surely you realize that these folks are your police officers, waiters, merchants, selectmen, firefighters, teachers, clergy, nurses, carpenters, EMTs, bankers, postmen, grocers, fisherfolk, landscapers, contractors, chefs, mechanics and more. 

Housing is a very real issue and one that is Cape-wide.  With starter homes beginning at $400,000, what is your suggestion?  Should our work-force live off-Cape and be bussed in like in the Hamptons?  Are folks whose families have been here for generations not entitled to live here?  I don’t think your narrow point of view is reflective of most summer residents.  The ones that I know care as deeply for the locals as they do about this special town.  Perhaps you could take your cue from them.  Comments like yours are dangerously divisive and create an “us/them” mentality that is toxic to our community.  

Amy Middleton

Chatham

 

Year-round Community Feeling, Year Round

Editor:

Wow, Beverly, this was a truly sad letter. You talk as if Chatham is for the privileged only. It would be hard to imagine Chatham without the hard-working, year-round people who love it as much as you. It cannot be supported by summer residents only. If you run off all the families struggling to keep afloat during the off season then who is going to provide you with your services in the summer? Chatham is a town of old and new, rich and struggling, but it’s a town that bands together to help all in our community despite financial status. Why? Because believe it or not, we don’t judge each other and respect everyone, even those who write letters that infer a bias against those not as fortunate as you. I’ll pray you’ll feel the “true” feeling of community one day. We don’t feel it a few months out of the year, we feel it all year long!

Patty D'Agostino

Chatham

 

And Happy New Year To All

Editor:

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" more than Beverly Nelson's letter titled, "Why Pay To Keep Young Families In Chatham?" published in this newspaper last week.
By golly that's the spirit!
Oy.

Mike Rice

South Wellfleet

 

Opportunities For Young Families

Editor:

These days I am often stunned by the words I hear come out of the mouths of my fellow humans. For example: Recently in The Chronicle, a long-time summer resident, wrote: “I am not sure why Chatham is placing so much additional effort to keep those who cannot afford to live in Chatham as residents.” Is Chatham destined to become a 55-and-over-only community dressed up in pretty, overpriced houses, high-end shops, and beautiful beaches? Fishing families, trades people, wait staff, gardeners, landscapers, teachers, school personnel ( well, we won’t need those), housekeepers, police, firefighters, it’s not necessary that these folks live in Chatham, especially if they are under 55. Affordable worker housing, vouchers for pre-schoolers, why should our extraordinarily beautiful town where the majority of houses are second homes make so much effort to support young hard working families? Communities all over our Commonwealth are committed to supporting affordable worker housing, universal free pre-school for all children, and other initiatives to keep young families in their towns. Thanks to everyone who pays taxes in this town we have the resources to find intelligent, compassionate and respectful ways to create opportunities that will keep young and growing families in Chatham.

Scotti Finnegan

Chatham

 

This Is Our Cape Cod

Editor:

I was dismayed to see Beverly Nelson’s recent letter, but not surprised. I have been lucky enough to live and work on Cape the past 22 years, and without a doubt have met some of the finest, hardworking folks I’ve ever known. Yes, the Cape is beautiful, but the true beauty of Cape Cod lies in our community: the small-town life of knowing and caring for each other, regardless of our income or age. Through my work in healthcare, raising a daughter here, volunteering building houses, bake sales, social justice work, participating in community fundraising and benefits, art, sports teams and music, is see that the vibrant community that is Cape Cod is all around us. It is us.
We cannot let the high tide of money wash away our beloved Cape Cod. The attitude that Beverly expresses of “every man for himself” is a soulless, no-man’s land of empty second homes that’s picked clean. That is not our Cape Cod. For Every Beverly, there are 10 or 20 or more of us. Our community is our creation, our passion, our right. Let’s get busy: in every town, every school, every church, every street, every shop, every committee. It’s our Cape Cod.

Mary Sprout
Chatham

 

A Logical Use Of Tax Dollars

Editor:

The number of young adults on Cape is decreasing. This is driven by the increase in second homes and the fact that, under current zoning laws, most towns are saturated in terms of building new housing. We are faced with a limited supply of increasingly expensive housing, and the only people who can afford to live here are of retirement age.
One report prepared for the Truro Housing Authority predicts that by 2035, there will be just 35 young adults left in Truro. Let us repeat that. In a town projected to have 1,337 year-round residents, only 35 of them will be young adults. This is equivalent to 2.6 percent of the population. These trends are not sustainable.
Affordable year-round housing and pre-K vouchers will incentivize young families to stay on Cape. We would also add that in the Monomoy school district, one in five students are low-income. The Nauset district, which we graduated from in 2013, has seen a 5 percent rise in students living at or below the poverty level in the past five years. the more families on Cape would qualify for this subsidy (if it were means-tested) than you might think.
The difference between any Cape town and Winchester or Weston or Wellesley is that if people can’t afford to live there, it doesn’t matter. Someone (read: affluent people) will always continue to live in the Boston suburbs. However, many people who live on Cape are working class, and if they are displaced because they can no longer afford to live here (which is reprehensible in and of itself), no one else is moving in. The residents of the greater Boston area will not move to the Cape year-round because of the limited job opportunities inherent to a seasonal economy. Where does that leave us?
When second homeownership is a root cause of the dangerous trends we face, it is logical, and even fair, to use your tax dollars to rebuild our towns’ vitality. If this bothers you so much, we suggest selling your house.

Aubrey McDonough
Wellfleet
Livvy Miller
Harwich

 

Why Keep Young People Here?

Editor:

As a local non-profit organization dedicated to fostering opportunity and civic engagement among young workers and families on Cape Cod, we were deeply troubled by the points made in the recent letter to the editor titled “Why pay to keep young families in Chatham?” Contrary to the author, we applaud the town of Chatham’s recent efforts to incentivize the retention of young workers and families through the addition of year-round, market-rate affordable housing options, and a proposal to provide child care vouchers of $6,000 per family – an amount that, incidentally, covers roughly 30 percent of the average cost of care for one child in Massachusetts (the second most expensive state in the nation for child care at $17,062 per year, per child, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Instead of asking why we should want young workers and families to stay on Cape Cod year-round, we should instead be asking what happens to local communities when young people leave and don’t come back.

Perhaps the most compelling response to the author’s original question is the simplest one: if we don’t support youth and families, what sort of community would we be? For many, the idea of fostering opportunity for young workers and families symbolizes hope and an investment in the future. What do we want the future of our communities to look like? It’s time to put our money – and our vote – where it really matters. We urge residents across Cape Cod, regardless of age, to support town- and state-based initiatives that make it easier for young workers and families to stay on Cape Cod year-round. Get involved in your local boards, committees, and commissions. Educate yourself on the very real barriers that face our young workforce today. Vote in local elections. Because if we don’t stand up for the future of our communities, then what do we stand for?

(A longer version of this letter can be found at capecodyoungprofessionals.org/news/an-answer-to-the-question-why-keep-young-workers-and-families-on-cape-cod – Editor.)

Lauren Barker, chief executive officer

Cape Cod Young Professionals

 

Engagement Is Best Response


Editor:

The recent letter saying people who can’t afford to live in Chatham should leave isn’t an outlier. I’ve been to town meeting and planning board meetings in this town. This type of attitude is pervasive and we have to change it. The idea we should throw our hands up and watch helplessly as the backbone of our economy – the small business owners and their employees – are forced off Cape Cod is exactly why we all need to be active in town government.
People with this attitude show up, get involved, and make decisions about our lives and our community. If you’re angered by that letter, sharing it on social media or writing letters isn’t enough. Show up at public hearings and town meeting. Help pass opportunities for year-rounders such as the accessory dwelling unit bylaw and the childcare vouchers. If you find this offensive, engagement is your outlet. Show up, vote, make sure this mindset doesn’t decide our community’s future.

Molly MacGregor

Chatham

 

Whose Opinion Matters Most?

Editor:

Beverly Nelson has sparked outrage amongst our community. The response is beautiful: The community acknowledging the struggle of living here year-round and the importance of raising children with adequate education. If we didn’t get a trust fund, a top job with a tech company or even finish a higher education degree, it does not mean we have to leave our home so Bev can skip out on taxes and serve finger sandwiches on Tiffany. Good for you, Bev – nothing against the financially successful, yet do something noble with your privilege. Perhaps we consider these values moving forward, supporting local businesses, charities and efforts for affordable housing on Beverly’s dime. After all, she is a tourist in our tourist economy, and her opinion doesn’t actually matter.

 

Jessica Riley-Norton

West Barnstable

 

Second Homeowners Not Blameless

Editor:

After reading a letter sent in from Beverly Nelson who has her summer home in Chatham, I was enraged at how she has a problem with the town trying to do more to help young families be able to live in the town. She actually has the nerve to suggest if they can't afford to live there then they should find somewhere else to go. I am fifth generation born and raised on the Cape; how dare someone who "has spent their summers here for 30 years" tell people like me that if we can't afford the cost of living without any assistance then we should move elsewhere. If people like her didn't buy up homes to be used for a few weeks a year and drive up property taxes there would be more affordable year-round rentals for those of us who are here all year long not only on vacation.

Serena Carreiro

Wellfleet

 

Looking Forward To Summer

Editor:

I wanted to wish Beverly Nelson of Natick, author of the “Why Pay To Keep Young Families in Chatham,” a Merry Christmas. She’s going to need one before spending her next summer in Chatham.

Sean Mulholland

Chatham

 

Needed: Young People
Editor:

I will open this letter with a statement of gratitude to the town of Chatham and the Chatham Housing Authority. I have never taken public assistance or welfare. I have always generated my own pay check. Before receiving my apartment through Chatham Housing, I was faced with my biggest fear, homelessness. When I was awarded my apartment on Crowell Road, between two beautiful boat yards, I cannot express how grateful I was.
As a young person I came to the Cape in 1970. Being an artist I opened an art studio. After becoming established, I hired young people and met a payroll. I have always paid my income taxes and property tax indirectly through rents.
In the early 2000s, why didn't I buy property? Why didn't I speculate on rising prices? What did I do with my money? As an artist, I made all my product. I put all my money back into my studio but gradually the overhead began to exceed my income. As far as I can see, my only crime was that I did not buy property.
Every community needs young people. They are what brings life, vitality, change and humanity to every town. To encourage them to live somewhere else is shortsighted and prejudice. I do not want to think of myself as living in a select retirement community. Thank you again to the Chatham Housing Authority.

Christopher Pearson
Chatham

 

Letter Poked Sleeping Bear


Editor:

Unlike Beverly Nelson, I am not a summer resident. I will, however, be considered a washashore forever having moved here at 14.  In the ensuing years, I graduated from high school here, went away to college, and then started my own family when I moved back to Brewster.

We can all jump on a bandwagon of a tone-deaf letter that feels privileged and uninformed, and believe me, I have. But we can also use it to look at what it’s really all about and not kill the messenger. She poked the sleeping bear showing the sweeping disparity and lack of understanding between these two factions – the summer people and the year-rounders.

Living on the Cape year-round isn’t easy, and it’s gotten more challenging since I moved here in the 1970s. Back then, my mom, a divorced elementary school teacher, could afford to buy us a home, and we still had money to eat.  That modest home bought in the 1970s for $34,900 sold after my mom’s death for $400,000 would never be affordable to a new teacher moving here.

What sadly has been lost in the rush to market, and some might say to exploit our beautiful environs, is thoughtful and long-term planning. While many rejoiced in making money hand over fist in the selling and upselling of our communities, many have been left behind.

Many towns are finally waking up to the problem. As an Orleans resident, I have been pleased to see people acknowledging the pitfalls of becoming a town with only retirees and summer people. Every community needs the energy, vibrance, and vision of younger residents. We also need them to run businesses, be firefighters and plow our roads. Though according to Ms. Nelson we should apparently bus them in, or they can commute from other – equally expensive I might add, towns.

People wonder why we have a disproportionately high drug problem here, it is partially born out of hopelessness and frustration. Many young people who stay here don’t see any chance of a future for themselves. They want to live near their family and where they grew up, but find the prospects lacking both in viable employment and having a decent place to live. Out of that despair and lack of connection, some seek solace in substance misuse which hurts all of us.

We need homes normal working people can afford, and we need decent paying jobs that employ people year-round. I love my community, but I don’t love the perpetual focus on tourists and retirees. In order to survive we need everyone, we need young adults with the energy and vision to create businesses, we need families because they are truly the future and vital to our survival. We have lots of young adults who grew up here who have done an incredible job of creating thriving year-round businesses. We have organizations like the Cape Cod Young Professionals whose intention is to help young people build thriving businesses and careers. I see progress happening.

Perhaps instead of asking why does Chatham (or Orleans, Brewster, Harwich, et al) need families, we should be asking ourselves, what can we do to help create a Cape Cod where everyone who wants to can make it work? A Cape Cod that helps young people feel they matter, and that our future is about more than pleasing second homeowners, it’s about sticking by those of us for whom this our only home.

Candace Hammond

Orleans

 
Supports Charter Review Group

Editor:

I had to laugh when I read Mr. Myer's letter (“Charter Review Needs Review,” Dec. 13). One would hope the charter review would be working on how to prevent the "non-binding" votes that have taken place in the past by not having any more "non-binding" votes in the future. The West Chatham non-binding vote has done nothing but cause contention for years. He doesn't live in West Chatham and has absolutely no idea what the traffic is like there on a daily basis. He is absolutely correct in stating there are resentments on the West Chatham project; however, his comments about how the charter has served residents well for over 25 years is his opinion only. Many of us could not disagree more. As a non-resident, Mr. Myers continues to dwell on issues that he and others have a personal stake in. He continues his tiresome attacks on folks he doesn't care for. I think the CRC is doing a great job and so do many others. Many of us feel the town manager has been given way too much authority in her position and the time has come to reign that power in. I would hope the CRC continues to work on these issues moving forward.

Judy Patterson

West Chatham

 

Hot Chocolate Will Do

Editor:

Having noticed the growing promotion of wine, I appreciated Hank Hyora’s suggestion to “have a mug of hot chocolate” while enjoying the pages of the holiday gift guide that accompanied recent editions of this newspaper. In my experience, this later suggestion helps one’s neighbor (friend, family, or self) more than the former.

Judy Carlson

Chatham

Climate Change Is In The Details

 

Editor:

As you know climate change is real and has been for 4.5 billion years. But that’s not the issue. The real issue is measuring that change. To get at change one must compare it to a prior or base period. I think it would be fair to say that prior to the mid 20th century our records are not scientifically useful. Therefore, getting a base global average temperature is probably impossible for the degree of accuracy desired.

Scientists instead have devised ways of interpreting historical climate data through analysis of ice cores, for example. Useful but there are no ice cores at the equator. So, scientists have turned to model building data sets. These are extremely complex mathematical algorithms which take into consideration dynamic surface and atmospheric conditions. Each of these models undergo adjustments at the discretion and wisdom of the model building team. These are called “tuning” and “paleoclimate adjustments.” The resultant conclusions rest wholly on these refinements. Opinions vary.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Climate Assessment have shaken the oak tree. The global average temperature is estimated to rise from 1.5 degrees to 2.5 degrees in a mere 20 to 30 years. Doomsday is upon us. Watch the news, read the newspapers. But where is the leavened debate about how valid the forecast is? Where is the discussion on the potential benefits of a warming climate? Are all areas affected similarly?
The culprit in this discussion is CO2. This is mankind's contribution to the climate discussion. Prior to the late 1800s we were of little influence, no fossil fuels, no cars, no trucks and no planes. The planet for its history has undergone climate change without our influence. Think glaciers and dinosaurs. We are an exogenous element of climate change and have now made serious contributions of CO2. So, in addition to modeling the earth for temperature change we have added measuring CO2 as a predictor of temperature change. Does anyone know or care how “they” measure CO2 world emissions past, present and future?
If you really care about climate change you might want to do a little research on your own. I would highly recommend Stanford University’s unbiased paper on Climate Science, published May 11. It will open your eyes. Or maybe you will think I’m nuts.

Paul Peterson

Chatham