Weather Forecast


Letter to the editor: Abler's incoherent arguments

In his May 18 column, "Dilbert and climate change," Mr. Pete Abler cobbles together an incoherent argument against climate science, economics and the Volkswagen diesel engine settlement.

In it, he assumes that because he and the Dilbert cartoonist do not understand these issues, then no one does. Don't bother him with the facts - he's got an ax to grind.

Setting aside Mr. Abler's irresponsible journalism, let's take just one of the issues mentioned: the money that Minnesota will receive from the VW settlement, which has to do with nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, not climate change.

Knowledge about the damaging effects of NOx has been well-established for decades. It takes many forms: medical costs, missed work and productivity losses from pollution-related illnesses; premature death; damage to materials (cement bridges, car tires, buildings, etc.); damage to fisheries, agricultural crops, tourism, forestry and more.

We can't cover all of those here, but we can look at one example. NOx emissions are an important cause of smog, which is, in turn, an important cause of asthma. As anyone with asthma can tell you, the medications, emergency room visits and other treatments get expensive.

How expensive? In 2007 alone, Americans spent over $50 billion just for asthma treatment. That doesn't include all those other damages, each with its own price tag that we currently have no choice but to pay.

To you and to me, the $47 million of the VW settlement may sound like a lot of money to spend, but when compared to the damages it will prevent, it's a darn good bargain in terms of both dollars and quality of life.

Melissa Birch,

Pequot Lakes