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Warming the Earth: Where Does it All End?

January 24, 2003

Re "Melting Ice, Winds of Change," Jan. 19: We Americans, 4.6% of the world's people, use 21% of the world's energy. Should we be satisfied that the increased burning of fossil fuels is increasing the Earth's temperature? The 1990s were the warmest years in history. Is it OK if it gets worse? The 1990 to 2020 projections show world oil use increasing from 4,161 billion to 7,264 billion barrels per year and the total annual energy produced almost doubling.

Are we ready for the disappearance of the Earth's oil by 2050 and natural gas 25 years later? Do we really want housing developments where Arctic ice once stood? In a world that could become like Kansas in the 1930s, we seem to be no more intelligent than the grasshoppers who ate what little was left growing and then died.

Roger Newell

San Diego

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Your article briefly recounts the tragic story of Sir John Franklin's 1845 expedition. After being trapped by ice, the crew tried to walk to safety, carrying, we are told, "unnecessary luxuries such as books." Since all 128 eventually perished, it does seem foolish for these doomed men to have packed books instead of more survival tackle.

Still, reflecting on the incident from the early 21st century, when reading is seen by most to be irrelevant, I can't help but be fascinated by an era and a culture that could produce hearty, courageous men who would regard literature not as a luxury but rather as a necessity.

Harry Gordon

Long Beach

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