Anti-Stenhouse global warming LTE in today's ProJo

From the dead tree edition.

Today's ProJo featured a tiny little letter to the editor (cut for length and, in my opinion, editorial slant) responding to a global warming hit piece by Mike Stenhouse. Here's a scanned pdf, or you can see the edited version online (including a back-and-forth in the comments with some climate deniers, including The Stenhouse himself).

Or, you can read it the way I originally wrote it:

To the editor:

In August 22 Providence Journal commentary ("Climate alarms deny the reality in R.I."), Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity, attacks "global warming alarmists" who "deny reality" and spread "fear-mongering propaganda." He singles out a recent Providence event in which two youths with asthma were -- in his words -- used as "props" to show the impact of climate change.

One would think Mr. Stenhouse might be a tad circumspect about calling children props, given his Center's use of student essays to push "school choice" just a month ago: But that's beside the point.

What brings me to respond -- in addition to the body of evidence in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports -- is a fact that should be obvious to a Harvard-educated economist like Mr. Stenhouse. Do you know who believes in global warming? Insurance companies. See this NY Times story from May:

This is not abstract. For the second year in a row, I have paid more for home insurance than property taxes. I live in Portsmouth's Island Park, in a 900-square-foot cottage that my grandfather bought in 1920, and we are 15 feet above mean high tide. Even the cheapest rate, with RI Joint Re, still makes home and flood insurance nearly twice my property taxes.

Greed? No. Grim actuarial statistics. As we continue to pump gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, we face an increased risk of weather extremes exacerbated by global warming. And that risk is quantifiable. Those of us who live near the water see it in our premiums.

If Mr. Stenhouse truly cared about the "prosperity" of everyday Rhode Islanders, he would be working to fight both this enormous economic drain and the long-term impacts global warming will have on the well being of all the Ocean State's citizens.

Who's denying reality now?

John G. McDaid

What I really love about Rhode Island is that it's such a small state that someone from the West Bay called me up tonight to chat about what I wrote and commiserate about the head-in-the-sand denialists. How cool is that? (waves)

Since I wrote this, there was a frightening piece on insurance in the Warwick Beacon, an explainer on flood maps in the EcoRI News, and a long piece on new models for estimating risk in this weekend's NY Times Magazine.

Also, how much more helpful would it be if folks like the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity, the RI Current, and the Rhode Island Shoreline Coalition fought things like this that cost middle class families thousands of dollars a year, instead of picking fights over trivialities just to rile up their base?