An Informed Choice

by Robert McCollum, M.D. | 6/21/01 5:00am

To the Editor:

The National Science Foundation recently reported to President Bush that global warming is indeed a reality and that human activity has made a significant contribution. Although the president requested this report, his reaction was to propose more delay in responding to the threat.

Some may not care that Pacific island nations will vanish as ocean levels rise, or that the planet's wondrous coral reefs are rapidly dying because ocean temperatures are increasing. But there will be climatic changes that will affect each of our lives in adverse and irreversible ways.

National leadership in tapping the energy available in sun, wind and water may be slow in coming, even though such initiatives will provide new industries and careers.

But a nation is an aggregate of individuals, and each one of us makes choices. Thomas L. Friedman's op-ed in the New York Times (May 30) alerted us to the differences within "big oil." ExxonMobil influenced Mr. Bush to pull the U.S. out of the 1997 Kyoto Accord (which called on industrialized nations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions). And the Internet report of ExxonMobil's May 30 shareholders' meeting in Dallas reveals that management called for increased oil exploration, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Dissident shareholders, outvoted, raised the threat of a U.S. boycott of ExxonMobil.

In contrast to ExxonMobil, wrote Friedman, "Shell and BP-Amoco ... withdrew from the oil industry lobby that has been dismissing climate change." BP-Amoco is also the world's largest producer of solar energy.

During the summer, we'll all be using our cars for recreation and travel as well as daily affairs. As a concerned couple, my wife and I know where we will fill our tank. We hope others in the Dartmouth community will make informed choices too.