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Taking back personal power

Dear Editors,

I’d like to thank writer Jules Masterjohn and TheTelegraph for the Feb. 19 Arting Around column “Weighing In.” The article highlighted an art exhibition for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW), which will be at the Durango Public Library through Sun., March 1.

The column went beyond highlighting the unique and provocative bathroom scale art that seeks to call attention to the issue of eating and exercise disorders. While NEDAW was the platform, the exhibit is meant to start a broader dialogue about how we determine our self worth.

You gave voice to an issue that is not talked about enough – body image and self-esteem. Millions of people, most who do NOT have eating or exercise disorders, still allow the ubiquitous scale to dictate how they feel about themselves.

Writer Naomi Wolf, in The Beauty Myth, exposed the staggering amount of time, effort and money that women are compelled to spend on their outward appearance in order to be socially acceptable, employable and marriageable.

While burning bras was our mothers’ symbolic #$%* you, perhaps condemning the bathroom scale is the next generation’s attempt to take back our personal power.

The scale is just a couple of pounds of metal and plastic. It can’t tell you how funny, smart or creative you are. It can’t tell you you’re good enough or lovable just the way you are. Only YOU can do that.  

– Mandy Mikulencak, Durango

The view from NASA

Dear Editors,Roger Cohen’s letter of Feb. 5 is filled with exactly the kinds of transgressions he condemns in his “eight rules.”But, let’s skip the rhetoric and go to the authoritative data being collected and digested by NASA’s Earth Observatory Satellite system. To follow along, please go to the inter

net: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/ this opens to NASA’s “GISS Surface Temperature Analysis ~ Global Temperature Trends: 2008 Annual Summation.”

The opening page shows the famous graph everyone points to regarding “average” global temperatures. From a distance it looks serious and uphill. But, looking closer, it starts getting more complicated. In this thicket of details is where RC, Heartland Institute, and a host of other corporate sponsored naysayers do some statisti

cal voodoo. Through their tunnel vision, they conjure a downward trend and are trumpeting: “Lookie here the temperatures are going down, global warming is an elaborate hoax!”

Back to the GISS graph. On the website, you will notice that next to the graph is a global map representing the distribution of temperatures that went into the averages displayed in the famous graph. Naysayers, never direct your attention to this map ~ but, it is definitely something to study.

Looking at that map, the colors represent the distribution of heat energy on our Earth. Consider our climate as the heat engine it truly is. This heat engine’s job is to maintain a state of dynamic global equilibrium. “Barometric differentials” and “temperature gradients” are the throttles of this atmospheric weather machine. It’s simple, undeniable physics!

Looking at the actual map, notice the white areas representing no change in temperatures. Not too much of that. Beside that is a lot of yellows, meaning increased temperature. Next to that is quite a bit of reds reflecting significant temperature increases in these regions. Nestled between all of that are the blue patches recording regional decrees in temperatures.

RC, engineer/scientist, come on, please think about this picture. What is there to be smug about? Don’t barometric differentials and temperature gradients drive weather fronts and storm intensity? Read the details within that GISS report. There is nothing in the least supportive of your clarion call to willful ignorance. All the “Faith” in the world does not change the truth that ignoring our changing climate does us more harm than good!

RC writes: “the science does not support a substantial human contribution to 20th century warning.” This is perhaps the most outrageous, even treasonous, nonsense the corporate-driven naysayers perpetrate. How can any informed person claim that human impact upon this earth isn’t substantial and overwhelmingly destructive? RC, show us some positive proof. Not just slick sound bites! Any serious research yields frightening visions of what unrestrained greed continues to do to our biosphere – you know that web of water, earth, air and life that is our collective life-support system. Read the U.S. Geological Survey report at: http: //pubs.usgs.gov/of/2002/of02-349/, or for a visual: http: //www.nationalgeographic.com/eye/impact.html. Do some web browsing, asking your own questions. The facts are out there and deserve to be studied critically – stifling our preconceived notions. All sides have much to learn.

RC writes: “The second group consists of, well, political propagandists.” RC, isn’t this who you represent? Where are they doing any research? Where do they actually try to explain the dynamics of climate to the public? Where do they acknowledge the full spectrum of data being gathered these days? Where is their funding and reason for existence coming from?Look at Heartland Institute, the latest mega player in the contrarian media campaign. Last spring they came up with “500 Scientists with Documented Doubts About Man-Made Global Warming Scares.” Well, it was a fraud, s proven by the dozens of signees who, within days, publicly condemned their names being usurped. For a collection of links exposing the Heartland Institute’s fraud, see: http: //greenfyre.wordpress.com/denier-vs-skeptic/denier-myths-debunked/the-heartland-institute/If you’re interested in the history of the contrarian camp, this talk by Naomi Oreskes, Stanford professor of history & science, is a must: http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp ?showID=13459.

RC writes: “... solutions should cost as little as possible in economic, political and social terms.” Silly man. Our economy may depend upon weather patterns, but it doesn’t work the other way around! Stop mixing the two! Understanding the climate is more important than pretending we are in control.

– Peter Miesler, Durango

Simplistic use of the thumb

To the Editors,

The Thumbs Down on your perceived increase in SUV use as gas prices have dropped was too simple. Did you forget that we inhabit an isolated corner of the Rocky Mountains? We are not Shaker Heights matrons in our Hummers picking our kids up from the private school down the block. (Sorry, Shaker Heights, but I know whereof I write ... .) Durango is one part of the country where four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles are not only appropriate, but, in many cases, necessary! What would you have us do? Consume yet another vehicle so as to have a small, efficient city car that still won’t make it up the drive, while saving up the Jeep for those trips into the backcountry?? (My own SUV, of Japanese extraction, gets around 22 mpg in town, btw; not all SUV’s should be dissed equally!!) And what about all those active seniors who are the mainstay of our not-for-profits and who out-hike younger folk in our massive wilderness, often, in fact, SUV-pooling to do so? Do we not live, even close to town, in the “urban/wildland interface?” Think again, guys, before you cast aspersions on an entire class of vehicle users of whose lives (and fuel efficiencies) you know naught!Ditto to your blanket Thumbs Down on RV owners, a number of months ago. Your ignorance of that lifestyle was showing. Oddly enough, actual consumption of pretty much everything, along with the coincident waste disposal, goes down exponentially when you confine your life to a space the size of your kitchen! RV’s are an easy target because of the obvious fuel expended to reach a given destination. Generally, though, that’s where the consumption stops. Life aboard an RV is all about conservation and careful use of existing resources. A week in the national forest, for example, will see less than 100 gallons of fresh water consumed. Many have solar arrays and very efficient lighting systems. RV’s tend, also, to sit in destinations for a period of time, averaging out the fuel use over time. RVing is a means of living well with little, after the initial outlay for the vehicle. Don’t knock what you don’t understand.

And your latest reach into the depths regarding flatulence in the workout room was absolutely over the top. Gastric distress is a common reaction to altitude, for one, and for two, people who are struggling to regain cardiovascular health after heart surgeries have to eat a diet rich in complex carbs and legumes, which also tend to cause gastric issues. Please. Stretch a little further.

– Thanks, Polly Morgenstern, Durango

(Editors’ reply: As people who share your same backcountry lifestyle and recreational habits in cars that get 28-32 mpg, we’ll respectfully agree to disagree. As for the gastric distress, we fear that the inspiration for the thumbs down was not recovering from heart surgery.)