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Effects of carbon dioxide

To the editor: Today, we use fossil fuel and nuclear fission extensively to make steam-generated electricity. Fossil fuels add so much climate-warming carbon dioxide, that they are rapidly melting remaining glaciers, raising sea-level. At first, that would flood coastlines enough to cripple intercontinental trade. In turn, being global, most manufacturing would collapse or seriously diminish. The severity of its economic privation would shorten many lives. These fuels also take lives when their byproducts enter human bodies. Coal does it through black lung in miners and emphysema in people living downwind of coals combustion; coal extraction sterilizes streams and poisons well-water with dissolved oxidation products from newly exposed rock. Above ground it rips off mountaintops; underground it unexpectedly entombs miners alive. Oil kills, through climate warming and cancer from its dioxin byproduct. Nuclear kills through buildups of long-lived radioactive byproducts, such as Plutonium 239 (over time, with half always remaining of what existed 24,000 years earlier, and never gone), often mutating cells into cancer. Minor warming would make northern latitudes more comfortable, for awhile, but atmospheric CO2 concentrations reaching only 1% would heat air enough to boil all water, ending most life and beginning water's evaporation toward outer space. Wed eventually become just another space rock nobody wouls be left to call it Earth, or even care! If nuclears used long enough and/or intensively enough, its plutonium would accumulate sufficiently to kill all life and, as organic molecules enlarge towards life's restoration, speeding particles of plutoniums radiation would smash them back into smaller bits, preventing lifes return. Both fossil and nuclear fuels pollute air and water enough to take lives; if possible, we should decrease their use. Does preventing all landscape changes outweigh preventing some life-threatening diseases? Can we do both? David Manwell, Beekmantown

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