To the editor:
I was in Independence over the weekend and read The Examiner. I was not happy with Jason Offutt’s column, “Headlines we really need.” Primarily, at the end: “And, on the lighter side,” pertaining to astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, a Harvard University intellectual who is respected worldwide for his scientific theories. I don’t think Hawking’s comments, to scientists at a gathering in Los Angeles recently, were close to being “on the lighter side.”
Drive south on Interstate 49 to Joplin, Mo. Drive through the middle part of Joplin, particularly from South Main Street, then on East 20th Street to Range Line Road, and you will see one example of how “we’re killing the planet,” as Hawking warned. In 2013, the middle part of Joplin still looks like a “ground zero” area of a nuclear bomb detonation, similar to the photographs taken of Hiroshima two or three years after the U.S. detonation of the atomic bomb in 1945.
In addition, very few mature trees remain in the middle part of Joplin, and until trees grow back in approximately 50 years, residents of Joplin and others visiting Joplin will always be reminded of the path of the EF-5 tornado of May 22, 2011 and “how we are killing the planet.”
Intellectuals, as U.S. historians such I, have recognized for several years that our 20th century pollution of planet Earth has started to affect global climate change, beginning with the melting of polar bears’ habitats on the Arctic Ocean. Although many scientists still have not figured tornadoes into climate change, tornadoes have become more frequent and powerful in the U.S. in recent years. This has led some intellectuals to conclude that tornadoes are instead “God’s wrath.”
Thus, I do not think Offutt’s use of “And, on the lighter side” was very appropriate when he introduced readers to Hawking’s brief comments.