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Thursday's Letters to the Editor

Gifts vs. taxes

EDITOR: I was struck by the reaction of Sonoma State University anthropology Professor Margaret Purser ("Some topics too close to home for SSU's ethics center," Thursday) to the voluntary gift of American International Group to kick start SSU's Center for Ethics, Law and Society: "What are the issues with a public university accepting corporate funding in this new world?"

Perhaps the question too close to home for Purser should be: What are the issues with any university accepting funding taken by brute force under threat of incarceration and/or forfeiture of personal property? AIG's gift comes from revenue generated by completely voluntary, mutually beneficial exchanges with its customers. SSU's government funding comes from an involuntary, forceful taking by the state for the benefit of certain, but very far from all, of its citizens.

How is a private university any different than a public university except than by the voluntary/involuntary nature of their funding? That certainly is a dilemma that a Center for Ethics needs to address before it even opens its doors to discourse. I agree with the professor that "we need to have this conversation out loud and in public" — both conversations.

WILLIAM ROTHE

Santa Rosa

Greenhouse gases

EDITOR: George Johnston said it is a well-established scientific fact that heat travels freely through any gas, including greenhouse gases ("Climate change," Letters, Friday), which means that climate change caused by the concentration of heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is scientifically impossible.

Clearly, Johnston missed the day in seventh-grade science class when they explained about the earth's atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, along with other greenhouse gases naturally occurring in the atmosphere, absorbs and then re-emits a wide range of energy — including heat. This is known as the greenhouse effect, and it keeps our planet a comfortable temperature. Without the greenhouse gases, Earth would have a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. With too many greenhouse gases, Earth would be like Venus, where the greenhouse atmosphere keeps temperatures around 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

NANCY FLOM


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