Thank You, Brakstin!

I would like to offer a brief word of “congratulations” to Columbian student Brakstin Hockley for such superb letters in The Advertiser-Tribune. As an educator at Heidelberg University for 37 years and a biologist, there were certain qualities I looked for in my students; these qualities were pretty good predictors of the student’s eventual success in the field.

First, I looked for passion. To succeed in the sciences, one must have a love of learning, not just in the scientific discipline, but also in liberal arts education. Brakstin shows a real passion for making the world a better place by drawing attention to the greatest problems facing our planet today, climate change. Like the marvelous sixteen year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Brakstin is mobilizing his generation (and hopefully ours) for a climate fight at the local level.

Next, one needs to be able to communicate his or her thoughts. Brakstin’s two letters were clear, concise and well articulated. He made his points in clear, logical fashion, and showed a remarkable ability to research information to use in refuting some of the outlandish claims of those who opposed his views.

Finally, Brakstin displayed the courage of convistions. He wasn’t “in your face” about it, but he didn’t back off from expressing the views held by the vast majority of scientists around the world today. Again, Brakstin, I commend you or bringing the facts relating to wind turbines and climate change to the readers of our newspaper.

I would also like to commend the teachers at Columbian High School. They are clearly doing a great job in teaching the science of global climate change and in encouraging their students to become active in pressing for solutions. More importantly, these teachers are giving their students the tools to think critcally, and this is what education is all about.

Readers, this problem of climate change is real, and in spite of what was said in a recent letter, teachers do not have a “sinister interest…in gaining political control”. This is conspiracy theory at its worst — the ultimate in “fake news”. This same previous writer mentioned that everything about climate change is theory. You mean like the Cell Theory? The Theory of Gravity? Please remember that in science, a theory is a solid collection of data from thousandsof different sources and disciplines, all of which lead to the same conclusion. In other words, human-induced climate change is real. To deny it is to ignore countless research studies by tens of thousands of scientists trained in this area. Ignoring it is the same as ignoring warning labels on cigarette packages that say smoking is harmful to your health. t took years for scientists to show the causal effect of smoking and health, and they were opposed by the powerful tobacco industry. Likewise, the coal and petroleum industries have been mounting the same fight against climate science, but, as in smoking, the global health, economic and social issues of climate change are impossible to dispute.

Brakstin, I know you ended your last letter saying no more letters should be written to the A-T about your statements. I apologize for not listening to you (well, not really!) but I wanted you to know that there are many of us who appreciate what you have done. Keep up the great work and please, thank your teachers for me.

Bob Murray



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