In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its “Summary for Policymakers” authored by more than 250 scientists from 39 countries. The report concludes that warming of the global climate system is “unequivocal.” The primary culprit, atmospheric carbon dioxide, has reached a level 30 percent higher than the highest peak ever in the past 800,000 years. But the smoking gun is the rate at which these levels have risen, taking only 100 years to achieve what naturally requires more than 10,000 years.

The people of Maine understand the life-giving and life-taking power of the ocean. Hidden in plain sight, the ocean has quietly been protecting us by absorbing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The ocean is very resilient, but by absorbing 30 percent of anthropogenic C02, its chemical make-up has been altered. It has become more acidic and depleted of carbonate, a building block required for shellfish to build their shells.

Shellfish fisheries in Oregon and Washington have already seen these effects with devastating results; in fact, Pacific oysters are seen as the “canary in the coal mine” of ocean acidification. Paradoxically, research has shown that lobsters seem to actually develop stronger shells in these conditions; however, the additional energy expended during developmental stages has ultimately led to higher mortality rates.

Fishing is a cornerstone of not only the economy, but also the identity of Maine. Those who fish for lobster, other shellfish and groundfish have defined the flinty, independent spirit of the state, but their way of life and livelihoods are facing a looming threat. The United States lags behind much of the developed world in terms of climate, sustainability and natural resource management policy.

The country must become a leader in the fight against climate change, globally and domestically. If we do not act, it will result in economic hardship and human suffering for some of its hardest-working citizens.

Ross Madore

Portland and Austin, Texas 

Column right on insurance; it’s truly generational theft

John Graham of Woolwich complains (“More objectivity needed in discussion of insurance,” Nov. 4) that a column by M.D. Harmon (“Government steals from the young to give to the elderly,” Oct. 25) mischaracterizes the purpose of insurance. According to Graham, insurance requires “the more fortunate paying for the misfortunes of other subscribers.”

However, Harmon was summarizing the position recently taken by Stanley Druckenmiller and others. Druckenmiller was addressing the need for entitlement reform in the face of increasing debt.

For example, Druckenmiller, Geoffrey Canada and Kevin Warsh write: “Young people now entering the workforce will actually lose 4.2% of their total lifetime wages because of their participation in Social Security. A typical third-grader will get back (in present value terms) only 75 cents for every dollar he contributes to Social Security over his lifetime. Meanwhile, many seniors with greater means nearing retirement age will pocket a handsome profit.” (“Generational Theft Needs to Be Arrested,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 14).

And lest anyone believe that paying into Social Security gives them a right to at least some of that money, the 1960 Supreme Court ruling Flemming v. Nestor asserts that no one has a legally binding contractual right to the money they paid in.

So elders today are being supported by younger people who are required to pay into Social Security, but those younger people are unlikely to get back as much as they put in (as Druckenmiller argues), and are legally entitled to literally none of what they put in (as the Supreme Court has ruled).

If there is any better example of generational theft, I have yet to hear of it.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island 

Let candidates write about views without media filter

The media’s approach to presenting information about the candidates for governor is interesting.

The word “information” is the key. The information about Eliot Cutler, Paul LePage and Mike Michaud (alphabetical, not preferential order) seems to be presented in a comparative context or a framework drenched in speculation.

Speculating and touting your favorite is OK, but this isn’t a sporting event. It’s a serious issue about governance.

What I’d like to see – rather than polls or biased statements about candidates – is the media periodically presenting articles authored by each candidate. I’d like to see each candidate’s view of governance, perhaps based on a set of questions about local, state and even national events and issues.

The media could acknowledge to each candidate that what is desired is a non-comparative response to the question. An astute interviewer could do this. Of course, what each presents will be his agenda – that’s the point! Each candidate has a history of performance and has a judgment about their opposition’s stance on issues, but the point is for us to have unfiltered, precise, non-comparative information directly from each candidate.

And one more thing. As popular as polling is, if the results of polls are published, I would urge the media to emphasize the margin of error, pointing out if there is a “statistical” tie, not a big “lead.”

Mark Schwartz

South Portland 

Michaud has popularity, experience to be governor

Mike Michaud can and will win the gubernatorial election in 2014. The numbers show it. In his last congressional election in the 2nd District, Mike received nearly 190,000 votes. Gov. LePage, on the other hand, won with only about 215,00 votes from the whole state. With the votes Michaud will get in the 1st District, he will win in a landslide.

But apart from the numbers, Michaud has been out there all these years, first in the state Legislature, then as a member of Congress. He has been working on behalf of all Mainers, standing up for veterans, for the environment, for civil rights, for women’s rights, for the expansion of MaineCare and for all his constituents. A clear and forceful record. What has Eliot Cutler been doing for Mainers since he last ran for governor three years ago? Has he supported the issues our Maine legislators fought for as they battled Gov. Le Page? No, he was writing a book telling Maine how he would fix us. Thank you, but no thank you.

My vote goes to Mike Michaud.

Sandy Jaeger

Georgetown