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Picking the rush hour traffic eastbound and westbound on Interstate 10, activists put banners over the highway on the Nairn Drive overpass protesting climate change Friday Sept. 20, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

James Gill’s column (“How Thunberg could reduce her carbon footprint”) was fine entertainment but tended to grate in places. We read: “It is idiotic to drive your car, air-condition your house and use any of a billion plastic products while demonizing the companies that made it all possible.”

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Unless, of course, those same companies made it all not just possible, but unavoidable, by controlling a century of public policy. The record runs long, so let’s scratch the surface with some fresh instances. The New York Times (Dec. 13, 2018) exposed massive, covert lobbying and Facebook campaigns by Marathon, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Phillips 66, Koch Industries (Valero) and others to reverse EPA motor fuel economy standards. Just the title of another Times piece (June 19, 2018) says plenty: “How the Koch Brothers are Killing Public Transportation Projects around the Country.” It is not idiotic, but oddly culpatory to blame consumers for choices someone works so hard to deny them.

Gill describes U.S. Rep. Garret Graves as “not belonging to the Neanderthal wing of the GOP that denies mankind is warming the planet.” Yes, Graves has spoken some faintly science-compatible words lately. Memes from the coal lobby, like “climate is always changing” no longer seem to dominate his outlook. If his views get any more enlightened, they’ll catch up with official oil industry pronouncements from 10 years ago. (BP publicly acknowledged climate science back in the 1990s.)

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Give credit where it’s due: As reported in the Sunday Advocate (July 21) Graves voted against a Republican amendment to strip funding from the National Intelligence Budget for a Climate Security Advisory Council (HR3494). This is the Garret we want to encourage; if he means to change his spots, we should make it easy for him. But we’ll want a little more in the way of deeds, the kind of deeds that have not characterized his record hitherto. Curious readers may examine this record. The League of Conservation Voters (see lists his climate (and other environmental) votes since 2015. There is quite a lot in there for him to reconsider. A few more interviews with Greta Thunberg might help to school him down a greener path.

Michael Beck


Baton Rouge