Roughly Speaking Dan Rodricks: Commentary and conversation on life in Baltimore, Maryland and the USA

Note to Andy Harris: There's no credible debate about climate change anymore

Nobody asked me, but somebody at Sunday afternoon’s debate in Easton between Rep. Andy Harris and his Democratic challenger, Jesse Colvin, should ask the incumbent Republican about the recent United Nations forecast on the effects of climate change. The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change basically said we have about 20 years to change our ways before we start feeling the severe effects of the warming planet. That likely would include accelerated sea-level rise in the Chesapeake Bay, much of which is in Harris’ 1st District.

Bob Wein of Bel Air, a Republican constituent of Harris, wrote to the congressman to ask if he was concerned about the urgent U.N. report. He was, Harris wrote back, but added that “there are many different projections for the pace of climate change” and “differing analysis for the degree of causality assigned to types of emissions.”

Wrong, says Maryland’s top climate scientist, Don Boesch, until last year the president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “It is a totally bogus hedge, similar to [President] Trump's response that he wanted to look into who ‘drew’ the report because ‘some reports are fabulous and some are not so good,’” says Boesch. “The ‘many different projections for the pace of climate change’ that have any scientific legitimacy are remarkably convergent and thoroughly considered in the latest U.N. report. ... It is only such groups as the Heartland Institute that have offered alternate projections, and they have no scientific credibility compared to the 91 bona fide experts who are the authors of the IPCC.”

As for “causality,” says Boesch, the IPCC and other scientific panels concluded that all of the warming since the 1800s has been caused by human activities, predominantly the emissions of greenhouse gases. Boesch’s bottom line: “There is really no credible scientific debate about this.”

Nobody asked me, but, if I was Lorne Michaels, the creator and producer of “Saturday Night Live,” I might write back to Lt. Gene Ryan, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, to say this: Do you really have time to be complaining about a late-night comedy sketch?

Didn’t I read somewhere that Baltimore is one of the most violent cities in America? Doesn’t the B in BPD stand for Beleaguered? When you write an open letter, sir, it might be best to address it to the citizens of Baltimore to assure them that the men and women of the BPD are doing everything possible to make the city safer and to ask them for help in solving crimes. You could also call out for new recruits to fill your ranks.

It’s understandable why Ryan is self-conscious about any kind of criticism these days. But SNL did not really single out the BPD in the “Thirsty Cops” sketch. No one in the sketch utters the word “Baltimore.” The actors might have been wearing Baltimore Police Department patches, and the men and women of the BPD might take that as a slap against them. But, really, the joke could have been on any department anywhere. If anyone could take offense, it should be women in uniform. The sketch portrayed female officers making a traffic stop to get a look at Seth Meyers’ backside.

I don’t know what you’re expecting, Lt. Ryan, but if “Thirsty Cops” generates some decent buzz — and your widely reported letter might have helped give it legs — then SNL might keep on doing it because, in television comedy, as they say, “You never cut funny.”

Nobody asked me, but Baltimoreans should give a shout-out to Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle for his decision to pull 230 officers off administrative duties for patrol work to combat the violence. But I still think Mayor Catherine Pugh should ask the Maryland governor and Baltimore County executive for help investigating and clearing homicides by loaning the city some experienced officers.

I ran that idea by a veteran detective. He thought it wouldn’t work for this reason: “The Maryland State Police and even the Baltimore County police would not be able to handle the environmental differences that the city holds.”

But the next day, after my Sun colleagues reported yet another episode of chaos at the upper ranks of the department, the officer got back to me with this comment: “No commander in their right mind would send their officers into this dysfunctional cesspool of an agency.” Well now. Whoever the new commissioner is, hopefully that person will be of right mind — tough, smart and demanding. Hopefully that person is empowered to make big, bold changes. Hopefully that person comes to the BPD with an ambition to make it stand for the Best Police Department in the country. And hopefully that person has faithfully filed all his income tax returns.

Nobody asked me, but I’ll share a thought about the change of seasons: Nothing takes off the chill like chowder.

drodricks@baltsun.com

twitter.com/DanRodricks

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
41°