Letters 12/17: PERA, Electoral College, and more

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PERA should divest from oil and gas

Pension funds are meant to be invested in stable companies on behalf of employees, as a guarantee for a funded retirement. In Colorado, the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) manages the retirement funds for over 620,000 people. Unfortunately, the Colorado PERA fund has decided to invest upwards of $1.5 billion in oil, gas and coal companies, risking state employees’ retirement funds on a dying industry.

The energy sector has been performing poorly for about a decade, but over the last few years, oil and gas companies have kept a tight grasp on last place in the market. In fact, the energy sector is shrinking so significantly that it only makes up 2% of the S&P 500 Index now. In August 2020, amidst other oil companies’ bankruptcies, Exxon had such a low share price that it was ejected from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Alternatively, a December 2020 assessment of “clean tech” ETF’s (read: nothing in there is directly causing climate change) found that the average gain was 55%. For reference, the Dow Jones only gained 2.9%. Amazingly, renewable energy industries have actually grown during the coronavirus pandemic — in October 2020, shares of solar companies worldwide had more than doubled in value from December 2019. This is a trend we can expect to continue: Wind, solar, and hydro electricity consumption is expected to grow nearly 7% in 2020, amidst a 5% decrease in overall energy demand.

PERA: Given it is your fiduciary duty to make sound investments that pay off, now is the time to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest in renewables. If not to save the planet, then to save Coloradans’ retirement money. Dec. 17 is the PERA Day of Action. Go to fossilfreecopera.org to learn more.

Katie Orton/Longmont

On the Electoral College

The debate has started again as to whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended in order to change the presidential election process. Some promote eliminating the Electoral College in favor of a direct popular vote for president while others believe the Electoral College should remain unchanged. Just as compromise solved the initial problems of the framers, so it is that compromise can solve this problem. The solution is to change the electoral votes to electoral points and reward each candidate a percentage of points based on the percentage of popular votes received in each state.

This would eliminate the “winner take all” system, thus allowing for all the votes to count. A voter is more apt to believe their vote counted when a percentage of popular votes are taken into account rather than the “all or nothing” system currently in existence. Further, this new system would integrate the desire for a popular vote for president with the need for the individual states to determine who actually gets elected.

For 2020, multiplying the percentage of votes each candidate received (in each state) times the number of electoral votes (in each state) results in the following: Biden 267.23 and Trump 252.33. Multiplying the percentage of popular votes each candidate received (nationwide) times the total number of electoral votes (538) results in the following: Biden 274.92 and Trump 253.40.

Joe Bialek/via internet

Fund cultured meat

If President-elect Joe Biden is serious about addressing climate change, he should support federal funding for cultured-meat research. For those who don’t know, cultured meat is grown from cells, without slaughtering our fellow creatures. It will dramatically reduce the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture.

Cultured meat requires a fraction of the land, freshwater and greenhouse-gas emissions that slaughtered flesh does. As Henning Steinfeld of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

The truth is animal agriculture is a leading — if not the leading — cause of global warming. The incoming Biden administration should support development of cultured meat through funding for open-source research. This revolutionary protein will significantly benefit the environment, as well as animal welfare and human health.

Jon Hochschartner/via internet