Letters: 12/7/17

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Against the public lands giveaway

This week, in referring to his recent decision to shrink national monuments in Utah and open them up to land and energy developers, President Trump said, “Up until now these lands have been managed by a small group of bureaucrats far away in Washington, D.C.” He conveniently forgot to add that all federal lands are owned by the American people much like our national forests, and we all have access to them, except of course, those lands with energy development leases, where public access is limited due to public safety issues. What he did intentionally, though not mentioned at all, is hand over the land to a small group of energy and land developers who will limit all Americans’ access to these lands. As usual, he twists the truth to his liking of money interests only — not ethics, not freedoms, just money. Similarly, he twisted the truth by rationalizing the crimes of his election advisors as excuses for the Clinton campaign losing, when in fact (supported by two guilty pleas to date) his team was doing whatever they could, even if illegal, to try to win a race they thought they were going to lose.

If there was ever a time for revolution, not against our government, but against this single man, it is now.

Michael Ortiz/Lafayette

Acting on behalf of that for which we are thankful

This year at Thanksgiving, as I was meditating on the things in my life that I am most thankful for, I had occasion to think especially on the role of our natural environment in my high quality of life. Everything from the high concentration of mountains in my leisure-time activity, to the simple and often taken for granted cleanliness of the air and water I inhale and ingest, contributes to the fantastic lifestyle that Boulder affords me.

Our environment was foremost on my mind at Thanksgiving because it has been foremost on my mind for the past few months, ever since I joined a lobbying group in town that calls themselves the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL, for short). I joined CCL in part due to the 2016 election, where I felt disempowered and afraid for the future of our country and our world. The threats posed by climate change are, as Thanksgiving highlights for me, threats to many things that I value. But more than that, they are threats to the valuable natural resources and landscapes that we will pass on to future generations.

The foremost thing that I have learned from my time in CCL, and some wisdom that I very much want to pass on to anyone reading this, is that the most effective way to fight climate change, is, in their estimation (and now in mine as well), the passing of a national carbon pricing policy. What the policy would do is put a reasonable fee on the extraction of any greenhouse gas-emitting elements from the Earth.

The effectiveness of the carbon fee approach stems from its being a minimally intrusive intervention. Governments, notoriously bad at picking economic winners, cede that task to the market itself. And, as an added bonus, the central role of the market in the solution to our climate problem piques the interest of many conservatives who are seeking a fiscally responsible approach. The money raised by the carbon fee under CCL’s proposed legislation is returned to tax-payers as a dividend.

So this holiday season, let’s not just think hard about what we are thankful for. Let’s act to make sure we can be thankful for it in future years: pick up your phone, call your congressmen, and urge them to support the carbon fee and dividend.

Daniel Palken/Boulder

Not so big fish story

As an environmental studies major, I completely agree that stopping the global warming crisis is crucial to the survival of not only humans, but all species on this beautiful planet. I also greatly appreciate the extreme measures Paul Danish (Re: “A very big fish story,” Danish Plan, Aug. 17, 2017) is willing to take to stop climate change.

Jill U. Adams states in the Washington Post there has been a “[rise] of 1 degree from just the start of the 20th century” and “air pollution is killing 3.3 million people a year worldwide including 55,000 Americans.” Climate change is by far one of the most important problems that we all must tackle together if we are going to stop it from destroying our planet.

While I think we should all work together to stop climate change, “fertilizing the seas with iron,” like Danish describes, is extreme, unsuitable and an unrealistic way to stop climate change. We should be focusing on renewable resources and ocean salinity, instead of trying to drastically change our waters more so then we already have.

John Martin’s proposal to add iron into our waters is not tested enough. There must have been a reason that Martin’s proposal was banned. If we allow iron to be put into our waters, then the algae that grows alongside iron will boom, ultimately affecting other ecosystems. Reed Karaim, who writes for the Washington Post and Smithsonian, says that “we could be losing 150 to 200 species per day.” Do you want more destruction to our already decaying marine ecosystems? By letting algae and phytoplankton over-populate, we would be causing other viable species’ populations to be damaged.

I agree that it is a good idea to use iron for “ocean restoration” and to “restore collapsing fisheries by creating plankton pastures for fish to feed on.” However, the reasoning behind Danish’s idea is absurd. Escalating the fish population so that fisheries could start fishing at maximum levels again, even though this has historically lead to endangerment and extinction of many different fish, makes it seem like he’s looking out for fisheries rather than fish. I find it more reasonable to use the iron to repopulate our fish, but keep the regulations in place for fishing. Some believe that gradually withdrawing giant factory ship fleets will restore some of the depleted species to optimal levels. We don’t need to add iron into our waters to restore fish population, we just need to do two things: regulate fisheries and stop ocean acidification.

The best way to solve climate change is to use renewable resources such as hydro-, solar and wind power. Oil, gas and coal are still the number one sources of power in the world. While cheap and easy to get, they burn fossil fuels and excrete harmful greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide into the air we breathe. “In one town of Minnesota, [a wind farm] will have the capacity to power 90,000 homes per year.” Imagine if we utilized this wind power all over the globe. “Renewable energy only counts for 8 percent of all of [U.S.] sources of energy,” meaning the remaining 91 percent is exerting harmful gases into the atmosphere. What does this have to do with releasing iron into the oceans? While we focus on taking out CO2 from the atmosphere, we are still continuing to add more CO2 in. Instead, we should be focusing on how to stop putting in harmful chemicals into our air. Renewable resources release virtually no harmful emissions into the atmosphere or the oceans.

When it comes to climate change, it will take global support to introduce renewable resources. I hope more people realize the dire need to introduce renewable resources into our energy industries.

Emily Herrmann/Boulder