Letters: 9/13/18

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Science alone can’t solve climate change

My career as a scientist has consistently reaffirmed that there’s often no free lunch: as you solve one problem, you often create another. For example, medicines have a lot of side effects, which are sometimes worse than the ailment they are intended to treat. Another prominent example that I am concerned a lot about is climate change.  The industrial and technological revolutions improved many aspects of life, but the increased carbon emissions that enabled such changes is an unintended consequence.

Tim Radford’s article “Geo-engineered crops may help — and harm” (Re: Boulderganic, Aug. 23, 2018) points out the interesting suggestion that we might be able to mimic the effect of volcanic eruptions by spewing aerosols into the atmosphere, creating a synthetic “sunscreen” that will cool the planet. He discusses research that looked at crop yields after major volcanic eruptions and found that while plants do better with cooler temperatures, they do worse because of the reduced amount of sunlight.

We are at a crucial point where something definitely needs to be done about climate change, which is not just a scientific issue but also an economic issue, since so many large companies are also large polluters. By themselves, scientists often don’t have enough power or influence on a macroeconomic scale, so I think it’s imperative that the government step in and do something. And in that case, why not do something as minimal as possible, such as a tax on carbon? For example, the carbon fee and dividend (CF&D) proposed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) would put a fee on carbon at the source, and then distribute all of the proceeds back to households. The fee envisioned by CCL is progressive, and it doesn’t significantly increase the size of government, meaning it’s agreeable to both political parties. Consumers will be encouraged to make more sustainable choices, as the cost of certain goods and fuels will increase, and companies that have a large carbon footprint will be encouraged to reduce their emissions to stay profitable. Numerous studies, such as those from REMI and Columbia University, have shown that carbon taxes will lead to increased GDP and reduce emissions substantially over the next few decades.

You don’t need to be a scientist to help solve climate change. A simple phone call or email to your elected officials that you care about climate change can make a huge difference!

Steven Moses/Broomfield

Flood anniversary is
cause for pause

Sept.12 marked the five-year anniversary of the 2013 flood and the resulting devastation to people and property in developed areas of its path. Open spaces and agriculture areas were much less affected much than the homes and businesses. Those impacts are immeasurable. Recovery on Longmont’s infrastructure continues with costs exceeding $150 million. Another $60 million is needed to complete projects west of Sunset Street. City staff and contractors have worked hard to restore our St. Vrain Greenway and try to improve the channel to protect people, property and infrastructure from future flooding. But is this possible?

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, there have been 11 floods in Longmont’s reach of the St. Vrain corridor in the last 142 years. Experts on climate change, and common sense, tell us we can expect more frequent damaging flood events in the future. Perhaps rivers are perfectly predictable but only on time scales that are a little beyond the grasp of most planners and developers. River valleys tell us clearly where the river was in the past and where it will go in the future, but some people don’t like the message.

Much as we might like to, we can’t mitigate Mother Nature.

Longmont Planning Department has a “Blueprint for Development” begun prior to the 2013 flood with designs for very extensive development along this corridor. There are 800-plus acres of private-owned property that were previously in the flood plain and, therefore, undevelopable. Now, due to massive publicly funded mitigation efforts with new parameters of the flood plain, these properties are developable and their value has skyrocketed. Their owners are anxious to start developing and making money.   

But does more development along our St. Vrain even make sense? Perhaps, but only if considerably set back from the banks of the creek. This not only protects people and property, but also the riparian health of the creek. Eighty-ninety percent of all wildlife is dependent on riparian habitat for survival.

The 2013 flood was a wake up call. Five years later, it appears we may go back to sleep unless we limit future new or re-development along this corridor. It’s the responsible thing to do logically, morally, environmentally and fiscally.

Shari Malloy/Longmont

Keep fracking away from homes and schools

I was eager to sign the petition to get Safer Setbacks for Oil and Gas (#112) on the ballot, and I am overjoyed that we will get to vote on this in November.

Fracking is an inherently dangerous industrial process that does not belong near our neighborhoods. When you combine fracking’s intrinsic danger with the fact that much of the oil/gas product is exported, that the industry costs taxpayers more than it gives, and that Colorado does not need to rely on this form of energy, you have to wonder why we would ever submit to living in such close proximity to oil and gas development.

Since the explosion of a home in Firestone last year, Colorado has experienced at least 14 fires and explosions at oil and gas sites, some resulting in death or serious injury. More than 247,000 Coloradans live within half a mile of a well, and more than 140 schools are situated within half a mile, which is closer than the average evacuation distance in case of a blowout.

Please join me in voting yes on Safer Setbacks for health and safety over fracking. Thank you for caring more for the health and wellbeing of our citizens than the profit/bottom line of the oil and gas companies.

Jacqueline Wurn/Boulder

Gardner should take the lead on climate

I am writing to second Randy Compton’s Aug. 23 call to pressure Sen. Gardner to support a national price on carbon (Re: “Solutions for climate change,” Letters). Indeed, this is a priority that could both sit well alongside other legislative efforts of our senator, and elevate him to a leadership role on an issue that his Republican colleagues are beginning to get on board with.

Last month, Sen. Gardner urged senate leadership to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the face of its impending Sept. 30 expiration. The LWCF, established in 1964, is a program that serves to protect some of America’s most precious natural areas, and to promote outdoor recreation. Sen. Gardner should be applauded for his support of it.

As Sen. Gardner has demonstrated his support for America’s natural treasures, he should be aware that support for the LWCF will not be enough. Carbon emissions that the LWCF is incapable of addressing threaten our entire planet’s wealth of natural beauty. But, understandably, many Republicans do not favor overly constricting government regulations placed on the businesses responsible for supplying our society’s indispensable energy. There is, however, a way out.

A carbon tax — a simple price put on the extraction of carbon-emitting fossil fuels from the Earth — puts the market, not big government, on the front line in the battle against climate change. Think Republicans won’t hear of it? In July, Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) proposed a price on carbon. And the turn of conservative attention to climate change is here to stay. As Mr. Compton points out in his letter, 68 percent of Americans support a revenue-neutral price on carbon. And with wildfires and hurricanes wreaking worse damage on our livelihoods and our economy by the year, the underlying issue isn’t going away either.

I sincerely believe that, in ten years’ time, there will be herds of Republican senators and congressmen supporting fiscally responsible approaches to damping emissions rates. But the ones that will stand head and shoulders above their colleagues, in my eyes, will be the ones like Carlos Curbelo and Brian Fitzpatrick that take the lead, when there is not yet a political necessity for doing so. I would love for the Republican senator from my state to be counted among those ranks.

Daniel Palken/Boulder

Radford wrong on geo-engineering

With great interest, I read “Geo-engineered crops may help — and harm” by Tim Radford in the Aug. 23 Boulder Weekly (Re: Boulderganic). Sadly, Radford, a former science editor at the Guardian, continues the myth that large-scale geo-engineering is a proposal for the future, not the present reality.

Mr. Radford tells us that to deal with the possible starvation caused by global warming, we might have to spray our skies sometime in the future. I’m surprised that Mr. Radford doesn’t know that countries around the globe have been engaged in Solar Radiation Management (SRM) for decades. There are 21.6 million links to SRM on Google, not exactly a paucity of information on the topic.

SRM is a form of climate engineering that involves spraying highly toxic heavy metal and chemical aerosols from airplanes into the atmosphere.  Although SRM is supposed to mitigate climate change by reflecting heat back out into the atmosphere, it is in fact fueling the overall warming of the planet due to the fact that the aerosols form clouds that trap heat.

You may have seen airplanes spraying these aerosols and the resultant clouds. These clouds are not regular jet engine contrails of water vapor, a myth that has been propagated by the government and the media to keep the public in the dark and to assuage their concerns.

We can see with our own eyes the trails left by the planes spraying the aerosols and the resultant clouds that linger for hours and hours. We all know from our own experience that when we breathe out on a cold day, the water vapor that forms does not linger for hours, but disappears very quickly. These clouds are not water vapor.

Eventually the metal aerosols float down to the earth and wreak havoc on the planet and its inhabitants. SRM is contributing to extreme drought, flooding, storms, forest devastation and forest fires. SRM also kills bees and causes health problems. In combination with powerful radio frequencies, the aerosols destroy the earth’s ozone layer,

Although the government denies SRM is occurring, available data confirms widespread deployment of SRM programs. Data includes precipitation tests from around the world that confirm that alarming levels of aluminum, barium and strontium (named in geoengineering patents) are saturating our breathable air column. Tests of blood, urine and hair confirm extreme buildup of these toxins in humans.

There are links to many government documents, including a 750-page U.S. Senate report, as well as other data at the highly scientific website www.geoengineeringwatch.org. I urge you to do your own research. Don’t assume you are getting the truth from the government or the media.

Is Mr. Radford ignorant or is he hiding something? You decide.

Carolyn Bninski/Boulder

Speak out for a better world

Have we made progress since “the world turned upside down” in 1968? (Re: “The long shadow of 1968,” The Anderson Files, Aug. 23, 2018) The generation that asked their government for a better world, mostly did so via protest. Now we work with our members of Congress to bring about change by peaceful means. Not that protests aren’t happening, but groups like RESULTS (results.org) are teaching citizens to speak out as activists for a better world. Currently RESULTS volunteers are working to get Congress to adopt the Senate version of the Farm Bill that protects SNAP (formerly food stamps), thus avoiding an unnecessary increase in hunger. Preventable deaths of millions of mothers and children in our world are also being addressed with the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. Since 1990, these deaths have been more than cut in half, the Reach Act will help bring an end to those deaths. Time to turn the world upside down in a positive way, using the spirit of 1968 to really make a difference with our calls, letters and visits to those who represent us in Congress.

Willie Dickerson/via internet

On Trumpism

By any standard, Donald Trump is a chauvinist, sexist, racist, capitalist pig. That he has a sizable and avid following willing to overlook his blatant boorishness speaks worlds to the grasp white identity holds still in America’s self-image. White men and their dutiful wives made America the great nation it rose to be. Brown-skinned people were but riders on the train. Despite it being 82 years since Jesse Owens, in the 1936 Olympics, first shattered the myth of Aryan superiority, with sports now exemplifying successful integration, Donald Trump has been masterful in sensing and manipulating white anxiety over lost standing and influence, particularly as evidenced by the election of Barack Obama. His early embrace of the “birther” movement and his current railings at black athletes protesting racial injustices are rallying cries to his anxious base, and here the Republican Party, ever hungry for power with gerrymandering and voter suppression, has tagged along like a ragged street gang following the neighborhood bully. Overall, it is a disturbing phenomenon.

Robert Porath/Boulder