Letters 9/2/21

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A Canary in the Coal Mine

I was mystified and dismayed to learn that a pelican was found dead in the water at Union Reservoir on August 17.  A request was made to have a necropsy completed on the bird but to my knowledge none was ever carried out.

The air quality monitoring report for Union Reservoir for that day showed that the toxic chemicals benzine and toluene were both at high levels. That raises the question of whether it was air pollution that caused the death of the birds, or perhaps the water itself was polluted with fracking waste.  I also wonder why the city wasn’t concerned enough to at least do a necropsy on the bird. After all, whatever caused these avian death may be putting the lives of human residents, including children, at risk. This pelican may be our canary in the coal mine.

The city has installed an excellent air monitoring station, yet there does not seem to be any effective response to its discovery of high levels of air pollution.  For example, high readings do not trigger notification to the state health department or initiate a warning to alert residents in a timely and objective manner about the readings.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves.  Due to fracking, Longmont has a heavy industrial operation on the north side of Union along with plugged and abandoned wells that may be leaking chemicals into our air and water.  Prudence dictates that we all should be concerned about the pollutants that come along with fracking.

Judy Lubow/Longmont

Feed animals without harming animals

I was happy to learn there will soon be options available for those of us who want to feed our pets without harming other animals. I’m talking about pet food made from cultured meat. For those who don’t know, cultured meat is grown from cells, without slaughter. 

While some companies have been developing these products for human consumption, a Philadelphia-based startup—Because, Animals—has been making them for our furry companions. The company recently debuted its first offering, a cat cookie made from cultured mouse meat, at an industry trade show in Las Vegas.

Compassionate voters should urge their legislators to support federal investment in cellular agriculture. This will help bring cultured meat to market faster, at a competitive price, for both pets and humans. Besides the animal welfare benefits, this revolutionary protein is better for the environment and public health.

Jon Hochschartner/Granby

Two seconds of freedom 

I think of the hundreds of millions of people who suffered unspeakable deaths from ravages of smallpox, bubonic plague, yellow fever, polio, AIDS, and dozens of other viral killers. What would they have given for easy access to an effective prevention method? 

And yet many of the most spoiled people who have ever lived on planet earth won’t touch the shot, hating the thought of losing some two seconds of their precious freedom. 

One lady in Arizona offered to take up arms against any who would force her to be vaccinated. I would venture she has never publicly avowed to do the same for her freedom of speech, press, religion, or her right to live and work where she wants. Freedom from the needle is greater than all of them for her. 

Life expectancy in the first decade of the 2000s astonishingly declined for three straight years due to the petulant desire of Americans to treat their bodies however they want. But in 2020, we saw an aggregate yearly decline of anywhere from 14 to 39 times those earlier yearly drops, depending upon ethnicity, according to Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Those two seconds of militantly asserted freedom by anti-civic Americans is costing their neighbors dearly.  

Kimball Shinkoskey/Woods Cross

Farm to school culture

Not often do we consider the possibilities that emerge from a school cafeteria.

Most of the time, they’re places where students enjoy a break, eat a meal, and socialize with friends. The cafeteria is, absolutely, all of these things, but it’s also much more as many groups are realizing. Our school cafeterias can be transformed into both the largest classrooms and restaurants in the nation.

From the farmer to the teacher to the school food service director, farm to school programs are a network of stakeholders with each offering unique expertise to benefit the health and education of our students.

Across the country, we are seeing more partnerships form as students selling garden harvest in local farmers markets and local farmers allow students to grow seedlings in their greenhouses. Food service directors and farmers are realizing that few barriers exist to prevent the purchase of local food.

The biggest factor is often the relationship building between school and farmer. It doesn’t only have to be vegetables either, local beef has become more accessible and popular.

As we move into a new school year, there are many ways to get involved. October is Farm to School Month and many districts will be hosting activities. In our home state of Nebraska, many schools participate in a Crunch Off, a competition to get the largest number of students to crunch into fresh fruits and vegetables.

For resources on bringing farm to school to your community, follow the Center for Rural Affairs and the National Farm to School Network.

Justin Carter/Omaha

Anderson’s great idea

What a great idea: a $3.5 trillion “investment in the American people!” (see: Anderson Files, Aug. 19)  How do we make sure this passes Congress?  Speak up to your members of Congress, senators and representative (202-224-3121), reminding them that this is an investment in you and that your vote is contingent on it.  Of course thanking President Biden for this initiative (202-456-1111) will be a helpful reminder that this is definitely the right course.  Our voices matter, use yours!

Willie Dickerson/Snohomish

End the Filibuster

We understand President Biden is busy. But I can’t help thinking about how his support for abolishing the filibuster in the Senate could help him enact his agenda on all fronts. Most importantly, it could help Biden protect Americans’ freedom to vote in the face of relentless attacks on our democracy.

We need Congress to pass comprehensive voting rights reform and we need Biden to step up and put pressure on the Senate to do so by publicly supporting an end to the filibuster. Biden’s stated support for voting rights reform simply isn’t enough.

President Biden, for the sake of my right to vote and the progressive agenda we elected you to enact, urge the Senate to abolish the filibuster.

Anita Fizer/Boulder

Funding cultured meat

As coronavirus cases surge to levels not seen since last winter, Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet should get serious about preventing the next pandemic, specifically by funding cultured-meat research. For readers who aren’t familiar with the term, cultured meat is grown from animal cells, without slaughter. It offers important benefits to public health.

Because livestock are removed from the process of making cultured meat, the danger of zoonotic viruses making the jump to humans is drastically reduced. While the origins of COVID-19 are debated, the fact remains that animal agriculture greatly increases our pandemic risk. Legislators concerned with public health should support federal funding for cultured-meat research.

Jon Hochschartner/Granby