Letters: Earth Day, Not Normal, Divest

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Standing

A breeze strokes the pine limbs, creating a windborne symphony. We encircle one tree, joining hands. This tree might have greeted the first peoples who climbed this rocky terrain. Her shiny sap sticks to my chin. We hug her tighter.
Near April Fools’ Day, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by an alliance of environmental groups. That lawsuit had challenged the decision of the Army Corp of Engineers to issue a permit to Denver Water for the expansion of Gross Reservoir. This dismissal was no laughing matter.

The pine tree symphonies heard near Gross COULD be replaced by the metallic grind of lumber trucks. It has been estimated that 500,000 trees would be cut down IF the Gross Reservoir expansion is allowed to proceed. The words “could” and “if” were capitalized, in the previous sentence, to emphasize the hope that the proposed expansion of Gross can still be stopped. Hope that it can be stopped in spite of the recent legal decision.

Hope that might be found in Colorado House Bill 1041. There is precedent of the 1041 process being used to stop development. I urge the Boulder County Commissioners to use the bill’s full authority to stop the expansion of Gross Reservoir. Yes, I speak for the trees. In spite of having stood above Boulder for centuries, they have no legal standing.
Kirsten Marshall/Boulder


Replace meat this earth day

With Earth Day on April 22, we have reduced our carbon footprint by curtailing travel and our thermostat. We recycle. But we can do so much more by cutting our consumption of animal meat and milk products. Yes, that.

A recent article in The Guardian argues that animal agriculture is a major driver of climate change, as well as air and water pollution, depletion of soil and water resources, and destruction of wildlife habitats. Oxford University’s prestigious Food Climate Research Network reports that solving the global warming catastrophe requires a massive shift to plant-based eating. The Netflix feature Seaspiracy documents the devastating environmental impacts of the fishing industry.
In an environmentally sustainable world, we must replace meat, fish and dairy products with vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains, just as we replace fossil fuels with wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.

Each of us has a unique opportunity to heal our planet by transitioning to plant-based eating. We can begin with the one-minute NY Times diet quiz. Then, let’s celebrate Earth Day by checking out the rich variety of plant-based meat and dairy products at our supermarket. The internet offers ample advice and recipes.
Stanley Silver/Boulder

Not normal

I am glad to read that Boulder Weekly is planning to talk more about the livestream of the March 22 mass shooting in Boulder. (Re: News, “How the media covers mass shootings has evolved. But is it better?” April 1). This is not journalism. This is the sensationalization and commoditization of a tragedy.

I watched the price of this shoddy footage go from around $87 to over $200 in the week following this horrific act of violence. I will not name this self-described “citizen journalist.”

A mass shooting is traumatizing enough on its own. A livestream account only serves to further compound the trauma. The fact that the livestream still exists on YouTube’s platform today further exacerbates the trauma.

It seems as though people are accepting the livestream as a “normal” part of our society now, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us to be even more reliant on our devices. Some people might go a step further and argue that this type of footage is necessary in order for there to be change. I will remind them that it is possible to record without livestreaming.

This type of behavior, left unchecked in society, will only continue to increase in number and lead to further normalization and desensitization to violent, tragic acts. We cannot continue to go in the direction where these types of tragedies can be broadcast to thousands of people to watch in the palm of their hand in real time. We have created this society that prioritizes likes, clicks, views and subscribers — which means we can change it.

Facebook tightened restrictions on livestreaming in the aftermath of the Christchurch, New Zealand, mass shooting where the shooter broadcast their attack on Facebook Live. Platforms like YouTube need to be held accountable when they see content like this going viral and take a more active role in reducing harm. I also hope that we can hold our media outlets to higher moral and ethical standards. I urge them to pause and think before purchasing this type of footage and amplifying it on their channels.

We all need to do better — out of respect for the families of those our Boulder community lost and for humanity as a whole. 

B Goodell/Boulder

Divest PERA

As Colorado endures one of our driest years on record, the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) is investing Coloradan’s public money into destructive fossil fuel companies. It is time for PERA to divest from the fossil fuel industry; it is a bad investment and an immoral use of public money.

My mom teaches here in Colorado. We live in Lyons, and this past October we watched the Calwood fire burn within miles of our home. It is unjust that her money unwillingly funds the destruction of our communities, and almost our home.

PERA continues to profit off these investments which entirely depend on the poisoning of our communities and the worsening of the climate crisis. However, these investments will not lead to profit for long. In recent years, the number of U.S. oil and gas companies filing for bankruptcy has climbed, and those in Colorado are no exception. Our state is the fifth highest state for the number of oil and gas companies that have filed for bankruptcy. A recent study conducted by Corporate Knights estimates that PERA is valued at at least $1.77 billion less than it would have been had it divested from fossil fuels 10 years ago. Furthermore, a recent report by BlackRock, the world’s largest investment house, shows that those who have divested from fossil fuels have profited financially.

Therefore, PERA’s continued investment in the fossil fuel industry is not only illogical, but it is embarrassing. By investing in the fossil fuel industry, PERA is investing in Colorado’s destruction. 

I call on PERA to invest public funds toward a more sustainable, more just and more beautiful Colorado.
Megan Neufeld/Silver Creek High School, Lyons

Welcome to Boulder

In late February, a caucus of Republican legislators wrote a three-page memo to rally opposition to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Highlighting “liberal goodies” in the bill, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) explained that his group had put together a fact sheet “to educate Americans exactly how their taxpayer dollars are being spent by Democrats.” (Mother Jones, April 5, 2021). There it was again, invoked as usual to block government aid: the myth of the “taxpayer” and their “dollars.”

There may be no direct connection between this “fact” sheet and the recent letter by Brett Kingstone, but it’s the same talking points. So, if Mr. Kingstone wishes to increase the diversity of thought in local publications, I would suggest he quote someone other than Rep. Jim Banks and his ilk. This man is so concerned about the deficit that he voted for an unfunded mandate of $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, primarily to billionaires. And of course he slavishly supported a man who told over 20,000 lies and whose inactions led to the deaths of over a half million Americans. I would be more than a little skeptical. Facts and hypocrisy may not matter to Republicans but I think Mr. Kingstone will soon discover that they do matter here. Welcome to Boulder.
Jim Wilkinson/Boulder