Soap Box

Save the world, one cart at a time
08/16/2018

To the editor,

With scorching heat and raging wildfires in the West and torrential downpours and massive flooding in the East, global warming is not just about a gentle sea rise any more. These tragic consequences of dumping greenhouse gases into our atmosphere call for drastic remedies.

For starters, we should re-join the Paris Climate Accords and actually become a world leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One of the most effective ways is by changing our diet.

Yes, that. Last fall, Oxford University’s prestigious Food Climate Research Network concluded that solving the global warming catastrophe requires massive shift to a plant-based diet. A 2010 United Nations report blamed animal agriculture for 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 70 percent of freshwater use and 38 percent of land use.

Carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by transporting animals. The more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

In an environmentally sustainable world, we must replace meat and dairy products in our diet with vegetables, fruits and grains, just as we replace fossil fuels by wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources.

Let’s start with our next supermarket visit.

– Dante Gomez, Durango

Time to bag the plastic habit
08/16/2018

To the editor,

Take stock of all the plastic around you –cell phone, clothes, shoes and it just keeps going. With the introduction of plastic in the ’50s, our use of it has expanded such that we consume about 450 million tons each year. Of that, around 40 percent is disposable. And our oceans are where the majority of that plastic ends up. Imagine five plastic garbage bags stuffed with plastic, on every foot of coastline worldwide, and you’ll be close. A World Economic Forum report stated that the world’s oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050! Not too hard to believe considering the thousands of fish, seabirds and other marine animals that die yearly from stomachs full of plastic they’ve mistaken for food. Or else they die from entanglement in plastic fishing nets. How about this ... every minute a garbage truck worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean, 24/7.

But what about recycling? About 20 percent of plastic worldwide gets recycled. In the U.S., it’s less than 10 percent. And then there’s the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. Some 100 billion are produced yearly, which means each day everyone in the U.S. can toss one out. Just in

Colorado, an estimated 2 billion disposable plastic bags are used by shoppers each year. In 2015, the EPA found that only 9 percent of all plastic bags are recycled, 12 percent are incinerated and 79 percent go to the landfill. Considering that China’s new “National Sword” policy now rejects cheap plastics (Nos. 3-7), and requires a near unobtainable 0.5 percent contamination rate, why not ban single-use plastic and boycott buying product using 3-7 plastic?

Or start small and enact a plastic bag ban locally, like Aspen, Breckenridge, Carbondale, Boulder, Avon and Basalt did? Or maybe a 10 cent per disposable bag fee to encourage using your own reusable bags and to help pay for recycling?

But as with all solutions, it starts with us, our actions, or the buying of, and use of, plastics, and our speaking out or voting to stop that which is polluting our world. As Mark Thompson of Phoenix Recycling said in last week’s Telegraph “Recycling has to be done with a lot of integrity.” I propose we go a step further, to responsibility (for the planet, ourselves and the less responsible, too), and ban cheap plastics and single-use plastic bags. After all, we somehow managed without them before the ’50s, and the world was a lot healthier for it!

– Tim Thomas, Durango

New solutions to an old argument
08/16/2018

To the editor,

I am inspired by the youth in the conservative party. They seem to have some things figured out better than us old fogies. Well – at least some things!

They understand that the climate is changing; warming temperatures are causing havoc, and they recognize that their generation will have to pay for and suffer the consequences of inaction.

I appreciate this statement from conservative college student Jacob Abel: “One of the problems is the conversations around climate change tend toward left vs. right, action vs. inaction, believers vs. deniers. Also stale, the solutions on the table default toward big government, rapid renewable integration ideas that may not be realistic yet have been passed around for decades. Yes, we need renewables – they are the future – but how can we integrate renewable energy while transitioning away from fossil fuels without creating too negative an impact on communities that rely on fossil fuel production?” He adds, “Organizations such as RepublicEN, which advocates for free-market based solutions to climate change have the right idea: put a price on carbon, ensure the revenues remain neutral (i.e. don’t grow the government but instead use to offset a tax cut or provide a dividend to citizens) and watch innovation soar. Utilizing both the technologies of the past and innovations of the future is the best way forward.”

Kudos to Abel and all our youth for recognizing we need policy change from our representatives to change the current trajectory. I hope Sen. Gardner and Rep. Tipton are listening.

– Ed Atkinson, Durango

A thank you to all of the locals
08/16/2018

To the editor,

It’s been a tough summer: wildfires, smoke, mudslides. We all know someone affected in some way. As a downtown merchant, I would like to thank the locals for coming down to support the stores and restaurants. I would also like to encourage my friends who own shops and eateries downtown to hang in there!

We will get through this together. During times like these, there is no other place I would rather be than Durango.

We will emerge stronger than ever.

– Karyn Gabaldon, Durango

To keep long-term rights, act now
08/09/2018

To the editor,

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court raises many troubling questions, but for me this question is critical: 40 years from now, will the American people have fewer rights and opportunities than we do now?

Judge Kavanaugh has consistently decided against working people’s rights, consumers’ rights, voting rights, women’s rights, the right to privacy, and science-based protections for our environment and public health. He has been outright hostile to the Affordable Care Act and the more overarching idea that all Americans need access to quality, affordable health care. He has turned a blind eye to elderly Americans and their retirement security. He consistently favors large, multinational corporations and Wall Street over Main Street and the majority of Americans. His decisions have aimed to overturn fundamental legal protections and advances gained throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, striking at the heart of our American Dream.

Many have referred to Kavanaugh as “an originalist,” a jurist committed to interpreting our Constitution “as it is written.” Since 1787, we the people have worked to expand human rights, civil rights and equal protection under the law for ALL, not just a privileged few. Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence aims to roll back these advances while – ironically – also lending legal weight to something that emphatically was NOT in our 1787 Constitution: corporate personhood.

His decisions suggest that he does not realize or does not care that the economic opportunity ladder in our country is now missing critical rungs for the middle class due in part to recent court cases that unabashedly favor large corporations over employees and consumers.

Members of the U.S. House have no direct authority on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominees, but our representatives do have the responsibility to protect our rights through Legislation. House members have the duty to check and balance the powers of the Executive and Judicial branches, but Scott Tipton has proven that he is unwilling to protect what voters in the 3rd Congressional District value. Now – more than ever – we need a congresswoman who can effectively legislate and protect the interests of all the people.

If you are as committed as I am to ensuring that in 40 years we all have fundamental legal protections and real economic opportunities, please consider funneling your concern into action. Our campaign needs as many volunteers as we can get.

– Diane Mitsch Bush, Democratic nominee for Congress