Soap Box

Tipton's anti-environment stance
01/02/2020

To the editor,

Rep. Scott Tipton voted no on the recent Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act – about the designation of certain wilderness areas, recreation management areas and conservation areas in the state of Colorado. Tipton is failing to lead on public land and wilderness protection, even though outdoor recreation is a huge economic boon to our state’s economy.

His recent vote joins a long list of past anti-environment stances. According to Wikipedia, “He rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. He argues that climate change is driven by natural climate cycles. He opposes the Paris Agreement, the international agreement which mitigates greenhouse gas emissions. He opposes federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. He voted in favor of legislation that would make it easier to sell federal public lands. In 2010, while serving in the State Legislature, Tipton voted against legislation to compel Xcel Energy to convert three coal powered plants to natural gas power plants. He also voted against legislation to require electric utilities to use more renewable energy.”

Tipton’s pro-pollution agenda is locking our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions into an upward trajectory, increasing the likelihood of future wildfire devastation, drought-damaged crops and compromised winter tourism. Colorado’s economy is at risk.

– Jo Ann Kopke, Bayfield

Only one side to climate change
01/02/2020

To the editor,

“(Climate change) is not fear mongering. It is science.” – Time magazine

Durango School District 9-R could learn a lesson in courage from Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student activist who was awarded Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. Ms. Thunberg, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has spoken before the U.N. and many other international conferences on climate, calling out world leaders who are jeopardizing her generation’s future by ignoring the seriousness of climate change.

That climate change seems debatable, that there exists both pro and con positions, that it could become the next evolution/creationism schism in schools, with deniers demanding equal representation from politically manipulated school administrators, is a horrifying possibility. Climate change has been steadily accelerating since the advent of the Industrial Revolution with its vast increase in energy consumption. Moreover, since the mid-20th century, the rate of change has rocketed forward at an unprecedented rate. In 2019, 40 billion tons of CO2 were pumped into the atmosphere by human activity. In 2020, with all its opportunities for change in front of us, it’ll be somewhat more. In 2021 even more.

Climate change’s connection to burning fossil fuels is not casual. It is cause and effect, a direct and clear connection. There is no “alternate” version; deniers do not have a right to their own set of facts. We, all of us, the world, are falling off a cliff.

District 9-R claims there is no curriculum that does not present both sides of climate change. Then make your own curriculum. There is plenty of source material. Kudos to 9-R for allowing students to make up their own minds on this critical issue. Thumbs down to any suggestion that climate change is not human driven or deadly serious.

Courage is facing your fear. Courage is also speaking truth to power. Greta Thunberg’s courage is humbling. District 9-R needs to borrow a little of her backbone and teach climate change for what it is, the 21st century’s greatest global challenge. It is a challenge we cannot leave for the future, but one that must be confronted today. It is a challenge not to be faced by our children, but by us.

– john van becay

Still sore over Hillary
12/19/2019

Dear Editor,

How refreshing would it be to see a Shan Wells cartoon showing Pelosi, Nadler and Schiff looking at the Article 2, Amendment 12 of the Constitution with this caption: “The real reason we’re impeaching Trump is that he used the Constitution to beat Hillary.”

– Dennis Pierce, Durango

Be radical: share the riches
12/19/2019

To the editor,

As we are now in the season of giving, I am hoping that we extend our giving to the poor. Radically and as never before.

Let’s do it because we are rich, radically rich. The richest culture with the richest churches and synagogues and temples in history.

Are we rich? Anyone making $32,400 a year or more is richer than 99 percent of the rest of the planet. (investo pedia.com.) It would be nice to believe that we rich Americans (especially the very richest of our rich) are, naturally, giving more to the poor than ever. The statistics do not agree.

In the Great Recession, those making more than $200,000 per year gave less; those making $100,000 or less gave more (theatlantic.com). It almost always happens. As we get richer, we give less percentage of our incomes. As we get richer, we also tend to donate to the arts, universities, hospitals (foxbusiness.com). The poor? Not as much. For the record, I’m guilty. As my circumstances got better over the years, some how I was giving the same amount but less of a percentage.

Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty, estimates that the cost to end poverty is $175 billion per year for 20 years. This amount is less than 1 percent of the combined income of the richest countries in the world, and only four times the United States military budget for one year (borgen.org).

Americans spent $84.1 billion on golf last year (forbes.com), $56 billion on sporting events, $33 billion for athletic equipment and $19 billion on gym memberships (cnbc.com). Back in 2010, the cost of excessive drinking was $249 billion. U.S alcohol sales in 2018 were $253.8 billion (americancraftbeer.com). I’m guilty, I spent on all those things, and more.

Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, reminds us, there is an “opportunity cost” whenever we fail to seize an opportunity that is worth the investment of our time and resources. When we fail to invest in the wellbeing and fundamental rights of children and young people in need, the opportunity cost is tallied not just in dollars and cents but lives cut short, bodies and minds diminished, and families, communities and nations undermined” (unicef.org).

Are we going to disband our military, quit golf, sports, the gym and drinking? Probably not. But we could all do all of it less (especially the war part) and give more.

One of the most famous and striking scriptural calls to the conscience and responsibilities of the radically rich concludes with this admonishment: “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” It was said to a rich man who had done every other good he could think of and asked, “What else?” We know he wasn’t up to the radical commitment, but I like to think he went and gave more than he had ever given before.

Note that he was not commanded to solve poverty. Or pretend that it was solvable. Or judge it. He was told to give. To help.

My hope is that all of us – church/synagogue/temple goers or not – pray on the “opportunity costs” and then let’s just do it. Let’s give to the poor. Radically. This year and next year and the next.

– Selah, Wayne Sheldrake, Durango

Toss out the disposable mindset
12/19/2019

To the editor,

I love the outdoors and have for as long as I can remember. The blue skies, warm sun, fresh air. Nothing beats the outdoors, and we need to conserve them so that generations to come can enjoy it as we do today.

For that reason, it pains me to bear witness to the rampant consumerism and disposable mindset of our society today. It’s not so much any one issue, but rather our collective behavior toward “buy, use, toss, repeat.” The trash fills up our landfills (if it even makes it there), and leaves us only temporarily satisfied.

I realize it’s a big hurdle, and I’m not trying to claim that I’m perfect. Everyone by nature of living creates trash; it’s impossible to avoid. I’m also not advocating for a Puritanical society where no plastic bags or coffee cups are ever allowed. I think that sort of “progress” sends us in the wrong direction.

However, I do think there are little steps we all can take to lessen our collective impact on the outdoors and environment. Simple things, like walking instead of driving, paying more to eat local, and carrying your groceries in a reusable bag.

This isn’t rocket science, & you don’t have to be perfect. Again, no one is. Just do your best to reduce the amount of single-use items you consume, & reuse them as much as you can. In doing so we’ll continue to be the worthy stewards of this beautiful environment we so lovingly adore.

– Alex Whittow, Durango