Soap Box

Making a plant-based resolution

To the editor,

The end-of-year/New Year holidays seem to whiplash us from one extreme to the other: eat, drink and be merry vs. the customary New Year’s resolutions: reduce social media, reduce weight and embrace a plant-based diet!

One-third of consumers report reducing their consumption of animal foods. Hundreds of school, college, hospital and corporate cafeterias have embraced Meatless Monday. Even Chipotle, Denny’s, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell and White Castle are rolling out plant-based options.

A dozen start-ups, led by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are creating healthy, eco-friendly, compassionate, convenient, delicious plant-based meat and dairy alternatives. Meat industry giants Tyson Foods, Cargill and Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods have invested heavily in plant-based meat development. So have a number of Microsoft, Google, Twitter and PayPal pioneers.

According to the Plant-Based Foods Association, plant-based food sales have grown by 20 percent in recent years, 10 times the growth rate of all foods. Sales of plant-based cheeses, creamers, butter, yogurts and ice creams are exploding at a 50 percent growth rate. Plant-based milks now account for 15 percent of the milk market.

The plant-based New Year’s resolution requires no sweat or deprivation – just some fun exploration of your favorite supermarket, restaurants and food websites.

– Diego Horvath, Durango

Tipton's anti-environment stance

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

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

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

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 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 ( 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 ( 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 (

Americans spent $84.1 billion on golf last year (, $56 billion on sporting events, $33 billion for athletic equipment and $19 billion on gym memberships ( Back in 2010, the cost of excessive drinking was $249 billion. U.S alcohol sales in 2018 were $253.8 billion ( 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” (

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