Don’t blame teachers!
EDITOR: As a substitute teacher in the Valley for over two decades, I have witnessed a wide range of classroom dynamics. Without exception, I have never left from a day of teaching thinking: “That teacher wastes so much money.” There is no money to waste! Teacher money for classroom supplies is highly deficient. Teachers receive nothing from the district and about $150 from the site budget, if that is even available! Such a small amount does not go very far. Neither do teachers’ salaries in this district. Living in the Valley, on a teacher’s salary, is a struggle. If you are married to a teacher, two jobs is a necessity. If you are single, a teacher always is looking for ways to supplement their income. I rarely hear, “How come every teacher drives a new BMW?” Teachers are wise users of money because they have to be.
Yet, the administration has been stating that the financial woes in this district are due to the burden teachers place on the school budget. Go into any classroom in our Valley and what will stand out is not what teachers have but what they lack. It is disturbing and highly insulting to pin the financial missteps in this district on those who are in the trenches, every day, trying to get by quietly spending their own money to provide for their students — whenever the district cannot. If you see a teacher give them your support, your gratitude and, if you can, let the Sonoma Valley School District know that teachers deserve to be praised not blamed.
Not the time to ignore science
EDITOR: The letter to the editor by Ron Gillis (“Global Warming Good for the Earth,” Dec. 15) expressed a series of misguided premises that frequent public criticisms of human-caused climate change.
First is the assumption that increased CO2 is “beneficial to plant growth.” In fact, plants do not respond uniformly well to increased CO2. About one-quarter of all plant-respired CO2 occurs in plants which cap the amount of CO2 they use and are thus unaffected by rises in CO2. Experiments show that other plants show about 15 percent increased growth, but then are limited by available water, nitrogen and increasing temperatures and insects. So, no, the CO2 we add to the atmosphere will not be beneficial for plants.
Next the letter contends that “such natural changes have occurred and met with adaptation…” Natural changes in solar illumination of the earth have been recognized since the early 1920s, after the work of Milutin Milankovic. His work explained the rise and fall of ice ages. Mr. Gillis appears to accept this “scientific” discovery. Thus he must accept that such climate variations have resulted in the extinction of species, and the next extinction could be ours. Assuming that our species does not want to go softly into the night, “natural changes” should not be taken glibly, especially when we may still be able to influence this change by reducing CO2.
Thirdly, the letter suggests that only fossil fuel power can supply the people rising out of poverty in “Asia, Africa, and South America.” During 2017, China ceased working on 100 coal-fired plants. South America has increased its investment in renewable energy 11-fold since 2004. Africa is seeing that the cost of renewables is now competitive with fossil fuels, and considering pollution, renewables are far cheaper. The rest of the world is choosing renewables for a lower-cost solution with less danger to the climate.
When “science” prevents diseases, it is gratefully accepted, but when that same “science” warns about the climate, some sadly believe this violates common sense. It does not. The scientific approach has improved living conditions for humans worldwide. The science is now warning our species of grave danger ahead. This is not the time to ignore it.
Willful ignorance is dangerous bliss
EDITOR: Since I direct a peace-education organization, I try to be measured in my responses to emotionally-charged language. However, my patience is tried to the breaking point by willful, ideologically-driven ignorance such as that demonstrated by two recent letters to the editor in the Index Tribune (“Global Warming Good for the Earth,” “What a Fool Believes,” Dec.15). There is certainly nothing “questionable” about the 97 percent of scientists who agree that there is such a thing as global warming and that it is caused by humans. If 97 out of 100 doctors told you that you were having appendicitis and you needed immediate surgery in order to save your life, but three doctors said it was only gas pains and nothing to worry about, which doctors would you believe? Would you consider the advice of 97 doctors to be “questionable” and go with the diagnosis of the other three?
Because that is the situation we are in today with climate change. I realize that some people are emotionally compelled to put their ideology above rational thought. That is what I call willful ignorance.
One writer cites “cheap fossil fuel” as the answer to impoverished nations. There is no such thing as “cheap” fossil fuels when one factors in the damage they cause to the environment and to human health. Today, solar and wind energies are becoming cheaper than fossil fuels, even by the old standards, and they don’t wreak havoc on the environment or human health. Certainly, wind and solar are cheaper than fracking.
It appears that said writers never took a science class, or they slept through it. Their letters are filled with scientific inaccuracies. To say, as one does, that “any increase in temperature overall is benefitting human life” is to deliberately ignore the disasters that are taking place more and more frequently due to climate change. The increase in hurricanes, flooding, tsunamis, record heat waves that have killed thousands, the destruction of crops from droughts, have been attributed — by credible scientists — to the results of human-caused climate change. Then there are the melting ice caps, which are causing the oceans to rise (some islands have already disappeared) and the melting of ice in the permafrost regions, which will cause a release of methane gas, a more powerful factor in global warming than even CO2.
The timing of these letters serves to highlight an exceptional educational opportunity in Sonoma. On Jan. 4, Mark Z. Jacobson, an award-winning climate scientist and Stanford professor, will speak in Sonoma about solutions to the problems of climate change. Anyone who wants to better understand climate change and how we can be part of the solution should attend this exciting event with one of the world’s leading climate scientists.
Praxis Peace Institute, Sonoma