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Now, I'm no climatologist or other expert in this field, but it seems pretty evident to me that we're already well past the "tipping point." All the data show that the effects of anthropogenic global warming are much more severe than originally estimated. Glaciers are melting and temperatures are rising. But the more glaring outrage is that despite all the hot air being generated by talk about global warming, we're not doing jack shit to actually stop it!
Sorry, folks: Driving a Prius ain't gonna save the Earth. Neither will recycling, nor using twirly light bulbs. Now, all of these things would probably be necessary in order to reverse course, environmentally speaking. But while they're necessary, they're not sufficient. And speaking of delusions, what is it with proponents of electric vehicles? What do they think these cars run on — pixie dust? Don't they realize that the energy to propel your Volt or Tesla comes primarily from burning fossil fuel? Or just how much energy it takes to construct and maintain the damn thing in the first place?
A quote in an unrelated article in the same issue of your paper ("Waste: The Dark Side of the New Coffee Craze") gives one of the reasons for our collective inaction here. A packaging specialist says, "People want convenience, even if it's not sustainable." People still want to cart their fat asses around in fossil-fuel-burning, individual pollution-producing units.
Convenience trumps common sense, resulting in a tsunami of (mostly) plastic crap, most of which is not recycled, believe me. And the continuing obsession with handheld electronic devices only adds to the mountain of trash, not to mention the gigawatts of energy required to run them, if you add up all the wall warts, USB chargers, etc.
No, my considered response to all this is to simply say enjoy the ride while it lasts. Because absent some actual concerted, serious global effort to quickly and radically change the way we do business down here on Planet Earth, we're just going to cook ourselves. It remains to be seen, of course, just how this plays itself out so far as the details are concerned, like rising sea levels, drought and desertification, famine and disease propagation, etc. We can argue and speculate endlessly about such fascinating details, but in the end we're basically screwed. Have a nice life.
David Nebenzahl, Oakland
"Homophobic Group Disrupts Council Meetings," News, 8/14
Your article was right on. As a council watcher for many years, I've been totally disgusted by what happens in the meetings ever since [Corky] Boozé took office. The worst thing for me? I voted for him. Once, but never again.
Bob Larsen, Point Richmond
Thank you for telling the truth about [Richmond] City Council meetings. If the truth is ugly, then telling it is not pretty. But pussyfooting around it like so many article writers do is disgusting to me. Again, thank you.
Gwynn O'Neill, Richmond
"Bushwhacking Through California Parks," Eco Watch, 8/14
Poison Oak Is Part of the Experience
Although I generally enjoy your stuff, you went overboard this week. Could it be that poison oak is as much a part of the park experience as a pristine, carefully carved path?
I hope you have duly considered the many park lovers who are not on board with the feeling that parks ought to be carefully managed and manicured. Frankly, the more sophisticated park defenders that I have known are not on board with California State Parks Foundation's conservative attitude that parks need to be carefully managed, and are actually glad that the budget cuts have forced a more grassroots, locally appropriate approach to parks management. We could go back and forth on what this actually means, but I sense that with this article you have stepped over the line into park-management extremism.
Consider that poison oak is maybe part of the experience, and maybe the park and its full-time inhabitants appreciate its presence more than you.
Ryan Mykita, Berkeley
Immigrant Entrepreneurs Stimulate Local Economy
New immigrant and refugee families are becoming a more prominent part of the fabric of our country's society and economy. These individuals face a great struggle and barriers upon their arrival to the United States and are forced to adapt to a culture that is completely foreign to them. One way that these individuals have historically been able to succeed and move forward is through entrepreneurship. These new Americans are finding the benefits of driving their own careers through self-determination and ingenuity.
A recent report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that first-generation immigrants are starting their own businesses at almost twice the rate of the previous generation and at a 27 percent higher rate than non-immigrant Americans. This shows that new Americans are very important contributors to the development of our economy and future. California leads the country in immigrant entrepreneurship. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, a New York-based think tank, about one-third of California's small businesses are owned by immigrants.
A local nonprofit, AnewAmerica, offers the only program in the nation that provides immigrants, recent refugees, and new citizens and their families with a three-year-long program involving customized business training and coaching, certification in business planning, business development support, access to credit, and social responsibility education. These new American entrepreneurs also find encouragement for integration in social, cultural, and political life in the United States and envision new future possibilities in this country. "We salute our entrepreneurs' success in launching and expanding their businesses. They are creating jobs, building assets, growing green microenterprises and promoting economic prosperity," states AnewAmerica CEO, Viola Gonzales. Since 1999, AnewAmerica has successfully established 453 self-sustainable businesses and helped expand 130 more in the Bay Area. They are currently forming their 70th group of entrepreneurs for this upcoming fall.
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