Letters for the week of November 25-December 1 

Readers sound off on affordable housing in Oakland, Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus' departure, and Grand Fare's closure

Page 2 of 3

1. Science academies worldwide, 97 percent of climate scientists, and 99.9 percent of peer-reviewed papers on the issue in respected scientific journals argue that climate change is real, is largely caused by human activities, and poses great threats to humanity.

2. Every decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the previous decade, and all of the sixteen warmest years since temperature records were kept in 1880 have occurred since 1998. 2014 was the warmest year recorded and 2015 is on track to exceed it by a mile.

3. Polar icecaps and glaciers worldwide have been melting rapidly, faster than scientific projections.

4. There has been an increase in the number and severity of droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods. There seem to be stories about this almost daily on TV news.

5. California has been subjected to so many severe climate events (heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and mudslides when heavy rains occur) recently that its governor, Jerry Brown, stated that, "Humanity is on a collision course with nature."

6. Many climates experts believe that we are close to a tipping point when climate change will spiral out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless major positive changes soon occur.

7. While climate scientists believe that 350 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric CO2 is a threshold value for climate stability, the world reached 400 ppm in 2014, and the amount is increasing by 2–3 ppm per year.

8. While climate scientists hope that temperature increases can be limited to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), largely because that is the best that can be hoped for with current trends and momentum, the world is now on track for an average increase of 4–5 degrees Celsius, which would produce a world with almost unimaginably negative climate events.

9. The Pentagon and other military groups believe that climate change will increase the potential for instability, terrorism, and war by reducing access to food and clean water and by causing tens of millions of desperate refugees fleeing from droughts, wildfire, floods, storms, and other effects of climate change.

10. The conservative group ConservAmerica (ConservAmerica.org), formerly known as "Republicans for Environmental Protection," is very concerned about climate change threats. They are working to end the denial about climate threats and the urgency of working to avert them on the part of the vast majority of Republicans, but so far with very limited success.

Richard Schwartz, New York City


"Oakland's Sweeping Plan for Parking," News, 10/28

It's Not for Oakland

Parking plans of the sort suggested here have long been used in European central downtown areas for the purposes of streamlining access to parking and thus access to shopping and other urban activities. These plans can help improve the quality of the street environment by reducing noise and other pollution which results from "search traffic" (drivers repeatedly circling looking for close-by parking).

Improvements like these can make a big difference in area economic vitality but such plans cannot be viewed as revenue enhancers. In fact, such plans are invariably costly for the cities that implement them properly.

There are real and critical barriers to successful implementation of such plans in the United States, and especially in Oakland. Costs include pervasive high-quality signage to direct traffic to nearby off-street parking so that search traffic is effectively discouraged. Off-street parking, whether in lots or garages, is not free, and garages aren't cheap to construct.

All aspects of the local area environment must be properly coordinated in a plan: Sidewalks and streets must be pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly. Public transit must be easily available.

What is most likely to happen in Oakland is that a half-baked plan will be approved by the council, which will then be inadequately funded. The net result will be that a mayor can talk about how progressive Oakland is, but life on the street won't change a bit.

Hobart Johnson, Oakland


"Racial Profiling via Nextdoor.com," Feature, 10/7

It's About Class Shaming

Neighborhood message boards are being used for destructive purposes besides racial profiling, and neighbor bashing is becoming more prevalent as the downtown districts in Oakland continue to grow. "Class shaming" is the term for the anti-social behavior instigated by people who perceive themselves to be more (monetarily) "relevant" because they live in neighborhoods downtown that are now expensive. Usually these people are transplants and believe they run the "new" neighborhood.

My wife and I grew up in Oakland. When we first moved to Old Town Square (Old City) we experienced class shaming. We were approached by an odd young neighbor in the building who informed us they were a "longtime resident" and wanted to "warn us" about which neighbors we should avoid and why. The neighbor told us a slew of horrible lies about people we barely knew to turn us against them (neighbor is a child abuser, drug addict, cheating alcoholic, crazy liar, etc.) and seemed agitated that new people were moving in. We decided it was better to keep to ourselves, and the neighbor retaliated by slandering us to the neighbors so we would look like liars.

We later learned from another neighbor who was a psychiatrist, who had also had problems with this person, that the neighbor had mental illness and used message boards to hurt neighbors' reputations. He explained that people who class shame others feel unworthy and will attack anyone, regardless of their race, because they degrade peoples' characters and scrutinize their material wealth as a measure of their "worth" instead. They use catchphrases like "betterment of the neighborhood," "family friendly," or "people like them" to socially include or exclude people and divide the community. They join every neighborhood group available so they have more access to spread lies and to create sub-groups.

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