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Letters to the Editor

Readers write: Letters to the editor, January 11, 2017

  • Author: Alaska Dispatch News
  • Updated: January 10
  • Published January 10

Combat ocean acidification by charging for CO2 pollution

What's a fisherman to do? In the Dec. 31 ADN, fish reporter Laine Welch, wrote her highs and lows of Alaska fishing in 2016. Three items popped out.

Under the heading "Scariest Fish Story: Ocean acidification. The corrosion of crab, scallop, oyster and snail shells is already documented in Pacific waters." And then, "Biggest Fish Bust: The no-show of pink salmon was the worst since the 1970s." How bad? According to National Fisherman, the value of the pink catch in Kodiak, Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and Chignik was down 85 percent, with Southeast off by half. Are these two related?

We know the ocean has been growing more acidic recently. When we burn fossil fuels, we produce billions of tons of excess carbon dioxide, which dissolves in the ocean forming carbonic acid, an acid that eats away at shellfish and pteropods. What's the big deal with pteropods? Well, it turns out that pink salmon eat a lot of these tiny sea creatures, and their shells are very easily dissolved when ocean waters acidify. We don't yet know what role pteropod numbers may have played in the pink crash or if it was caused by the warm-water "blob," but this serious statewide impact points to big trouble in Alaska seas.

Should I throw up my hands and quit trying for a profitable season? No, there is hope; Welch points out Alaska's "Most Earth-friendly Fishing Town: Kodiak, for generating nearly 100 percent of its electricity from wind and hydropower, and for turning fish waste into oils and meal." That's right, they didn't say, "that's not practical." They said, "let's do it" — and they worked with their industrial partners to make their system work. Good for them. And what a role model for the rest of us. Can the rest of Alaska do that? If we take a let's-do-it attitude, you bet!

Kodiak went to all-renewables because it made economic sense for them. How can we make reducing CO2 emissions make economic sense for the rest of us? If we charge for CO2 pollution and return all the revenues back to families, that will drive down emissions and improve our monthly take home.

Economists from across the political spectrum agree that putting a steadily-rising price on CO2 pollution is the best way to deal with ocean acidification. So we need to call on our members of Congress, Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Young, to sponsor a carbon fee and dividend program like that of Citizens' Climate Lobby. Let's keep our oceans and salmon runs healthy for today and always.

— George Donart
Anchorage

Change toward peace is ‘wishful thinking’

Simon Corcoran (Jan. 5), in responding to my letter, seems to feel that today's geopolitical wars, violence and terrorism have little to do with the instinctive behaviors that have had Homo sapiens fighting among themselves for thousands of years. The change toward peace that Corcoran believes is occurring as a result of human mental activity is "wishful thinking" … and probably will not be seen in his lifetime and possibly not for centuries. The only real changes in today's fighting are the advancements in technology that have occurred over the past century or two, making it easier to kill and destroy at a much greater magnitude.
With 7-plus billion humans overcrowding this planet and well over half of them struggling to obtain the basic necessities for survival, the most basic instinctive behavior to "fight-to-obtain" will persist. If human numbers could somehow be reduced to about 1 billion, the violence might subside a lot sooner.

What the human mind can envision may be possible, but like most science fiction writing, it just isn't likely to happen for a while.

— Jim Lieb
Palmer

Term limits a good thing

President Obama claimed for the second time that he could have been elected president if he had run again. There are only four requirements in order to run for the presidency. An individual must be a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least
35 years of age, lived in the USA for 14 years, and must leave any humility behind if he/she has any. President Obama cannot be accused of being a humble man.

Barack Obama came into the White House with a thin resume and is leaving the White House with 1,042 Democratic seats (Congressmen, governors and legislators) lost during his eight years in office. (The number of seats lost could actually be increased to 1,043 as Obama campaigned for Hillary Clinton and she was running on the platform of continuing many of Obama's programs.) How did that work out for you and your party, Mr. President?

At this point in time, I believe everybody is in agreement that term limits for the presidency is a good thing! The older I get, the more I believe in term limits.

— Burt Neimeyer
Palmer

Murkowski, show courage and protect Planned Parenthood

Shannyn sent a clear sharp message to Alaska voters about Planned Parenthood (ADN, Jan. 8): "More than 10 years ago, Planned Parenthood wrote a grant that paid for my breast cancer surgery. I'm a fan."

Moore's advice to Sen. Lisa Murkowski: "All Murkowski needs to do is call Mitch McDonnell and say, 'I won't vote to repeal Obamacare if the Planned Parenthood funding is attached.' "

Moore quoted what Murkowski said about women's reproductive health a few years ago, "I have always said if you don't like abortion, the best way to deal with it is to not have unwanted pregnancies in the first place. How do you do that? It's through contraception."

Planned Parenthood's work is vital. Every child deserves parents who want that child.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, you have done courageous things in your political career. Now, please show us that you have the courage to oppose your party's plan to defund Planned Parenthood.

— Amy Bollenbach
Homer

Support an effective US EPA

I have sent the following letter to our Alaska senators:

I am writing in opposition to the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency. I view the EPA as one of the most important agencies for public safety in the United States.

Environmental pollution by industry and agriculture can have far greater negative impacts on large numbers of people than almost any other threat the public faces. Pruitt's record in Oklahoma makes it very unlikely that he will take serious enforcement stance against industry to put health of the people ahead of corporate profits.

I view unregulated burning of fossil fuels and widespread production and application of pesticides both in agriculture and otherwise as some of the greatest dangers in our world. I urge you to support policies that will combat man-made global warming by the reduction of the combustive uses of fossil fuels to dampen the severe effects sea level rise is having both in coastal Alaska as well as many island nations around the world. The policies set and enforced by U.S. EPA have consequences both here at home and around the world. I do not think that Pruitt would be a willing administrator to take on this important position.
At a time when government intrusions on personal liberties, such as oppressive personal searches by the Transportation Security Administration and interference in personal health choices, particularly for women, raise public ire, I view the actions of the EPA to limit widespread air and water pollution as one of the serious good works by our federal government in preventing local government's short-sighted calls for less regulation to benefit a few economic interests at the expense of public health.

I take this opportunity to make you a better representative of the people by providing you with this Alaskan's opinion. Thank you for your service to our great state.

— John M. Gerrish
Juneau

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@alaskadispatch.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@alaskadispatch.com.

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