Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Letter to the editor


June 6, 2019

Two editorials in the Gazette's, "One-two punch" dated May 9th and "The Knock out punch?" dated a week later are to be commended for their courage, being printed in a conservative county. Gordon Forgey accurately explained the three threats of climate change, species extinction, and plastics. I agree that we humans are the most important cause. There are solutions, if we care to act.

Carbon dioxide's danger is addressed by a bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives. It is "The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act." We need a good national law to begin reducing carbon. More information about this vital work in Congress can be found at https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/blogs/2019/2/3/bipartisan-carbon-fee-and-dividend-bill-now-before-us-congress.

Species extinction is being driven by changes in climate. We are seeing examples of how later winters and earlier springs are affecting our plants, which in turn affect everything from bees and butterflies to wildlife. Examples abound, should anyone care to look for them in magazines and on the Internet. When our pollinator populations decline, so also will our food production be reduced. Control of carbon is the most important action to slow the losses of our species.

Third, plastics, loved for all that they do: saving money in transport, making medical devices, and for their convenience. But they have become a huge problem, especially in our oceans. Did you know we are even drinking tiny bits of plastic when we drink the contents of a new plastic water bottle? This impact on human health has not been evaluated. If we are going to continue using plastic, we had better get better in at least two ways. One is deciding what plastic use is essential and keep using those, and the other is to substitute other materials for plastic. When we continue to use durable plastics, we must figure out how to genuinely recycle and do it. Most times melting plastic results in a useless residue but I have heard that using an acid can reclaim quality in the process so that basic ingredients can be used again.

Businesses and corporations must shift away when possible from plastic containers to glass, tin cans, cardboard and cellophane. Hershey's chocolate syrup, for example, used to also be sold in a one-pound can but now is only found in plastic.

While we are becoming more desperate for national action, I am glad that we are taking some steps that help, such as turning off our vehicle engines when parked, shopping with reusable bags, buying products not in plastic packaging when there is that choice, growing plants and planting trees where there is space. Finally, this week is a good time to write or call our legislators.

--Mark Bordsen, Colfax


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