What’s going on in our skies? Same ol’, same ol’

Editor of the Reformer:

In response to recent letter in which the writer contended "the trails pouring out of the jets aren’t contrails ..." ("What’s going on in our skies," March 25).

The truth is that while a lot of contrails do dissipate several dozens of plane lengths behind, it’s not unusual for some to last for many minutes and sometimes hours if conditions are right and with the right winds. It all depends on the variables of temperature, relative humidity and wind currents at altitude. Sometimes (quite commonly) these combinations are not met and there will be no contrail at all. These things have been happening ever since aircraft have been able to reach altitudes where conditions are favorable. This is all explained at length with histories and photos that go back as far as 1918 at www.contrailscience.com. In it, you will see photos from the ground of contrail formations of thousand-plane bombing raids over Germany or dogfighting in the skies over England that have the sky nearly half overcast. And yes, the contrails have spread out from the narrow stream to the wider, flatter type described by the letter writer.

As for the criss-cross patterns, we are under a flight path for a large number of flights that are heading to or coming from airports to the west and bound to or from Boston.


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Hence, the east/west trails. Also, but to a lesser degree, a lot of flights to or from Europe and parts of Asia headed to or from New York pass over here as well, and hence, the north/south trails completing the criss-cross pattern. For a look at who these airplanes are in real time, go to www.flightradar24.com and you will find a program that shows who the airplane is, how high it is, how fast it’s going, where it’s going to and from, it’s current heading and other certain parameters including a live simulated cockpit view.

Lastly, if conditions at altitude are favorable, simple observation from the ground will reveal this. If they don’t drift away, eventually you will see that a once slim dense plume will widen and fade to a "lingering haze." It’s scientific fact and trumps all the conspiracy theories out there.

Richard Pearce,

Brattleboro, March 28

It’s our schools, not our students, who are sick

Editor of the Reformer:

I applaud today’s fine editorial on the educational damage done by our nationwide move to "school standards" and high-stakes testing ("Negative consequences of standardized tests," March 28). In addition to all the problems this editorial notes, I would also add new evidence from a research team led by Stephen Hinshaw that the No Child Left Behind fad is behind the troubling surge in ADHD diagnosis in the United States.

Over the past 20 years the rate of ADHD diagnosis has nearly doubled. The most recent statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that about 11 percent of all children are diagnosed with ADHD at some point between age 6 and 17, and that 20 percent of males are. Even the most ardent proponents of the ADHD framework agree that these statistics represent a troubling degree of over-diagnosis.

Many factors have been proposed for this disturbing tend, including the role of pharmaceutical firms in promoting ADHD, the increasing role of poorly trained pediatricians in diagnosing ADHD, often based on a single interview, and the ways in which the internet and social media have created a culture of distraction among our youth.

ADHD prevalence varies widely by state -- in Colorado, about 7 percent of kids get diagnosed, while more than 15 percent are in Louisiana. Now Hinshaw and his team have identified a robust correlation between when a state adopted the Draconian system of school standards and the level of ADHD diagnosis, with the early adopters having the highest rates, and with all states having increasing rates of diagnosis as new standards took hold. It seems that our educational system may be a major factor behind over-diagnosis of ADHD.

In most cases, it is poor kids who get the diagnosis. They are least likely to score well on standard tests -- because of economic disadvantage, not innate ability. The test scores of students diagnosed with ADHD are discounted when schools are evaluated as to whether they meet standards. It is easy to do the math.

As an educator who has worked with college-age students with learning differences since 1987, I see the turn toward classifying learning challenges as medical disorders, treatable by amphetamines, as deeply disturbing. Struggling in school is not a medical problem, and we know that educational interventions work. Hinshaw’s evidence suggests that it is our schools that are sick, not our students.

MacLean Gander,

Brattleboro, March 28

Meat eater and proud of it

Editor of the Reformer:

I feel obligated to comment on a recent letter to the editor ("Respect, don’t eat, animals," March 22-23).

While I do agree that everyone has right to think as they please, this letter writer is, in my opinion, totally wrong about eating animals. I believe that animals were created especially to provide needed food to humans. How do you suppose the Pilgrims who settled this country survived without using all the food available here when they arrived?

You may be a vegetarian, which is your right and choice. Most of us are not and enjoy many kinds of meat provided it is humanely raised and humanely prepared for the market. To suggest that humans refrain from eating animal meat is just ridiculous for all mankind.

Warren S. Patrick,

Townshend, March 28

An unnecessary burden

Editor of the Reformer:

I wonder if those who are determined to build a new fire station and police department realize the additional burden they are putting on the towns people tax wise. We are being bled to death now.

Why not utilize an empty building such as the old Home Depot building and put the fire department, police department and town offices there instead of going to the expense of building new ones?

Elaine Grant

Brattleboro, March 28

Support for solar

Editor of the Reformer:

I am 10 years old. I am homeschooled and I’ve been studying energy in science class. I want to tell people about the positive and negative sides of solar energy.

The positive side of solar power is that it is free once you pay for the equipment used to collect the solar energy. It doesn’t pollute the environment, and you don’t lose it if you don’t use it right away. The negative side is that the equipment is very expensive, and it can take years to pay for it. Solar panels also take up a lot of room, and they can’t be used on a cloudy day or in a place that is shaded.

I think that, right now, solar energy is the best source of renewable energy, but I hope that scientists find a way to make solar panels less expensive. My mom hopes that scientists also find a way to make solar panels more attractive.

Aaron Slade,

Vernon, March 24