Act now to save our future

Editor of the Reformer:

Wealth has no value these days unless it is being used to respond to the global warming crisis.

Science boldly asserts our need to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050 in order to maintain life’s sustainability. With only 35 years to meet this goal, the Union of International Architects (UIA) has unanimously adopted the "2050 Imperative," agreeing to the plan of zero carbon emissions from the built environment by 2050.

Since almost half of all carbon emissions in the U.S. is from buildings (more than from vehicles/transportation), we can cut carbon’s impact significantly by super-insulating and air-sealing existing buildings to reduce energy needs. By using the Passive House Standard, common in Europe since the 1970s, buildings may use as little as $100 a year to heat/cool. Energy conservation is like "invisible oil," and we all have this wealth at our disposal, in our pockets. By not using energy, we can meet the goal, preserve life on Earth and save money.

The International Architects lead the way. Let us wisely follow by deciding now -- and beginning the work now -- to make Brattleboro a carbon-free zone, or at least a low-carbon zone. If the global warming crisis is not solved, nothing else matters. Life will cease to exist on planet Earth. We don’t want that on our consciences, do we?

Lynn Russell,

Brattleboro, Aug.


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17

Re-consider
wind power

Editor of the Reformer:

Wind power has become an issue in the current senatorial election in Windham County, but without understanding the context, it is nearly impossible to tell fact from fiction. Practically all information on the subject is tainted by the misleading information from the fossil fuel industry. The overwhelming body of science blames it for climate change, which threatens every part of the Vermont eco-system and would cost us up to 70 percent of all higher species if left unchecked. The World Health Organization says it is killing more than three million people per year through pollution. The United Nations is asking all governments to stop the subsidies it gets, which are over $500 billion per year in direct subsidies alone. And distributed power, largely wind and solar, is a real, growing threat.

Supporters of the fossil fuel industry say wind cannot support baseload power and need backup power. In reality, large traditional plants need backup power, too. In fact, on a unit basis, the cost of backup power for large power plants is about three times that of wind and solar power. On top of that, the price of batteries is dropping so quickly that Barclays, an international finance bank, has downgraded the bonds of all US utilities because distributed power and batteries will soon be cheaper than grid power.

They say that wind power does not provide steady jobs. This is not true. Turbine maintenance requires steady work. Wind turbines are typically serviced on a weekly basis. They say that without government incentives, windpower would not exist. That can only be true if the fossil fuel and nuclear industries keep getting subsidies while windpower gets none. They say wind power is expensive. The DOE says the average wholesale cost of contracts for electricity from wind in 2013 was 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour -- easily the least expensive power source in the U.S. They say windpower drives down property values. Every one of the 10 peer-reviewed papers I was able to find says wind farms do not drive down property values and may even increase them. The largest of these was from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and the University of Connecticut, after studying over 130,000 real estate transactions in Massachusetts. They say windpower makes people sick. The position paper from the Australian Medical Association clearly blames the symptoms of wind turbine syndrome on a placebo effect resulting from "scare tactics" (their words) of anti-wind activists. They say birds and bats are being killed. What they do not admit is that for each bird killed making a gigawatt of power from wind, about 40 are killed making the same amount of power from fossil fuels. They say mountain habitats are destroyed by wind farms. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources says the forests in those mountain habitats will be "nearly eliminated" in this state because of climate change caused by fossil fuels.

We need to act rationally, based on science. The fossil fuel interests do not want us to do that.

George Harvey,

Brattleboro, Aug. 19

How do you direct your concerns?

Editor of the Reformer:

It is good to know that in Brattleboro there are concerned activists. However, it would be of interest to me to know what the pecking order is. How do activists get to choose, again, what is the pecking order?

I am particularly referring to the group In Solidarity with Palestine. So, Syrian slaughter or genocidal activities in Africa or concerns about racial issues here in our country do not energize these activists but a particular concern for Palestine does. It seems to me that there might be a more realistic outcome for their activities if they concentrated on "stuff" here in the United States or even more locally, Brattleboro. There is so much to be done in our community to make life better for folks here.

Can someone tell me why Gaza and not Ferguson or even Brattleboro have so engaged these activists?

Selma Schiffer,

Wilmington, Aug. 19 Location, location, location!

Editor of the Reformer:

I guess it’s time for a longer-than-most-here Brattleborian and retired crime prevention officer and to throw his two cents in. We have to look at the history and the reasons why and where a skateboard park should be located. In 1956, Brattleboro received the Look Magazine "All American City" award. It was because we had built Living Memorial Park, encompassing everything at the time that a kid or citizen would want to have in one location. Since then we’ve added more and kept it in that same location for a diversity of things to do.

The location is ideal in that skateboarders have all the amenities are available. If you get hungry, there are snacks available; too hot, take a shower or go swimming; shoot some hoop. It’s all there. That location also makes it more cost-effective for the Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department to manage and protect instead of another location that they have to put more personnel into. You have to look at the cost of insurance going up and the vicarious liability to the department and the town of Brattleboro should something happen or someone gets injured. On the injury factor, the park usually has trained personnel on hand.

What makes it a "safer" location is that there’s safety and numbers for one thing. Further, there’s plenty of adults around and Brattleboro’s finest patrolling, especially during critical times.

In closing, while I sympathize with those living at Brookside, the noise level is not going to be increased anymore than probably what it is now. We have to look at and know that the Living Memorial Park was there well before Brookside was and they’ve always know and knew when they moved in that the park was there. I do not think that the noise is going to be a factor any more than now.

Terry Martin,

Brattleboro, Aug. 22