Letters to the Editor
It’s been great to follow the debate between Steve Tabor (May 8: “Elite Foundations High on Carbon dioxide,” May 8) and Paul English (May 15: “We Must Act Now on Climate Change,” May 15). This local conversation mirrors the greater disagreement between people of science and defenders the status quo over the question of mankind’s role in altering the earth’s atmosphere. Here’s another view.
Picture a basketball covered with Saran Wrap. That roughly describes the relative thickness of the atmospheric membrane that supports and protects all life on our planet. It is incredibly thin: 80 percent of its air mass and virtually all weather events exist in the lowermost 14 miles — the distance between Alameda and Walnut Creek. For all practical purposes the entire membrane extends upward only about 70 miles — the distance between Alameda and Sacramento. For a planet with a 24,000-mile circumference we live under precarious circumstances.
Now we have just learned that the instruments on Mauna Loa have confirmed that the concentration of carbon dioxide in this thin shield of atmosphere has exceeded 400 parts per million, a level that has likely not existed for more than 20 million years — about the time that great apes appeared and long before the spread of humans on the earth. There is broad consensus in the scientific community that this sudden increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is yet another example of environmental degradation caused by human activity. If nothing changes it appears that it will continue unabated and contribute to a steady warming of our world with all the extreme weather events, sea-level rise and human suffering that portends.
Tabor and United States Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) are among those who argue for doing nothing for fear of putting our economy at risk. Others of us think this is short-sighted and irresponsible. It will be the greatest irony if we, as a species, abandon our intellect a scant 200 years after we came to understand the history of extinctions on our planet and simply indulge ourselves into eventual oblivion.
Last week, I was walking along a Bay Farm lagoon. I stopped to admire a male and a female duck swimming with their 10 offspring. I stopped by later and only saw nine little ones swimming with their mother.
The father duck was near the 10th duckling. The little tyke was a foot from the shore, furiously flapping its tiny wings and thrashing about in the water but going nowhere. We saw a young man and asked for his help.
He quickly walked into the soft mud toward the little stuck duck and knelt down to try to free him. After some tugging and pulling, the young man picked up the duckling and brought him to us. Barely a handful, the duckling had one webbed foot trapped firmly by a two-inch long black mussel which in turn was entangled in vegetation.
Another gentleman had a small pocket knife. He started to pry away at the mussel shell while the jogger gingerly held the duckling. After what seemed like an eternity, the little webbed foot was freed, seeming undamaged. The young man quickly released the duckling back into the lagoon and the little one raced rapidly toward the culvert under the street into which the rest of his family had disappeared.
We are truly fortunate to live in Alameda with good neighbors and human beings such as these. I’m going to take a walk along the lagoon tomorrow morning, hoping to see a family of 12 serenely paddling in this wonderful community.
It has come to my attention that the track at the College of Alameda is not available to the high schools in Alameda to use for track meets. Alameda property owners pay property taxes to Alameda County. This includes a line item that says “Peralta School District.” So why can’t schools use the facility?
There needs to be a change to correct this. Alameda High School’s field isn’t legal, and Encinal High School’s track is not safe. I have witnessed many runners who have suffered after falling on the gravel track. I had to take one runner who had a large amount of his skin removed to the emergency room.
With this known, we need to make the track at the College of Alameda accessible to the high schools in Alameda. The wild birds and Canada geese have more access to the track than human beings. Something is wrong here. Let’s make this right for everyone. As Alameda residents, we have the responsibility to protect and provide the best for our students.