Urgent call to action on climate | May 8, editorial
Climate affects children's health
The National Climate Assessment released last week should be a call to action for the United States. We must take steps to reduce carbon pollution or face increasingly dire public health consequences that are already beginning to mount.
I've been practicing pediatric medicine for more than 35 years and I've seen a worrisome decline in children's health over this time. When I started practicing, most of the children I saw for well-child care were healthy. But over the past decade, I've noticed a real change. More infants and children are developing significant health issues — from early-onset, difficult-to-control asthma and allergies to increasing behavioral, developmental and learning disabilities issues.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism and other disorders of brain development are identified in around 1 in 68 children in the United States, a tenfold increase in 40 years. Scientific studies have linked mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants to increases in developmental disorders.
The last year I practiced full-time, it was rare to find a child who was really, totally healthy. I believe the environment is playing a huge part in the changes I've witnessed.
The National Climate Assessment confirms that climate change is causing a host of public health issues. Asthma and allergy cases are rising because of an increase in ground-level ozone and pollen caused by higher temperatures and longer growing seasons. These temperatures are driven by higher concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere.
Our young children, with their developing lungs, brains and other organs, are most vulnerable. We must act now to blunt these serious impacts.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release proposed standards to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. These plants are the United States' largest source of carbon pollution.
If the EPA's new rule is strong and properly enforced, it will have a major, measurable effect on the health and well-being of our children.
Lynn Ringenberg, M.D., Tampa
SunRail system up and running | May 1
It is great that SunRail is finally running. However, no matter how successful it is, the cost of maintaining the tracks and equipment will always exceed the fares. This is true even for the newest trains in the rest of the world. England's privately owned passenger trains make money for their owners, but the government has recently identified a 32 billion pound deficit in track maintenance cost that will have to be absorbed.
A train like SunRail operating on the CSX track from Tampa to Orlando would fill a real need, and a light rail line from the Tampa Union Station to the airport would be the beginning of a modern rail system.
In all such cases, government money will have to subsidize it.
Robert A. Stanton, Seminole
Bullying charges at age 5? Maybe | May 10
Use a little judgment
We're all for ending bullying, but the proposed law in Carson, Calif., is ridiculous.
Kid A, age 6, calls Kid B a poopyhead during recess. Mom B doesn't like Mom A, so she brings charges that Kid A "frightened" (or intimidated or harassed) her kid.
So Mom A is subject to a fine and will "realize her child needs help."
Again, we're all for ending bullying. But let's be reasonable about it.
Ernest Lane, Trinity
Selective histories | May 9, letter
Dissecting the differences
The letter writer asked a fair question about Benghazi and why all the embassy attacks that occurred while George W. Bush was president are not mentioned as comparison, and she deserves an answer.
First, all those attacks were from explosives set off at the buildings' perimeter or main entrance — not a full-scale assault that overran the compound.
Second, those killed were low-level personnel. At no time was the ambassador, the most protected person, in danger.
Third, there were no reports of increased security being asked for at any of the bombed facilities and not only refused but decreased instead.
Finally, for all those incidents the Bush administration was up front immediately about calling them terrorists attacks. They did not try to cover them up by claiming they were something like an accidental explosion from a natural gas line.
Eric Greenbaum, Tampa
Universe's evolution shown in great detail May 8
How, but not why
Again, science has come up with another tool to explain how the universe was created. Unfortunately it has yet to answer the most important philosophical question of all time: Why was the universe created?
Bill Grom, Gulfport
Edwards: Rowdies could leave | May 10
Bring back baseball
The efforts with regard to Al Lang Stadium should be directed toward returning spring training baseball to St. Petersburg, rather than turning it into a permanent soccer facility. I am not anti-soccer, but to deny our history when it comes to baseball is to deny one of the most valuable assets that we have.
I appreciate Bill Edwards' commitment to our city, but these are not benevolent gestures. If there was not potential profit to be made there would be no deals.
Spring training baseball used to be a vital part of our economy. St. Louis fans had retired here to be near their Cardinals. I admittedly do not have alternatives for a Rowdies venue, but surely Al Lang is not the only option. Bring back spring training baseball. Al Lang Stadium should be restored, not renovated.
Bruce Caplan, Redington Beach
Crist: Cuba policy a failure | May 10
A little help …
If Charlie Crist does go to Cuba, perhaps he can find and bring back a couple of hitters who can drive in runs for the Rays.
Dan A. Sparks, Redington Beach