Our natural world is not a commodity to be possessed and exploited, but a gift to be cherished and cared for, a gift upon which we are all dependent. Environmental issues are also faith issues. Motivated by their religious faith and deep spiritual connection to creation and the creator, many in my congregation, First Presbyterian Church of Dunedin, took leading roles in the 1960s to encourage the Florida Legislature to purchase and protect the ecological gems we now know as Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island state parks. This relatively small investment made years ago in our future has paid off infinitely — protecting wildlife and critical habitat, making these internationally recognized beaches available to all people and making Dunedin, Tampa Bay and Florida some of the most desirable places to live, work and visit.
One of the major financial resources that allowed this vision to become reality was the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Federal funds for the preservation of Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands, as well as numerous other natural and recreational resources throughout Tampa Bay and Florida, were made possible because of it. The fund is based on a simple idea: Invest a small portion of federal offshore drilling revenues toward protecting important land, water, wildlife and recreational areas for all Americans. These are not taxpayer dollars. However, the promise of this successful conservation program has been broken. This September, Congress allowed the Land and Water Conservation Fund to expire.
The good news is it's not too late to save the fund if Congress acts now. Florida has benefited from over $1.2 billion from the fund. Yet, without reauthorization and funding, treasures such as Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island and the Everglades will be in jeopardy for future generations.
The Rev. Dr. David Shelor, Dunedin
The writer is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Dunedin.
Keep guns out altogether | Letter, Nov 30
Armor up the teachers
I agree that some teachers could or would carry a gun in school to be able to protect students but I have not read or seen anywhere the teachers should also have a protective vest to put on in case they are called upon to resist a shooter. Makes sense, don't you think? Have it handy in the classroom or where ever the teacher with a gun is.
Tom Duncan, Palm Harbor
Dire warning for Florida on climate change | Editorial, Nov. 29
Tax carbon, then rebate it
Your timely editorial couldn't be more appropriate. A bipartisan committee of three Republicans and three Democrats including former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist have introduced HR 7173, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (a sweeping bill that would tax carbon emissions and return the money raised by the tax to everyone). This I believe is the best option the United States has to drive down America's carbon pollution while investing in technology that will achieve a stable and healthy, prosperous economy. The time for attacking climate change is here and these members of Congress have come forward to lead the charge. We cannot afford to waste any more time bickering on the sidelines when our citizens are suffering the already encroaching climate change onslaught. It also costs citizens nothing, as the dividend is returned to each American household.
Jan Cox, Clearwater
A Washington Post interview
The president's gut feeling
In a sit-down interview this week, President Donald Trump was quoted as saying "I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me," the implication being he is more conversant in matters of science, economics and foreign affairs than experts in these fields. If so, where was his gut when he guaranteed that Mexico would pay for the border wall, his signature campaign promise, later rebuffed by the Mexican government in very specific and clear language? Where was his gut when he selected certain Cabinet members, ultimately ousted in humiliating fashion, who referred to him as an "idiot" and a "moron" respectively because they recognized the futility of governing by intuition? In a democracy, effective governance requires balancing the interests of, and consent from, those being governed. This can only be accomplished when equal weight is given to intelligence and pragmatism. When either becomes subordinate to instinct, recklessness and chaos abound.
Jim Paladino, Tampa
Giving by the rich costs taxpayers | Column, Nov. 29
Thanks, I'll give to charity
The authors seem to think the government is the best place to invest your money. But by the time a taxpayer dollar wends its way through the system, only pennies are left to help the taxpayers. Is it any wonder you get a bigger bang for your money by giving directly to the public good? I'll keep donating to charities. My degree is in common sense.
Edward Hanks, Valrico
Recount notes | Nov. 17
Why I voted from overseas
I was a Hillsborough County absentee voter for 33 years and for 21 of those years I lived overseas. I never voted in person but never missed an election. Americans live outside the U.S. for all sorts of reasons including love, work, adventure, and the need to stretch their pensions and Social Security checks. Elections aren't only about the here and now. They are about the future. Those votes I took over those 33 years resulted in policies, laws and regulations that have shaped the country and county I live in now. They also kept me invested in my country and made me a reliable interlocutor for foreigners with questions about U.S. elections, society and culture. Furthermore, many Americans living overseas pay U.S. taxes. A return to taxation without representation would be a scandal.
Elizabeth Corwin, Tampa