Don’t blame the experts
Insults based on science miss the mark | Perspective, Oct. 29
The column by F.D. Flam about the book “The Deadly Rise of Anti-Science — A Scientists Warning” by Peter Hotez was interesting. The critics who say that public health professionals were not communicating well and that they need to educate people and let them make decisions regarding their health care are misguided. The U.S. required vaccines for children in order to attend public school. This, until recently, had been a decision not left to parents. Since this country has allowed parents to opt out of vaccines, we have seen increases in diseases that were unheard of years ago.
The reason so many people refused the COVID vaccine (and other vaccines) along with other measures to keep themselves safe had to do with where they got information about COVID, not the messages coming from public health officials. Some TV networks were reporting untruths. Also, there were recommendations made at the beginning of the pandemic that proved to be wrong. Scientists were confronted with something they had not seen before. This is how science works. Some things are found not to work and some are found to be helpful. Normally scientists do experiments to determine these recommendations. During COVID, they were trying every possible method of stopping communicable disease.
Ann Jamieson, St. Petersburg
Get very worried
Teens are on their screens 8½ hours a day for fun & games | Column, Oct. 29
Where is the outrage? Social media, games, YouTube, X (Twitter), TikTok and its ilk are just like an addictive drug, a drug that is dismantling, depressing and destroying our youth. Moderation and balance are promoted, yet the crisis is an epidemic. A complete overhaul is needed of the cultural acceptance of our kids spending 8½ hours a day, on average no less, on social media.
Given there are 24 hours in a day, assuming we allot eight hours for sleep (nope, kids aren’t getting that but they should), six hours for being in school, and then the eight hours for online social media, a meager two hours are left in the day for life. What is the end game of this? Where is this leading for our kids, for us?
The crisis is here. The adults in the room — that’s us — need to fix this. Otherwise, the future’s not bright for our kids and our way of life. Please make this, and efforts to combat it, front-page headline news, not something buried on page 66 of the news.
Steve Cassidy, St. Petersburg
A right to clean water
Most people associate Florida with clear ocean waters, white sand or the manatee. Each year, millions of people travel to the Sunshine State to enjoy its beautiful beaches, contributing significantly to the Florida economy. However, the quality of Florida beaches has significantly declined due to water pollution, harmful algal blooms and the unpleasant sight and smell of marine life carcasses strewn along the shoreline. We must take action to both protect and preserve Florida’s natural beauty and also to keep the economy strong.
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Agricultural and fertilizer runoff and industrial discharge are both significant contributors to the declining water quality. They add excessive nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, which make algal blooms (like red tide) become more frequent. These blooms have detrimental effects not only on the water and aquatic animals but also on humans. Harmful algal blooms can produce toxins that may cause breathing difficulties if inhaled, and they can pose health concerns for those who consume seafood contaminated by the toxins.
This must end. Join me and the Florida Right To Clean Water, a citizens’ initiative to amend the Florida Constitution with the right to clean water. It’s up to “we the people” to create hope and change. We need 900,000 physically signed petitions by Nov. 30 to get on the 2024 ballot. Help us protect Florida waters before it’s too late.
Kaleigh Thadhani, Tampa
Enough war spending
Biden meets with speaker over Israel, Ukraine aid | Oct. 27
We can’t fund every war on the globe. So now we are also supporting a war in Israel. It’s time to hand off the ball to Europe to handle Ukraine war. It’s on their doorstep. Let them go broke supporting that war. While we’re going broke fighting all the other wars around the globe, I think our wallets have had enough.
Bob Green, Largo
Floridians can’t afford more
Big premiums, big profits | Nov. 1
In December, under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ direction, the Florida Legislature passed laws gifting the insurance companies with new protections based on unproven claims about why homeowners’ insurance premiums are so high, and some lawmakers started to figure out ways to profit off those same — in my view — ill-conceived laws. We middle-class Floridians can’t afford much more profitable mismanagement from our elected officials. I think it’s time to dump the whole Republican Party in Florida and see if the Democrats can competently run the state. Based on the past 20 years of Republican ineptitude the Democrats could hardly do worse.
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg