Monday's letters: Work to protect the environment

Published April 18, 2014

Earth Day

Work to protect the environment

On Earth Day, Tuesday, we are reminded that, historically, the greatest improvements in life expectancy and quality of life have been due to advances in environmental public health. As medical students, we feel that the protection of our environment remains crucial today. In recent years, the Floridan Aquifer, a major source of our freshwater, has been in danger of depletion and saltwater intrusion, conditions linked with sinkhole formation. Our water sources are under the constant threat of agricultural and industrial pollution. This threat will increase if oil companies' attempts to curtail the EPA Clean Water Act are successful and fracking is allowed near the Everglades.

Globally, climate change is a public health emergency that pollutes the air, contaminates water, threatens the food supply, and spreads infectious disease. We already see increasing emergency room visits, hospitalizations and deaths.

Environmental decline is not inevitable. History has shown that people, when united, can stop the most terrible of threats. As individuals, we can increase our efforts to conserve water, recycle and reduce motor vehicle usage. As a community, we urge all citizens to stand against fracking, coal and tar sands exports and mining/drilling on public land. Let us work together to support candidates and policies that increase energy efficiency, promote renewable alternatives to fossil fuel and protect our waterways from pollution.

Cindy Nguyen, Thanhnga Doan, Manjari Pedapudi, Camille Imbo and Jennifer Le, Student Physicians for Social Responsibility, USF College of Medicine, Tampa

Food stamp spending explodes April 18, letter

Don't forget the recession

The letter writer says it's "wrong for the Times to use PolitiFact information that does not include proper context." I agree. However, in noting how much food stamp spending has increased during the Obama administration, I failed to notice the writer's acknowledgment of the devastating impact of the recession over the past six years.

Surely this recession, widely regarded as the most harmful since the Great Depression, puts the increase in food stamp spending in the "proper context." The writer's statistics are helpful but do not explain the stagnant wages of most employees, nor those who are accepting part-time work or minimum wage despite their qualifications for full time or higher pay. It would stimulate the economy if both parties worked together in lifting up work and wages that reduced the need for food stamps.

Robert Palin, Dunedin

They chose the NRA over your safety April 17, editorial

A terrible toll of lives

After reading your editorial accompanied by photos of politicians who mindlessly support everything the NRA promotes, and hearing recent statistics that the number of citizens killed by firearms last year was more than 12,000, I think the Times should publish on the front page a running total every day of all the firearm deaths so far this year, just as we see during a war.

With that information, and the drive that Michael Bloomberg is heading, perhaps some headway can be made. Keep up the good work.

Albert Carmanico, St. Petersburg

Follow the money

Thank you for exposing the local House members in the NRA's back pocket who voted to allow concealed carry during emergencies, making law enforcement's job even more difficult, instead of protecting the citizens of Florida and visitors to the state.

The only detail missing was to disclose, in bold print under their smiling faces, how much each legislator has accepted from the NRA.

Please run this list again near election time.

Donna Hahn, Dunedin

Concealed carry and crime

The Times draws the false conclusion that more guns means more crime and fewer guns means less crime. Florida's violent crime rates began falling after 1987, when Florida passed its concealed carry law. In the meantime, concealed carry has proven very popular with law-abiding citizens, with the number of valid concealed weapon licenses growing from 32,814 in 1988 to over 1.2 million as of March 2014.

The obvious conclusion is that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens means less crime, and that's just as true during hurricanes, civil disorder and emergency evacuations. The need for self- defense escalates, and it makes no sense to take away the people's means to defend themselves, family and property.

Lee Hanson, Hudson

Need for protection

I see this issue differently than the editorial. I have been in the aftermath of a hurricane in Miami-Dade County. I would want to defend my wife and children if put in harm's way. I am not an NRA member, but I support this measure. The criminals will have their weapons with or without disturbances.

Eric Tremmel, Tampa

School options spur student achievement April 16, commentary

Voucher claims, reality

School choice advocates are constantly changing their narrative. They have gone from saving children from failing schools, to competition, to kids just learn differently. But other than a religious education, what can kids get in private schools that they can't get in public?

I will tell you. They can get a noncertified teacher, or even a nondegreed teacher, as there are no requirements for teachers. They can get an education in junk science, creationism, while failing to get an education in actual science. Then there is no way to actually compare how they are doing with public school students because they fight against accountability. They don't fight against public money, just against proving it's being well and properly used.

Vouchers undoubtedly help a few students, but if we are being honest how many students couldn't get the same services in their public schools?

Chris Guerrieri, Jacksonville