Climate change is real

This is what we know: The overwhelming scientific judgement is that climate change is real and that human activity is causing it. Further, the changes are unfolding faster than predicted with devastating effects. Also evident is that the burning of fossil fuels is the chief contributing factor. 

One fossil fuel industry, petroleum, has denied the science and in recent ads, equated itself with “jobs”— understandable since the world’s transition to clean energy threatens livelihoods dependent on the old technology. 

In a larger sense, however, these fuels really equal an increasingly harsh habitat for all earth’s creatures and the eventual destruction of our planet’s ability to support all complex life. The alternatives are that stark. 

Unlike industry advocates, climate scientists have no ulterior motive. They also drive cars, eat food distributed by trucks and heat their living spaces with the implicated fuels. They too will need to adjust — as we all must.

With the Republicans’ stranglehold on federal power, California’s ability to protect the environment is greatly reduced. Nevertheless, we can continue to support an increased gas tax, which likely will lead to higher prices and a subsequent drop in use. 

We can ban fracking, decreasing the current oil glut, as well as its pollution problems. Several California counties already have.

We can adopt a carbon tax similar to British Columbia’s successful model. This revenue-neutral tax has found surprising support among Republicans.

Both as a state and individuals, we can lobby for a continuing American presence at the Paris Climate Agreement—but of scientists, not industry advocates.   

We can become persistent activists, calling our representatives, demonstrating, using all forms of democratic participation, including donations to pro-environment leaders. 

We don’t have to go quietly into that good night.

Margaret Morris

What is right for me 

Self-righteous politicians, corporations, religions and individuals all have the answers to the problems facing America, offering their narrow belief in their own self-righteous ideology as the cure-all. They claim their “truth” supersedes everyone else’s. They care little for the non-believers they call “others,” whom they exclude and marginalize when their opinions conflict with their own. In their blind self-righteousness they deny the inclusivity of humanity in favor of the “truth” of their own self-righteous, overbearing perspective that disavows the freethinking of “others.

Political conservatives are self-righteous. Their position on everything is: “I am right and you are wrong. I know better than you, you should agree with me and do as I do or suffer the consequences.” They frighten us with fear of what might be. Threatening us with lies and conjured consequences to protect their dogmatic certainty, they are driven to continually attack the belief systems of “others” in favor of their own. They want to undermine our sense of self and split us away from the beliefs we hold true, deliberately demeaning our right to think for ourselves and be the boss of who we are. They want us to fall into the same web of control and submission that they themselves are victims of, in order to substantiate and reinforce the righteousness of their denigration of the belief system of “others.”

In power, self-righteous conservatives are fueled by vast sums of money and an authoritarian self-righteousness that is greedy, destructive, selfish and often merciless. They have no use for democracy or the opinions of others. They “know” and act unilaterally with impunity to the detriment of all. Their heartless hypocrisy and narrow ideology twists and disqualifies facts, history and science that in any way contradicts or conflict with their narrow tainted vision. 

Conservative self-righteousness feels justified, entitled and authorized to act against all nonbelievers in any way they see fit. Their one-sided thinking is cruel, antisocial and psychopathic, born out of a delusional, fear filled corporate philosophy advocating the need to divide, separate, control and neutralize the rationale of “others” at their expense.  Their modus operandi prevents the unity of all “others” against them, atomizing society, weakening it, isolating people one from the other, causing argument, conflict, poverty, misery and war.

We are better than this! Self-righteousness is an aberration against human development, sanity and curiosity.

Christopher Judges

Offensive and ironic

Ref: Local schoolchildren fear being deported (Letters, May 18)

As a LEGAL immigrant to the USA I find Clive Leeman’s article offensive and ironic.

As he invokes Auschwitz prison, I find it offensive and insulting that he brings Nazi comparison to our current “ILLEGAL” immigrant problem, as my father was in a German camp starting at age of 11. Where does he have the gall to compare the deportation of “ILLEGAL” to Germany and Nazi’s? What do you know about Nazi death camps?

Maybe Mr. Leeman should look up a definition of “ILLIGAL” [sic] in a dictionary. Maybe in South Africa and one of 11 African language words, legal and illegal are the same but not here in USA. Now, he is blaming the Mexican economic problem on so-called “white man,” yet it is the Mexican government that is corrupt at all levels and for the record the Mexican government is failing their people at all levels and not the “white man” north of the border. Mexican economy has not improved 1 percent since NAFTA was put in place over 20 years ago, where over 50 percent of Mexican population lives in poverty today. Who’s fault is that, “white man”? No, señor, it’s the Mexican government infrastructure. Go ahead and try to demonstrate in Mexico City as a noncitizen and see what happens; jail for 10 as that’s what’s written in Mexican constitution. Go ahead, I dare you do that.

Now he wants me and taxpaying citizens of USA  to pay for these ILLIGALS’ [sic] education, social services, medical, etc., etc., sorry no more, but come to the USA LEGALY [sic] and we will welcome all. Otherwise send them all back, period.

Speaking of South Africa and many other African nation that are sub-Sahara, I would say that there are lots of examples today in present time, i.e., 2017 and for past decades or more where the economic shift has gone for the worse as the “white man’s” countless ranches, housing properties, churches have been burned, taken over and “white families killed” by the local black population. Now Mr. Leeman that is an irony of your article, as you are so blind to see a true Nazi behavior in your own backyard where you come, i.e., Africa as it happens today. We here in USA on the other hand don’t do that, we just deport all illegals back, thats all. Which part of ILLIGAL [sic] you dont[sic] understand, they are here ILLIGALY[sic], period. 

So Mr. Leeman before you start throwing stones at the “white man” in USA please take a look what the “natives” are doing in your backyard all over Africa and then you can say something till then enjoy your stay in USA as a LEGAL immigrant just like I am and learn the difference of ILLIGAL [sic] and LEGAL.

P.S. I wonder how did Mr. Ahmed Kathrada obtain the bones from Auschwitz camp in 1962? 

Zoran Bogunovic

Cyclists should contribute

Recently the Star posted an editorial that was espousing the idea of cyclist and pedestrians should share in the gas tax increase.

I heartily agree that more attention should be given to the safety of pedestrians; however my contention on cyclist is predicated by the fact that the State of California has spent many millions of dollars on amenities for cyclist. We now have almost as much of the roadways reserved for cyclist as the amount for automobiles. I am sure that many millions more have been spent on cyclist in many other states.

We have installed so many signs dedicated to cyclist they have become a visual mess.  We have installed bicycle racks, special left turn lanes, off road bicycle paths, special areas at many fire stations for cyclist to repair their bicycles.

Cyclist are now not only given as much rights on the road as automobiles but even in some cases more rights, witness the signs that say watch for cyclist, and the idea that cyclist should be able to cruise through stop signs without having to actually come to a stop.

At the present time anybody that wants to use the streets, roads or highways with their motor driven vehicles must have a license for their vehicle, another for themselves, and of course insurance for any vehicle they may be driving. Of course when purchasing fuel for their respective vehicles they also pay an enormous amount of taxes, which is now being increased. The taxes are used for infrastructure repair, replacement or new addition to our roads, streets and highways, and of course installing all of the aforementioned amenities for cyclists.

My idea is for all cyclists to have a license for their vehicles and themselves as the rest of us do, also they must have at the very least insurance for themselves, as it stands now in most cases when a cyclist is injured in an accident the cost is borne by all taxpaying citizens.

At the present time the cyclist contribute absolutely nothing to the use of the roads, streets, highways that they use.

Rellis Smith

Stuck in the past

As an aspiring film director, I read with great sadness David Randall’s Out of the Box review, “Return to Twin Peaks” (May 24).

 David Lynch is arguably America’s greatest avant-garde surrealist auteur, with trailblazing experimental films such as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive.  

Unfortunately the premiere of 2017 Twin Peaks: The Return on Showtime lacks the creative originality of Lynch’s 1990 Twin Peaks. Tellingly, in the new first episode, when the One-Armed man asks Agent Cooper “Is this future or past”… the answer is the new Twin Peaks is stuck in the past.

I greatly admire the new plot stories that take place in South Dakota, New York and Las Vegas for their Lynchian unorthodox, bleeding edge, darkness. Those scenes are innovative and stand by themselves.

But I cringed every time I watched the old, feeble, gray-haired original Twin Peaks cast members re-appear as retro caricatures of themselves.

Just like Agent Cooper is trapped in the backwards talking, red curtains of the Black Lodge while his evil doppelganger Cooper wreaks havoc in the world … similarly the cutting edge David Lynch that we all know and love from 1990 is now also trapped, while his boring doppelganger regresses as “the stars turn and presents itself.”

John Lundin

Make Ojai a humane city

I am a 13-year-old girl who signed a petition this Memorial Day weekend to have animals treated humanely in Ojai. 

I recently read a book that changed my life forever.  It’s called The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. You should get that it’s quite the scintillating book.

In it, Pollan explores how livestock are treated and fed. He also looks at different pesticides and chemical enhancers that may be harmful to humans, especially developing children such as myself.

Because of this book, I have become vegetarian for health reasons not because I feel sorry for eating the animals for I believe it is the cycle of life but for the way they are treated and killed.

Did you know that about 20 percent of McDonald’s cows die in extreme pain? I believe that restaurants and food markets should at least tell/inform their customers about where the food came from, what it was fed, what chemicals it was exposed to, how it lived out its life and how they are killed. People deserve to know what they are consuming.

On the matter of pesticides, well, did you know that corn is in almost anything? And that some pesticides used on corn are so dangerous and toxic to humans that nobody is allowed in that sector of the field for days on end.

So I believe that there should be a list in every restaurant and market that entails all the pesticides and chemicals used in the foods there. People can do further research if they want but don’t necessarily have to.

Thank you ever so much for, possibly, reading my letter. I do hope that you take important facts into account and don’t let the corporations live over human lives.

I trust that you will make the right choice.

P.S. (For formality’s sake) I urge you to make Ojai a humane city U.S.A. and to make Ojai a pesticide-free city. As I am not an idealist, I don’t believe this will happen right away, but I hope overtime we can work toward this goal. We could start this by putting informational fliers around town to educate the public.

I am a fourth generation resident of Ojai, with both my grandparents, Clive and Marion Leeman, living here, and my father Philip growing up here.

Isabella S. Fried Leeman

Standup to Utilities Commission

With the recent news from the White House — on the decision to begin the process to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement — I wanted to comment on my efforts to reduce my own carbon footprint.

I went solar three years ago — and for the last 18 months or so I have been hit with a $10 a month penalty for having the gall to have taken steps to reduce my carbon footprint. This monthly penalty is in addition to the yearly penalty of roughly $180 dollars (this is when I push $190 worth of electricity back to the grid — that amount is exchanged for about $10 dollars — which I am refunded). If these fees and ripoffs were not done with the blessing of the State PUC [Public Utilities Commission] they would likely be considered criminal but there were done with that blessing. The PUC chose not to stand up to the lobbyists. I can eat the penalty and ripoff from Southern California Edison but I do have great concern that the penalties and fees will discourage others from going solar.

For my part, I did not go solar to save money — my electric bill had been between $20 and $25 a month. I may never “recover” my investment costs. My monthly electric bill dropped to about $2 or so (the reduction — resulting in the penalty). Southern California Edison claims they need to charge the penalty to recover their delivery charge. And perhaps I would be fine with that if I were allowed to charge them the same monthly delivery charge for what I return to their grid.

I do wish our State Government and Gov. Brown did a better job of standing up to the lobbyists who pushed the PUC to approve these bogus charges. The main reason I encourage Gov. Brown and our state government to get a backbone and respond to the scam is this — we need MORE people to go solar — and this fee/scam from Southern California Edison will likely discourage others from going solar. For those looking to go solar — I would encourage them to do so — hopefully before too long we will have options to store our surplus energy on low cost batteries. The lobbyists and scam artists? Our state government and the PUC has the option of standing up to them.

John Sanders Jones

Transparency in Oxnard

It is typical that the City of Oxnard releases documents Thursday evening, after the close of business for the public to review, primarily for a public meeting the following week. Due to Monday meetings, many members of the city staff are unavailable to answer questions prior to public meetings. Why is it that if an engaged member of the public studies those documents and prepares for the meeting that person cannot get answers to the questions he asks?

Regarding the budget, I am concerned that funds set aside for specific purposes are not being used for those purposes. I am also concerned that as a result of underspending, those unspent funds are not returned to the unappropriated fund balance from which those funds originated, to be appropriated at some future date. It is not staff’s decision to determine how public funds are to be expended, but the elected officials.

If the budget specifies that specific amount of funds are to be used to pay for staffing, those funds should be either used to pay for staffing or returned to the appropriate fund. It was stated Monday evening (06/05/2017) that funds for staffing of non-city employees are part of the budget and are separate from the funds allocated for department staffing. The so-called 5 percent variance as a result on not being 100 percent staffed 100 percent of the time should not be expended for non-staffing expenses. This is particularly true if the budget already considers the need to use outside labor such as consultants, attorneys and staffing agencies.

The budget is just a tool. It is not written in concrete. However, any changes to the budget must be presented to the public and the elected officials in a public forum, not behind closed doors or in closed session.

Lawrence Paul Stein