Letters for the Week of February 17, 2016

Readers sound off on lying landlords, the "real" Brooklyn, and corrupt parole boards.

“When Landlords Lie,” News, 2/3

What Happened?

I used to be proud to be an American. Now, not so much. When did such brazen greed take over our towns, cities, and country?

Janet Butler, Alameda

Sue the Landlord

Why wasn’t the health department called about the substandard apartment in the bottom of the building where the landlord allegedly claimed to have been living without electricity, etc.?

This landlord needs to be sued for disrupting the peace and hurting perfectly reasonable tenants for profit.

Roberta Llewellyn, Sebastapol

“The Real Brooklyn,” Then and Now, 2/3

Great Job!

Brilliant article. Thank you for bringing to light the rich history of our area. Parts of Trestle Glen were also included in Brooklyn.

Steve Kopff, Oakland

“Trapped: Parts One and Two,” Features, 1/6 and 1/13

Parole Board Members Exhibit ‘Sick Behavior’

The two in-depth articles on the California parole board illustrate mental problems — not of the inmates seeking parole — but of parole board members. I’m no mental health professional, but I see cruelty and sadism in the actions of the board members toward the inmates during the parole hearings. Their “reasons” for denying parole are nothing more than excuses for their own sick behavior. They also exhibit the same range of attitudes (smug, self-satisfied, judgmental, and unreasonable) that I have seen in criminal court from district attorneys, judges, and even bailiffs, treating inmates and their friends and families with contempt.

Jan Van Dusen, Oakland

Miscellaneous Letter

Ditch the Hopium

In the wake of the historic Paris Agreement signed in December, Bill McKibben of 350.org urged us to hold global leaders accountable to the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit they set at the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference, the COP21. McKibben made a solid point: Although world leaders have pledged to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, their actual plans commit the world to a 3.5-degree increase. This would very likely derail civilization, destabilize the biosphere, and cause mass human and non-human die-offs. McKibben dubs that dissonance the difference between “hope and action.”

We can no longer afford to hope. So called #ClimateHope has not brought us closer to justice for our species but rather closer to calamity. Furthermore, hope as an emotion depends on fear, and we cannot afford to fear anymore than necessary in these trying times.

It’s not about the environment anymore; the very survival of humanity is at stake. Indeed, as Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, has said: Climate change is the greatest human rights issue in the world today.

So what of survival? Survival depends on us doing the following. Firstly, we must keep it in the ground: Force the fossil fuel industry to power down by any means necessary, leaving untapped at least 80 percent of the world’s remaining fossil fuels. Equally important is to re-carbonize the soil: Immediately transition agriculture from degenerative industrial modes to regenerative, agro-ecological systems.

At the same time, we’ve got to uproot the toxic system of capitalism — which got us into this quandary in the first place. Instead of capitalism, we need to create localized, living, regenerative economies that are mostly self-sufficient.

Fourth on the list: immediate, sustained climate reparations to the tune of trillions of dollars from Europe and North America, whose consumption caused the climate crisis, to the poorer Global Southern countries that need the money to adapt to climate chaos. Moreover, the Global Southern countries are being hit hardest by climatic changes and are least responsible for the problem. Lastly, we must reforest land and revitalize ecosystems, putting even more carbon into the soil where it belongs.

Some suggest that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is enough, but it isn’t. Only by uprooting capitalism, ensuring equitable monetary reparations to developing countries for climate injustice, and re-carbonizing the soil through regenerative agriculture do we have a chance at making it this century.

Colin Murphy, Oakland


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