Letters for the Week of May 4, 2016

Readers sound off on Planting Justice, Rock the Bike, and CalPERS interest in tobacco investments.

“When Meaningful Work Means Healthy Food,” Sustainable Living, 4/20

Planting Justice

I hired Planting Justice to repair my irrigation system last summer and was pleased with the quality of work and the demeanor of the workers. We need more organizations like this to fight against the tide of poverty!

Silvia Sykes, Oakland

“Greening the Festival Experience,” Sustainable Living, 4/20

Healing the Planet

I have a ton of respect for Paul, Rock The Bike, and all these musicians who load up their Extracycles with sound equipment, and bike to their gigs, and use people power to power their shows. If the planet is healed it will be because of dedicated people like them.

Adrian West, Oakland

“CalPERS Should Refuse to Fund Tobacco,” Raising the Bar, 4/13


Thank you for drawing attention to this outrageous hypocrisy. At a time when the fossil fuel industry is being compared to Big Tobacco — because of their insidious influence on public health and public policy, not their investment returns — it is unacceptable to even float a trial balloon about having public pension funds return to tobacco. Perhaps as you suggest, desperate investment professionals think that the public has forgotten tobacco’s negative impact on public health. Or they think the public is ready to blame the victims of tobacco addition for their health problems. Or maybe they think the public is ignorant about the reckless hyping of tobacco to underage youth outside the United States. Weren’t the negative returns on tobacco established by the settlement with state attorney generals?

Lisa Lindsley, Gardiner, NY

“Can Cars Be Environmentally Friendly?” Sustainable Living, 4/20

All Technology is Harmful

I generally agree with Darwin BondGraham’s column. The headline asking whether cars can be environmentally friendly is correctly and immediately answered in the sub-headline (“greenest car is no car”).  However, as is typical for people who defend our extremely destructive society, BondGraham makes excuses for driving, and the column deteriorates into advocating for buying new cars that are not quite as environmentally harmful to drive.

First and foremost, all human technology is environmentally harmful, even an electric car charged by the solar panels on the owner’s roof. Mining for metals and oil drilling for plastics is required just to be build the car, not to mention all of the toxics from the batteries. Roads themselves are very environmentally and ecologically harmful, which is why conservationists oppose building new ones. 

We will never fix the environmental problems caused by harmful activities like driving by making excuses for continuing to engage in those harmful activities. Nor will we fix any serious environmental problems by refusing to admit that technology itself is the problem. We need to move toward living a lot more simply and naturally in order to stop doing such great harm to our planet.

Jeff Hoffman, Berkeley

“Oakland Hotel Approved Despite Minimum Wage Violations,” News, 4/20

Should Be Denied

The Oakland City Council has a very hard time getting anything right, regardless of these small donations to their political campaigns by the various entities involved in this hotel dispute. Of course the Patels should not be approved for another hotel if they are violating the law at the hotels they already operate. Whether that is something the Planning and Zoning Department was allowed to consider, or whether the city council should have considered it separately from the planning report, obviously the Patels’ track record should have been considered. If they are prominent politically, their track record should have been considered to avoid the appearance of favoritism. Their application should be denied. Let a more reputable investor build the hotel instead.

Jan Van Dusen, Oakland

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