Tag Archives: Environment

An Open Letter to LEAF: please help defeat Issue 64

The following is a letter which I recently addressed to the Lakewood Earth and Food Community (LEAF)

There is no more respected voice in Lakewood on issues of sustainability, health and local resilience than LEAF. The deal that closed Lakewood Hospital impacts all of these issues, in predominantly negative ways. I would like to ask LEAF’s members to consider joining opponents of this deal, which voters will confront in November as Issue 64.

Closing our hospital leaves Lakewood without many important health services. Worse, it leaves Lakewood without the control over local interests that our publicly owned hospital protected. As experience has demonstrated—in East Cleveland, in Sagamore Hills, and in Lakewood—a private multinational will pay lip-service to what’s best for communities even while transferring away resources that people depend on.

In Lakewood, this means not only lifesaving medical services, but a resource equally important to most people’s wellbeing: nearly 1,000 jobs. The reintroduction of those jobs at sites outside of Lakewood, meanwhile, only underscores this plan’s most serious harm to LEAF’s mission. As environmental sustainability inherently requires both local action and a holistic outlook, the deal that closed Lakewood Hospital must be considered within a regional context.

In this context, the deal has nothing to do with a changing need for hospital services, and everything to do with sequestering those services in the most affluent zip codes. Shutting down Lakewood’s publicly owned hospital and opening a private hospital in Avon cannot be judged separately in matters of sustainability. If we are to steer ourselves away from unhealthy and environmentally costly development and lifestyles, we need to promote compact, walkable cities like Lakewood. The efforts of LEAF exemplify this planning for tomorrow. In contrast, transferring hospital services to a car-dependent exurb exemplifies the worst features of failed models.

Even if part of this plan is outside the direct control of Lakewood, we can still pursue better options than simply conforming to a harmful trend. Our city and region need community leaders to step forward, today, and help make that choice clear. I hope the members of LEAF will respond to this need, and oppose the choice of sprawl and outsourcing by voting against Issue 64. Our committee will be pleased to answer questions at any time, and we thank you for your ongoing good work.

Sincerely,

Matt Kuhns
Sr. Editor, Save Lakewood Hospital Committee

Keystone XL

Let’s be clear on something. The KeystoneXL pipeline project is a pipeline to bigger climate risks.

This is a basic fact, regardless of any official report stating otherwise. As a friend of mine with an MBA has confirmed, the main thing he learned in earning it is that for any analysis of this scale, 2 + 2 = “whatever you want it to.”

The suggestion that “building this pipeline will not contribute substantially to carbon pollution” does not stand up to simpler, less “flexible” tests. The client for this project is an industry that enables the combustion of very, very dirty carbon fuels. That’s how they make money, that’s their agenda, that’s the purpose of this pipeline. If the assertion that “the pipeline won’t make a difference to climate change because the tar sands will be burned either way” were true, why would TransCanada (and its subsidiary, the Canadian Parliament) be so obsessed with their desire for the pipeline?

If it “won’t make a difference,” why waste good resources on a years-long lobbying effort?

Ultimately, any proposal for how pursuit of KXL advances a profit motive, but does not exacerbate carbon pollution, ignores the core problem of climate change politics. If profits from exploitation of fossil fuels were really something separable from increasing carbon pollution, there would not be a controversy. There is one, however, because these phenomena are joined at the hip.

Suggestions to the contrary = making shit up.

Toledo’s water crisis & climate change

Recently The Plain Dealer* published a letter that I sent them. It’s online, here; I’m not sure whether it was in the print edition or not. Meanwhile, in continuing the long-term project of making this site my personal archive, I’m posting the text of the letter below:

This past weekend delivered a valuable climate change lesson, for anyone willing to notice it.

Aside from being fed by climate change, the infection of Toledo’s water offers a microcosm of the entire problem. Our waters are treated like a sewer; so is our atmosphere. It’s nonetheless easy to ignore the problem for a long time; sure, that algae bloom looks nasty on satellite imagery but nothing suddenly appeared different the day that people started getting sick. Meanwhile, the sky still looks the same as we vent ever more heat-trapping gasses into it, and the option of listening to “skeptics” seems entirely valid.

Yet as we’ve just had a reminder, a day can arrive when the rubber meets the road, and even Kevin O’Brien** (probably) would have turned down the Kool-Aid if it were made with Toledo water. Now we have Senator Portman, e.g., suddenly declaring “I think this is a wake-up call.” Perhaps it would be better to pay attention to environmental safety ahead of time, though, rather than always sleeping in until the alarms are going off?

Footnotes, not included in the original letter:

* Or cleveland.com, or Northeast Ohio Media Group, or whatever they’re calling themselves today.

** AKA “Hell no I’m not going to subscribe, not even if it were a year for a penny; are you crazy?”