Fresno Bee letters: On alternative energy, almond farming, water use and droughts

OPINION AND COMMENTARY

Editorials and other Opinion content offer perspectives on issues important to our community and are independent from the work of our newsroom reporters.

No simple answers for future energy

In the March 25 edition, one can’t help noticing two opinion pieces from the Bee staff. Tad Weber explains the potential benefits of the Newsom gas tax reduction plan, while Marek Warszawski makes his case that county government should not be promoting more oil production.

Firstly, has Warszsawski stopped driving? Have you stopped heating or cooling your home? Not only that, but the truth that nobody wants to admit is that alternative energy sources are no less polluting than fossil fuels in the long run. What are we supposed to do with the rare earth minerals from used up solar panels and batteries? And of course, these materials come to us from friendly neighbors like China.

The simple answer is that there are no simple answers. Remember the oft mentioned “energy cannot be created or destroyed but only changed?” The process of changing it to something we can use is itself messy.

Ignorance seems to be the goal

Banning books is bad. Banning critical race theory is worse.

Racism is the great mistake of America. It makes hypocrites of all those who claim historical superiority for this nation. The idea of ​​making the study of racism illegal is really a throwback to white supremacy rule. And the idea of ​​making illegal any history that makes students ‘uncomfortable’ is simply laughable. Should we ignore the horrors of slavery? Ignore the genocides of the Jews, Armenians and American Indians? There are many aspects of history that should make us cringe, but they happened. To attempt to ban their teaching is to whitewash history.

But there’s more. Those who want to do this are ignoring the other important word — theory. That’s science’s best guess at this time. It relies on known evidence, and can be altered with new discoveries. Would you outlaw the theory of continental drift? How about the theory of relativity? Some don’t like the theory of evolution, but the ideas still need to be presented.

Students need to be aware. To do anything else is to make ignorant of our kids, but maybe that is the goal of this movement.

Stephen Pendleton, Visalia

Almond farmers, look in the mirror

We are treated yet again to another tirade about how farmers are the victims in all things. This time by Aubrey Bettencourt, the president and CEO of the Almond Alliance.

The first flaw in her argument lies in the fact that she is trying to bend the facts to fit her blame of a “winner take all” mentality on the part of environmental politicians and lobbyists, elected and not elected, “who have no interest in finding joint solutions.” Perhaps she was looking in the mirror when that idea came to mind.

It is a unique day indeed, when we don’t hear about almond growers complain about lack of water to grow their orchards where they were never intended to grow in the first place. Almonds are one of the thirstiest permanent crops growing. Of course, her assertions of her are founded on the notion of very real food security fears, which in her explanation of her implies that almonds are a staple of human consumption. But then changes course by claiming that “If we doin’t have enough water to grow and the ability to ship our products overseas, we lose our competitive edge,” which is an admission that the greater concern is less money in the pockets of the large almond consortiums that she represents.

Then comes the real stretch; “Mother Nature creates droughts. A lack of leadership creates water shortages.” That is an interesting characterization. For the last 10 years especially, there have been no shortage of farmers plowing over stone fruit and grapes only to plant more almonds. This drought has been ongoing with a year or two of rains for more than a decade. When they can’t get it from the ditch, the big nut farmers just drill deeper wells.

The point here is that almond farmers don’t really care about the consequences of never ending water consumption. People like Ms Bettencourt can point the finger all they want, but the fact remains, they are tone deaf when it comes to their own out-of-control water use, which is a problem of their own making, especially when it comes to a nut that has more monetary value than nutritional value.

Drinking water, or a green lawn?

As in past years, on April 1, Fresno summarized a three-days-a-week water schedule. Rather than allowing residents to increase their watering days, the Fresno City Council and the Fresno Department of Public Utilities should no longer allow residence to water their lawns.

The current and future demand for water will continue to exceed the supply California receives from rain and snow. There is increasing demand for water from a rising population, agribusiness and the need to maintain Delta ecosystems. Yet, there is no way to increase the supply of water.

While dam infrastructure needs upgrading, building new dams will not increase the water supply or decrease the demand. Over the past 100 years, agribusiness’ has drilled more than 100,000 wells and is draining the groundwater aquifer that took up to 20,000 years to accumulate. And now the Valley floor is sinking.

California continues to suffer from severe drought. Fresno’s residents have to decrease the demand for water by stopping lawn watering. Fresno residents need to decide, do they want drinking water or a green lawn? The decision should be easy.

A ploy for water to make money

Aubrey Bettencourt argues in Valley Voices that to help farming, we need to increase our “water storage and conveyance.” She seems to be saying that we should build more dams and reservoirs. Ms. Bettencourt does not discuss how building more dams and reservoirs would alter our current balance of land we set aside to enjoy and land we set aside to help farming.

She argues we need more water storage and conveyance for our food security. She says we risk not having enough to eat in our own country. At the same time, she acknowledges that many of our farm goods actually get sold in other countries. She says that on account of current shipping problems, farm goods are rotting in seaports, instead of going to their intended overseas markets.

So, what is the real point of building more dams and reservoirs? Is it really about helping farmers achieve food security for us? Or is it about wanting to sell more farm goods overseas?

Ms. Bettencourt talks about food security at home, but the case she makes for building dams and reservoirs looks like a simple interest in selling more farm goods overseas.

Rights for felons is simply wrong

Here we go again with letting the criminals have their open field day of looting and killing. Of course the activist and civil rights groups have to step in with the gangs’ civil rights. I don’t know about you, but when did we elect these activists into office to demand we obey their rule.

I didn’t realize that being a gang member or part of a gang is not against the law. Maybe it’s time for a change. Since they have let all these so-called activists and civil rights groups take over, our cities have become war zones and our eleven beautiful towns are decaying.

I never dreamed that all the years I have lived here I would see the day streets that would look this bad, and the bad guy would take over our rights. I think it’s time for our governor and city leaders to start listening to citizens and not these groups of idiots. Who are these unelected people? Time to run these groups out of town.

Supes oil vote was incomprehensible

Thank you, Marek Warszawski, for your thoughtful, provocative column of March 25 about our supervisors’ choice to ignore climate change and opt for more oil digging to deal with increased gas prices.

As suggested, what can explain their position but money. With so many alternatives, why choose the one that is most harmful to our Valley that already suffers from the worst air pollution in the country? Their position will lead to a more difficult world to live in and certainly a much harder one to stop the horrific, costly climate-related weather episodes we are having.

What about more money for solar rebates and other green energy? Make green energy readily accessible to all. Put a price on carbon at the source so that those who pollute are those that pay. Scientists agree this will help us reach our Net Zero emission goals. Return the money to the public as dividends to absorb increased costs. Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-partisan, national grassroots organization, suggests just that and fights to save our planet from the terrible destruction that awaits us without any action. Perhaps our supervisors should research these alternatives and take their hands out of their pockets.

In praise of Dr. Salk and his vaccine

On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced that he had successfully tested a vaccine against the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. In 1952 there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. For his work in helping to eradicate the disease, which mainly affects children, Dr. Salk was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time.

Today, there are just a handful of polio cases in the United States every year. Among other honors, Jonas Salk was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. He died in La Jolla in 1995.

I wonder what Dr. Salk would say about people’s refusal to be vaccinated against COVID.

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