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Letters July 30: Not such a silent spring after all; we must adapt to a fossil-fuelled reality for now

Birds circle around a downtown Victoria development under construction. A letter-writer says the crash in bird populations forecast in popular 20th-century writing such as Silent Spring never actually occurred to the degree that was predicted. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Environment claims have been proven wrong

Re: “We were warned about the ­environment,” letter, July 29.

The false prophet of doom, Paul Ehrlich, wasn’t actually right about anything. No prediction he made in The Population Bomb ever came to pass, either on the timeline he specified, or at all.

He predicted global mass famines for the 1980s, and that life expectancy would drop to age 42 in the U.S. in that era. This obviously didn’t occur.

His prediction that commodity prices for copper, tin and three other metals would rise significantly between 1980 and 1990 — due to his belief they would become scarce as population rose — was completely wrong, especially in the case of tin. As a result, he lost a $1,000 bet on it.

As for Rachel Carson, bird and fish populations did not in fact plummet during the use of DDT, nor did cancer rates among humans skyrocket. While some pesticides are in fact dangerous to people and animals, a lot of the conclusions reached in Silent Spring were based on speculation and hype (don’t believe the hype).

The fact that people still revere these two as if they were some sort of latter-day Nostradamus is, quite frankly, an amazing phenomenon.

While both those individuals are moderately to profoundly (in Ehrlich’s case) incorrect, there probably is something in the water if significant numbers of people still stubbornly cling to any of their provably wrong claims.

April J. Gibson

We all need to adapt to a new reality

Another opinion from Trevor Hancock about the upcoming end of the world.

Can someone tell me one day in the past 50 years when someone hasn’t died in a war? Can someone tell me one day in the past 50 years when someone has not starved to death?

Now it’s climate change and people will die. As things get worse, people will die and there will be collateral damage.

I chuckle when everyone blames big oil for our woes — hey, big oil just produces the stuff, we are the end users, our insatiable demands for more and bigger.

Here is an idea: let’s go cold turkey on fossil fuels worldwide. You want to see mass deaths? In six months 90 per cent of the population will be dead.

There is the reset button. Fossil fuels have given mankind a lifestyle that is not going to be given up. The only thing we can do is adapt and move on.

Sheldon Reves

Cook Street roundabout was a bad idea

Anyone who has done even a bit of research into accepted traffic management practices knows that a key principle relating to roundabouts is that they are not to be used at the intersection of streets with dramatically different traffic loads (like Cook and Southgate).

As a Fairfield resident and frequent user of Cook Street, I can say with confidence that the roundabout in question has increased hazard levels significantly.

The roundabout right-of-way rule in North America is that the vehicle in the roundabout has the right of way. For stop sign-controlled intersections one yields to the vehicle on the right. The tiny Cook Street roundabout, with yield signs everywhere and a tiny size, effectively acts as a stop sign — oh yeah, we already had one of those for vehicles coming east on Southgate.

The installation, with two crosswalks and another about 30 metres farther south, is visually distracting. This does not help drivers trying to figure out which vehicle actually has the right of way and, in fact, increases hazard levels for pedestrians.

If the objective was speed control for Cook Street traffic, two speed bumps would have been more effective and yes, quite a bit less expensive.

Or perhaps simply stop signs on Cook — but no, that would have been obviously stupid. Much better to have the more subtle stupidity of a midget roundabout that, while perhaps catering to the woke sector of citizenry, actually increases hazard levels.

One would be hard pressed to find many Fairfield drivers who think the subject roundabout has reduced hazard level at the intersection of Cook and Southgate.

Jamie Kyles

Look at governance across the region

Re: “Governance report has lesson for candidates,” editorial, July 27.

There are some big numbers in the editorial on the MNP governance report. Perhaps the most interesting to taxpayers and residence should be the 589-page agenda for one meeting of the council.

To be clear that is for the City of Victoria with 90,000 residents, less than a quarter of in a region of 400,000. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of a much larger iceberg.

Is it any wonder that with no regional government, the neighbourhood municipalities in Greater Victoria maintain 18 fire chiefs, five police forces, far too many emergency operations centres, parks and recreations departments and on and on?

As the governance review demonstrates, the focus of Victoria council is at often variance with the interests of taxpayers and residents. How else could one explain 81 per cent of survey respondents indicated their dissatisfaction with municipal governance, and more shockingly 79 per cent of respondents believe that council decisions are not being made in the best interests of the community.

For how much longer will the provincial government leave decisions to change the situation both in the City of Victoria and in the region more generally in the hands of those who least welcome it, the 91 — soon to be 93 — municipal counsellors and mayors?

Time to broaden the MNP study?

John Treleaven, chair
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria

We need a council that backs structural reform

Re: “Governance report has lesson for candidates,” editorial, July 27.

This “governance report” apparently focuses mainly on procedural and managerial issues in the operation of Victoria’s council, but those problems need to be addressed in the broader context of our province’s inappropriate structure for municipal governance.

Here there are too many separate municipal governments for this relatively small region, and our neighbourhoods within the city of Victoria (e.g., James Bay) are not necessarily represented by councillors with any particular accountability to or understanding of them (indeed, our members of council are not even required to reside in the city whose interests they are elected to serve).

The major results of this “over-governance” include inefficiency due to expensive duplication of bureaucracies plus overlap of services, and ineffectiveness due to the lack of a mandate from or responsibility to any given locality’s voters.

Consequently, many citizens do not feel well represented or listened to at city hall, several councillors focus on partisan or personal priorities that are not top-of-mind for typical municipal electors or even within the jurisdiction of this level of government, and revenue from our property taxes has too often been wasted or misdirected while our well-being has been put at risk through inadequate or inconsistent co-ordination of emergency services throughout Greater Victoria.

While these serious problems stemming from our deeply flawed municipal governance structure are a matter of primarily provincial concern, it is unlikely that any B.C. government will tackle them unless urged to do so by the municipalities that bear the brunt of this dysfunctionality.

So let’s elect a new mayor and council with the courage to demand that our provincial government adopt the restructuring of local governance as a matter of urgency, rather than continuing to protect the faulty system that created their current jobs.

Robin Farquhar

Giving blood is a great experience

How often do you visit an organization where every single person you connect with is well-organized, friendly and extremely helpful?

That is what happened when I had a first experience at the blood donor clinic on Saanich Road last week. In the hour I was there I met with nine individuals and they were all exceptional in their roles.

As new experiences go, I felt like a happy toddler on the first day at a perfect nursery school. From the welcoming person at the front door right on through to the young student who volunteers at the apres-blood-donating-snacks-table (she plans to study medicine); they were all personable, good communicators and super efficient.

They took my information, explained the procedure, did a little blood test to check hemoglobin levels and led me on through. The blood donor clinic was spotless and the organizational workflow through the place was ideal.

As I was born with ask-questions-itis, I got to know a bit about the business and was impressed. I was especially charmed with Bronwyn, the person who took my blood. A few questions later I learned that she had an MFA and specialized in fabric arts.

She seems to love her job now but hopes to work in her under-appreciated field full-time one day. (My adjective about the field, not hers.) She made a charming joke about being good with needles. And she was.

I love the fact that we give blood here, unlike many places where people sell their blood. I am not making a judgment about people who need to sell their blood to make ends meet; just thankful that we give blood here.

Not everyone can give blood, for many, important, good reasons; but if you can, I recommend the high from partaking in a good cause.

Thelma Fayle

Mount Tolmie vista is being enjoyed again

My home backs onto Mayfair Drive, which is the road that takes you over the top of Mount Tolmie.

For the past nearly three years it has been very quiet. It is such a pleasure to see tour buses full of happy visitors once again chugging their way up to the summit of Mount Tolmie to witness the sunset and to watch Greater Victoria come alive for the evening.

Mount Tolmie is one of the jewels in our community’s tourist industry. Remember, that there are really only two main industries in Greater Victoria that contribute to our quality of life. Government, both provincial and federal, and tourism.

It is great to see the cruise ships coming in and tour buses climbing Mount Tolmie again to allow our visitors a spectacular view of our beautiful city.

Paul Arnold

Fairness, freedom, and we too, must change

Until recently the richer nations have had rising expectations bolstered by new technologies and the illusion of infinite resources, efficiencies, and resilient and boundless fecund wilderness. Quick chemical and infrastructure fixes eased our concerns, with pesticides, fertilizers and medical wizardry.

The enormity of nuclear war was for many seen as unlikely given the assumed sanity of those with their fingers near the button. Improving living standards made massive murder-suicide patently ridiculous.

Indulgence was entertainment for the audience as well as the indulging. Why care about the obscene riches of the one per cent if all were promised better in coming years?

But now climate change is wreaking havoc on our infrastructure and the harvests of many, war has affected supply lines, and diseases have broken through geographical, species and medical boundaries, and created new social ones. Much has changed.

Travelways must be proscribed for infection and greenhouse-gas reduction. Musk, Bezos and Branson are warming the planet, spending billions to massage their egos and give the wealthy joyrides into the edge of space.

The overuse of fertilizers has progressively impoverished the soils and polluted watery habitats, while their prices have multiplied to make a decent return to many farmers as unreliable as the chaotic weather systems.

It’s not fair, and while for most of us now know that a transoceanic flight is inconvenient, expensive, ethically inadvisable and medically risky, the elites in private jets or first-class luxury carry on, free as the bird species we are not yet decimating.

A sharp culture change is needed to redefine what is important in freedom and fairness, that we may surmount these newly experienced massive threats.

We must control the wanton selfishness of the elites, raise hope amongst a better treated and included poor, and spend serious time working to lower our carbon footprint, finding joy in less material ways, as in other cultures.

It is that or increasing discomfort and less variety amongst animals and plants, and from that reduction less stability and resilience of the ecosystems we now know are so vital to our survival.

Glynne Evans

Return B.C. Ferries to a Crown corporation

As a former executive financial officer in the province of B.C., I have advice for B.C. Ferries board chair Joy MacPhail: She should consult with the interim CEO Jill Sharland on the true cost of debt-financing this entity.

Twenty years ago, when B.C. Ferries was reconstituted from a Crown corporation to a private corporation solely owned by B.C., it enabled the government of the day to remove B.C. Ferries’ debt from the books of the province, thus creating and maintaining the political fiction of reduced debt.

Make no mistake, this is still debt for which the people of B.C. are ultimately responsible.

Furthermore, it had the affect of increasing the amount of annual debt servicing costs by millions of dollars. Private corporations must borrow money (issue bonds) at higher rates due to their higher risk. Governments borrow at lower rates due to their low risk.

Typically the yield spread between corporate and government bonds is between one and two per cent. Organized as a private company, B.C. Ferries pays much higher interest costs than if it were a Crown corporation.

Looking at the current debt of B.C. Ferries, one can roughly calculate the excess interest costs paid to corporate bond holders over the past 20 years. It will bring tears to your eyes.

I urge MacPhail to have a detailed analysis of these costs prepared, and then justify why this organization should not be reconstituted back into a Crown corporation, thus saving the people of B.C. billions.

Lesley Ewing
Oak Bay

Thanks, Deuce Days, for keeping history alive

The recent letter about “toxic masculinity” with regards to Deuce Days is a bit puzzling if not just mean-spirited. The restoration of planes, trains and automobiles, as well as many other forms of transportation, is a hobby for millions of people around the world that ensures the historical preservation of machinery from a bygone era.

This work, often a labour of love with little to no financial return, enables future generations to learn and enjoy the history of transportation.

The people who preserve these cars are historians and should be thanked, not denigrated.

Gwyn Davie


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