Letters Nov. 10: Dangers of wearing all black, sustaining world economy

World economy is not sustainable

Re: “Economic growth saves lives — and we’ll need it,” Lawrie Mcfarlane, Nov. 3.

Lawrie Mcfarlane asks if Thomas Malthus was right in 1798 when he predicted famine as the world population increased and answers “categorically no.” It is Mcfarlane, not Malthus, who is categorically wrong.

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Malthus’s prediction was made in the context of his time. He could not have foreseen the industrial revolution, which extended the horizon of his prediction, but did not render it false.

The industrial revolution produced economic growth that enhanced human welfare by replacing human and animal energy with fossil-fuel energy and increased soil productivity with chemical fertilizers.

While economic growth improved life in the industrialized world, it did little for the unindustrialized “third” world.

Medical science, not economic growth, reduced infant mortality and increased life expectancy worldwide.

A principle of nature is that everything goes somewhere.

Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is discharged into the atmosphere, where it traps solar radiation, heating the Earth and acidifying the oceans.

Phosphates from chemical fertilizers and farm animals end up in surface waters, causing excessive algal growth.

The oceans that supply protein to a billion of the Earth’s people are already overfished and polluted with waste plastic.

Humanity has already exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity. Economic growth must be sustainable and equitable. The present world economy is neither.

Harvey Williams

Population will eventually exceed capacity

After reading Lawrie McFarlane’s article, I can see why they are called opinion pieces and not journalism.

Regarding China’s “disastrous” population policy: the one-child policy occurred within the context of a societal preference for male offspring, resulting in a large gender disparity, and therefore is not an indictment of population control in general.

Plus, without the one-child policy, it is estimated that China’s population would be half a billion larger than it is currently, which could easily have been a disaster in and of itself.

As for the topic of population control: left unchecked, an ever-increasing population will at some point exceed the carrying capacity of our home planet.

Why not start a rational conversation about population control now, rather than have a solution imposed upon us?

J.K. Cornes

Poverty-level picture must include debt

Lawrie Mcfarlane’s premise that poverty levels today are lower than during the 1700s and current levels are a product of economic growth is questionable.

Although this might appear to be true when viewed through the eyes of madmen, economists or some columnists, a closer examination of financial details tells a much different story.

At the end of 2018, Canadian households owed just over $2 trillion. And the average Canadian owed about $1.70 for every dollar of income he or she earned, after taxes. That’s a lot of debt, exceeded by only a few countries.

So, while poverty during the Malthus era may have been as high as 90 per cent, if we factor in the true debtload of Canadians today, conveniently concealed by fiscal and monetary policies, we find that Canadians are actually financially worse off than folks living in the 1700s.

If household debt in Canada is about 170 per cent of gross income, the only way of claiming there is less poverty today is by ignoring reality as well as the environment and the future.

Ken Dwernychuk

Diverse Island Voices appreciated

Re: “Economic growth saves lives — and we’ll need it,” Lawrie Mcfarlane, Nov. 3; “A lunatic mainstream, or a sensible fringe?” Trevor Hancock, Oct. 20.

I commend and appreciate the Times Colonist for publishing columns expressing diverse viewpoints — for example, Trevor Hancock and Lawrie McFarlane.

The challenge ahead is for all of us to maintain and develop a “growth mindset” as opposed to a “fixed mindset” (see Geoff Johnson’s Nov. 3 column), which means being open to hearing and considering alternative positions and being willing to change ours.

Phyllis McGee
North Saanich

Wearing all-black at night is deadly fashion choice

The season of dark nights and rain is here and the dress code of a large proportion of the population seems to be black from head to foot. Insane but true.

A driver’s vision is already impaired with the new “improved” headlights in their eyes and the generally poor visibility in such dark and wet conditions.

Wear all black, add a black hat, hoodie or toque, a black back pack and if raining a black umbrella — people then become invisible on a poorly lit or unlit street.

Often they are on the road with their backs to traffic and listening on headphones or texting.

Illuminated flashing arm bands are two for $6, dog collars $13, safety belts $25 and vests $25.

Pedestrians, skateboarders and cyclists often with black helmets if they are even wearing one and often no rear light. How much are your lives worth? Do you have a death wish?

All black is in insane choice without lighting of some kind. Add to this, vehicles with only one headlight working which the police seem to completely ignore and it becomes a recipe for disaster.

Ian Geddes
Oak Bay

Don’t use students as pawns in labour dispute

I am a Grade 11 student in Saanich School District 63 and my job as a kid is to go to school and learn the curriculum. I am taking two Grade 12 classes, Chemistry and Biology and plan to attend university after graduation. These classes are important to me as I am going to be undertaking a bachelor of science program. They are also important to me as I am applying for a summer internship and need these classes for the competition. Unfortunately, I cannot teach myself the material nor do I have access to it.

To the support-workers union: I can understand that you would like to be paid the same as neighbouring districts. I also have a part time job for which I am paid minimum wage in addition to volunteering at the hospital and being on a sport team. What I don’t understand is why I am paying the price while you “negotiate a deal.”

As a student in B.C., I feel that the unions and adults are using my education as a hostage tool for their advantage. We kids are tired of being used as pawns in your adult chess game. We want to go back to school now.

OJ Hopkins

Therapy dogs and their rewarding work

Re: “The last days of Quinn the therapy dog,” comment, Nov. 7.

Thanks to Quinn, the little therapy dog, for giving joy and comfort to people in his lifetime.

Thank you, Barry Carlson, for writing about his experiences with little Quinn.

I noticed that Quinn is wearing a turquoise bandana, the colour of P.A.T.S. The Pacific Animal Therapy Society, a brainchild of Sadey Guy, has been operating for many years with volunteers visiting seniors homes, schools, libraries, hospitals, SPCA and single people with their pets (mainly dogs, but also rabbits, cats, even a llama).

It is always a joy to see the reaction of people to the dog: a moment of recognition and remembrance of a pet once owned in seniors, the pleasure of a child when petting a dog for the first time.

There is a lot of comfort and healing when a dog comes visiting. Lately, P.A.T.S. dogs have been invited to de-stress events at UVic and high schools, where they helped students to forget about upcoming exams and being away from home. The dogs enjoy the attention and love that comes with each pat and cuddle they get.

Not all dogs can be therapy dogs, but when they wear the bandana, you know, that they are certified, a service provided by a volunteer veterinarian through the society.

A big thank you to all the P.A.T.S. dogs and their handlers as well as the members of the board, who handle the people and the visits!

Heidi Roemer and therapy dog Moritz (Airedale)

To control a property, you should buy it

Underneath exaggerated complaints about a family making openings in an old stone wall in Oak Bay is the assumption that anyone has a right to control others’ property at no cost to herself.

Would she accept someone taking control of her property?

I challenge heritage hobbyists to get together and buy the properties they want to control, that’s the honest approach.

Keith Sketchley

E&N railway track is still in use

Re: “E&N railway tracks beyond redemption,” letter, Nov. 5.

The E&N line is still in heavy-duty service around Nanaimo. Superior Propane tanker cars are pulled from the freight terminal, near Port Place across the Chase River Bridge crossing, up north along Highway 19A.

It is hoped that those studying the full line will decide on the “West Coast Express” type, floor-level-access commuter cars for commuter service between Courtenay and Victoria. Nanaimo could be the coupling/decoupling point for short trains up north and longer trains on the southern portion with three cars arriving in Victoria — filled with rested passengers.

I used the Toronto GO train for 13 years. It helped my health because I did not have to drive into a blinding sun or during all types of weather.

George Weiss

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