Letters to the editor

Plastics harming environment

To the Journal editor:

On the first Earth Day in 1970, hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrated peacefully to push for environmental reforms. Now, more than a billion people worldwide celebrate Earth Day.

But even with all that attention paid to the environment, we remain our own worst enemies when it comes to polluting our planet. Since 1970, global plastic production has increased more than 10-fold.

A recent study showed 22 million pounds of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes every year from the United States and Canada. Plastic pollution in Lake Michigan is approximately the equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized pools full of plastic bottles dumped into the lake every year, and plastic accounts for approximately 80 percent of the litter on Great Lakes shorelines.

Unfortunately, recycling isn’t the answer to this problem. The cheap disposable plastics that permeate our society — including styrofoam containers, single-use straws and film grocery bags — are not designed to be recycled. Need evidence? Only 4.4 percent of our plastic was recycled last year. Typically, this happens once, at best, before it permanently becomes trash.

That’s why we need to get rid of the disposable plastics that pollute our environment and replace them with durable, reusable materials. Plastic straws, plastic bags and styrofoam containers must be targeted because they are among the most common and hazardous forms of waste and because they are the most replaceable. Getting rid of them once and for all is the best way to protect our planet.

It can be done. For example, the European Union passed legislation to reduce single-use plastics ranging from cigarette filters to fishing nets, by 2021. In the United States, cities and states are looking to catch up. As of Earth Day 2019, 24 percent of the U.S. population lives in a city or state where some single-use plastic have been banned or restricted.

Take some time this Earth Day to work to reduce single-use plastics. Put those reusable grocery bags in your car so they’re ready to use. When you’re out to eat, order your drink and say, “no straw please.”

And be bold, bring your resusable containers from home for any leftovers if you go out to eat.

Nathan Murphy, state director

Environment Michigan

Wolves deserve protection

To the Journal editor:

The Trump Administration recently launched an action to remove Endangered Species Act protections for nearly every gray wolf in the lower 48 states. This action has specific consequences for Great Lakes wolves, where wolf recovery is ongoing, and the means for counting them and understanding their genetic diversity is flawed (“Miscounting Minnesota Wolves”).

Gray wolves of the lower 48 states were nearly extinct in 1960, and the reason was humankind’s widely-held fear of and hatred toward the species. President Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly called for the extermination of every wolf in America. He believed, as many still do, that wolves present a threat to humankind’s safety and enjoyment of the land. Removing protections will embolden those who embrace this way of thinking, potentially erasing decades of conservation efforts.

I was serving as a substitute teacher in a Marquette elementary school during the recent deer hunting season. The subject of hunting came up, and a child raised his fist in the air and exclaimed, “And we’re gonna gun down some wolves!” I reminded the children that killing wolves is illegal in Michigan.

I met a man in rural Virginia wearing a hat made from a wolf, featuring the entire head, with paws and tail hanging down. He informed me that it was a wolf from the Upper Peninsula. The people of Michigan have already made their voices known on the subject of wolf hunting, and most cannot stomach the notion of a wolf killed for the sake of a trophy or a hat.

Deer hunters often blame their lack of success on wolves, yet a recent study in the western Upper Peninsula shows that other predators take nearly as many deer as wolves do (Michigan Department of Natural Resources).

In the same study, starvation and vehicle collisions together were shown to take twice the number of deer as wolves. Big bad winters and big bad depleted habitat are the real threat to the U.P. deer herd.

Someday there may be too many wolves, and too many problematic human encounters with wolves. Someday wolf predation may account for a serious threat to the U.P. deer herd. Today is not that day.

Gray wolves of the lower 48 deserve protections afforded them by the ESA and will continue to deserve them, until the gravest danger they face is no longer biased, mythical thinking and flawed beliefs held about them by humans.



Saluting Public Radio

To the Journal editor:

Public Radio 90 deserves recognition for delivering on requests to air “Climate Connections,” a 5-minute daily look at solutions to climate change, produced by Yale. It airs at 3:25 p.m.

Much appreciation to the folks at Messiah Lutheran Church for hosting a forum on faith and climate change April 3. As people of faith or conscience we have an obligation to solve what will otherwise be untold suffering and death.

The Marquette Unitarian Universalist congregation has officially endorsed the bi-partisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

I encourage everyone in the faith community to take the steps to do the same for your church. Show U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) that climate change is a pro-life issue, and he needs to take a stand. Endorse the bill as a faith group at EnergyInnovationAct.org/endorse. To request a presentation for your congregation, ask Marquette@CitizensClimateLobby.org

If you are willing, please sign up to be alerted when this bill comes up for a vote at CitizensClimateLobby.org/text.




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