Letters to the Editor

10/27 Your letters: Lynn Mitchell Kohn, Robin Ganzert, and Joseph Perrone

Remember Galileo

The list of things that “can't happen here” (the United States) gets shorter all the time. A brief news report in Tuesday’s paper revealed that the EPA “canceled the appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference Monday.” One recalls that the Inquisition forced Galileo to deny that the earth moves around the sun and Stalin persecuted scientists who dissented from the party line. Yet this has happened in a modern, developed, technologically advanced democratic society.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is now doing overtly and brazenly what he had done indirectly earlier by cutting funds for science and raising doubts about the scientific consensus on global warming – tactics that are useful to anyone who wants to roll back regulations.

There is much talk about the need for the administration to have a win or major achievement, ignoring the fact that it already has one in the “the most aggressive regulatory rollback in history,” according to an article in The Week magazine and Administrator Pruitt has been in the forefront of “the Great Deregulation,” moving to end any limits on the emission of green house gases, permitting power plants and coal mines to dump toxic waste into public waterways, and generally ending the safeguards that protected health and safety.

If reckless, short-sighted deregulation continues at the same headlong pace, future generations of Americans will look back at a world where they could take clean air and water for granted with a mixture of nostalgia and regret.

Lynn Mitchell Kohn

Durham

Adopt an older dog

Despite an uptick in animal shelter adoptions, each year an estimated 670,000 dogs are still euthanized at shelters across the country. That’s why every October my organization, American Humane, encourages animal lovers to consider adopting a dog from a local shelter or rescue group in honor of our nationally celebrated Adopt-a-Dog Month.

And don’t forget, if you can’t open your home permanently to a new best friend, there are many shelters that will work with individuals to foster animals temporarily. You get a pet on a short-term basis while the shelter finds the pet a forever home, and you keep a spot open at the shelter, which helps an animal that normally would not have had that opportunity. When the fostering is over, you can choose to foster a new animal or take a break – perfect for people with seasonally busy schedules.

With so many ways to help man’s best friend, it is the perfect time this October to help the animals in our communities – whether it’s by adopting a senior dog, fostering a puppy, or microchipping the pets you already have. This fall you can make a difference in the life of an animal, and perhaps gain a new best friend.

Dr. Robin Ganzert

President and CEO

American Humane

Choose safe costume

Accidents happen. That’s why it’s so essential to choose costumes labeled “flame retardant” or “fire resistant.”

“Flame retardant” refers to the ability to inhibit fire from spreading. Numerous substances can achieve this effect by disrupting combustion, creating a physical barrier, or releasing water or flame-choking gas. Even synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester have better fire-resisting capabilities than many natural fabrics.

Although federal law prohibits clothing made of rapid-burning fabrics, costumes can still ignite in as little as three seconds. Despite this very real risk, the use of flame retardants has received relentless criticism, with some actively campaigning against the safety feature in Halloween costumes.

Deliberately avoiding flame retardants when children are guaranteed to run around open flames while clad in dinosaur tails and oversized skirts is utterly irresponsible.

It’s important to remember that manufacturers don’t introduce chemicals haphazardly. Compounds like flame retardants were carefully developed and tested because society professed a need for them.

Instead of fearing chemistry this Halloween, appreciate the advancements science brings to holiday safety. And above all, check your children’s costumes for fire safety.

Dr. Joseph Perrone

Center for Accountability in Science

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