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Tuesday, April 15, 2014: Climate change, civil rights, equal pay, bone marrow donations

Climate action

Last month’s UN climate change report, based on input from some 1,500 scientists from around the world, contains data about the alarming effect that human-caused carbon emissions are having upon our planet. The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the report “should jolt people into action.”

Here in Maine some people are taking action by working with a mid-Maine chapter (other Maine chapters may soon follow) of the national Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the main goal of which is to encourage Maine, and all of the U.S. if possible, to start charging a revenue-neutral carbon tax for carbon emissions.

Charging such a fee would be a logical extension of the longstanding custom of charging individuals and businesses for garbage collection and disposal. Some foreign countries and three U.S. states are already charging fees or taxes for carbon emissions, so Maine has examples to follow and learn from.

Any effort to curb carbon emissions will help us get one step closer to a sustainable world, an enviable reality we do not currently have but desperately need.

Laurie Sproul


Did anything change?

As our nation observed the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on April 10, I listened to a public radio conversation in which historians and journalists reflected on what happened that day.

I was surprised to hear that, on that fateful day, President Lyndon Johnson had lamented to his press secretary, Bill Moyers, that giving black Americans equal rights meant that Democrats “have lost the South for a generation.”

Indeed, the then-deeply Democratic South has since shifted strongly Republican.

Based on the conversation I heard, Johnson’s signature on the act sent racist southern Democrats searching for a party to cater to their bigoted views and support their commitment to the principles that formed the foundation of the Ku Klux Klan, namely, to control freed slaves after the Civil War.

What political party came to their rescue? The Republican Party.

I didn’t feel particularly good reaching that conclusion, so I consulted the research database at the University of Maine’s Fogler Library. There, a paper entitled, “Personality and attitude determinants of voting behavior,” found that people who voted for Republican presidential candidates “showed significantly more negative racial attitudes.” And those voters, with some possible exceptions, identify themselves as Republicans.

That study was done in 1972; you could hope attitudes have changed since. But other more recent studies support it. And when you know of Republican efforts underway right now nationwide to deny minorities the right to vote, you have to wonder whether anything has changed at all.

Mark Kelley


Cold War thinking

Lately there has been a revival of Cold War thinking in relation to climate change and global warming. At one time, proponents of destroying the Soviet Union became convinced that our side might have a minuscule advantage in missile “throw weight,” accuracy of warheads, megatonnage and kill ratios. The point was that in the event of a nuclear catastrophe, while our country might lose 30 or 40 million people, we would still win the war.

What we have learned from the latest Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s report is that there are ever-greater risks associated with rising global temperatures, now predicted with high confidence by scientists around the world. While those who deny the science are forever with us, a new kind of skepticism has arisen, which finds it acceptable that we may see cataclysmic events in certain environments around the world — coastlines, island chains, countries with a land mass at sea level — but that the loss of these areas, and the people who inhabit them, might be tolerable. We would survive based on what is euphemistically described as a cost-benefit analysis.

The inevitable question then becomes: Who will decide these questions?

Bevan Davies


Equal pay

The recent vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act in the U.S. Senate was not good for women who find themselves in the same jobs as men but don’t get paid equally. Our Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King voted not to give women equal pay.

Collins is Republican first, she has a job that pays equally for her years of service. King apparently doesn’t want women to get equal pay for equal work. He must still follow Republican footsteps.

Barbara Ouellette

St. Francis

Thanks for support

On behalf of Be The Match, I commend Rep. Stanley Short Jr. for his efforts to bring attention to the critical need for volunteer bone marrow donors.

Short’s April 9 OpEd called for support of LD 1600, a bill enacted by the Maine House of Representatives to encourage potential marrow donors to join the national registry.

As Short explained, the need is great. Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. And 70 percent do not have a donor in their family. They depend on Be The Match to find their lifesaving match.

Be The Match is the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on saving lives through marrow and cord blood transplantation. Every day, we work to improve access to transplants by spearheading efforts to remove barriers to treatment and meet the growing need among patients.

We have made incredible progress. Our national Be The Match Registry has expanded from just 10,000 potential donors in 1987, to more than 11 million volunteers today. Be The Match is the largest and most diverse registry worldwide, and we have facilitated more than 61,000 transplants.

Our growing community of donors, volunteers, health care professionals, researchers and financial supporters has been critical to this success. The leadership shown by elected officials has been equally vital to our lifesaving mission.

We appreciate Short’s passionate advocacy for increasing the number of potential volunteer marrow donors. We thank him and the people of Maine who have supported this lifesaving cause.

Chad Ramsey

Legislative director, Be The Match

Washington, D.C.

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