The last month in Southern Oregon reminds us of the danger of wildfires. Some of us see homes and livelihoods jeopardized, while others suffer health risks from the smoke.
We know the immediate culprit causing many of the fires that now consume our forests, posing threats to us all, was lightning. But it is not legitimate to call these "natural disasters."
When drivers who insist on driving at high speeds, or driving while drinking, collide with a tree, we might feel sympathy — but we would probably not call the outcome a complete accident as much as the product of carelessness.
Since the industrial revolution, humans have been carelessly pumping into our atmosphere pollutants that trap heat. This has been known for over a century. Since the 1970s, the global temperature has increased some 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
As droughts and heat waves in the American West increased, the fire season has expanded by 21/2 months.
When we look for the cause of these wildfires, we must look within.
If we continue our polluting ways, the frequency, duration and intensity of these wildfires will only increase.
What more warning do we need? Are we ready to act? — Kathy Conway, Jacksonville, co-facilitator Southern Oregon Climate Action Now
I read a letter to the editor on Aug. 2 that alluded to a snake oil salesman who lived in the White House. I assume the salesmen were of the Bush/Cheney type.
I say this because I remember being sold the following snakes:
1) An Iraq war sold to me based on lies and deceptions.
2) An Afghanistan war sold to me as the way to get to bin Laden, when in fact he was in their sights and they let him go.
3) Two wars sold to me that were not funded by Congress because they would only last a few months.
4) A deregulated free market economy that would be good for housing and our economy that resulted in the biggest recession in recent record. — Ronald Steffani, Ashland
Your report on a volunteer swim coach arrested for rape and assault (Mail Tribune Aug. 1) is pretty awful journalism. The headline and the first few paragraphs give the impression the a violent rape occurred.
By the end of the story I am guessing that the charge was consensual sex that was criminal because the girl was under the age of consent. (I have to guess because the reporter doesn't tell me).
And what is this "secret agency" that reported the crime in the "child abuse format"?
Come on! I understand that there is special concern about child abuse, but the name of a public agency is secret?
And, predictably, the judge gave a moral lecture along with bail. Is the presumption of innocence gone in this country? — Michael Sanford, Ashland
The Mail Tribune and my cup of tea have begun my mornings daily since 1968. This is my first letter to you because your front page article on "The Complex Issue" became a personal one for me.
Would the downtown apartment project on Central Avenue block out the present parking lot during the construction, which could take four to five years? Where would the RCC students and downtown patrons park during that period?
When completed, how many apartments would there be? Where would the residents park then?
Wouldn't they have the rights to the lower-level parking? Sounds to me that it's the Lithia building parking problem all over again! Don't waste MURA's money just because it's there! — Marcia Brown, Central Point
What an incredible community we live in here in the Rogue Valley! Volunteer opportunities abound, and there are so many choices for retired, the school-aged (looking to meet requirements for community service hours), and just any who like "giving back."
I have recently learned from the OSF website that due to an abundance of volunteers, they are currently not taking new applications. I applaud their ability to create an atmosphere where many choose to spend their free time in volunteering.
Fear not, all you still looking for that place where you might feel needed, wanted and oh, so appreciated! The Hospice Unique Boutique in Ashland, a resale shop relying on volunteers to make the dreams of Southern Oregon Friends of Hospice (the nonprofit who runs the resale shop) come true, needs you!
For four years, we have given money to all four hospices in the Rogue Valley, and to several other nonprofit organizations whose missions range from education about end-of-life choices to assuring grief counseling after a loss.
We could not have done this without our volunteers! Give us a call at 541-488-7805 and we'll tell you more. We need you! — Trudy Duncan, Ashland
In this 21st century, an astonishing number of people invoke the supernatural — a throwback to primitive superstition. Fear in a hostile environment urged prehistoric humans to summon imaginary entities for aid.
In an early stage of brain development, these human ancestors lacked sufficient reasoning ability to understand the natural world. But contemporary humans, with a highly evolved brain and the benefit of cumulative factual knowledge, can understand the natural evolutionary process — unless emotional attachment to the Adam and Eve allegory inhibits such understanding.
This fable, symbolic of the human condition, has been twisted into various theological fabrications, including "divine" creation. Of course, it takes courage to relinquish cherished myths to advance intellectually.
Those who imbue everything with supernatural meaning ignore centuries of painstaking efforts to advance knowledge. And they demean those who, despite fierce opposition, pursued their unorthodox ideas to fruition, laying groundwork for future advancements.
This century calls for a (1) greater effort to translate scientific insights into solutions to world problems, chiefly ecological destruction, and (2) rejection of supernaturalism — the default assumption for unknown natural explanations, which emerge as science discovers causal relationships.
In Albert Einstein's words, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." — Marie Arvette, Medford
I wanted to thank those of you who acted on my request to call Congress and demand a vote to defund Obamacare.
On May 26, this newspaper published my letter titled "Is Walden a coward?" where I made that request.
Your actions after that letter appeared, paired with a push on Twitter and my personal appeals to national talk host friends, have changed the narrative in Congress from a meaningless repeal effort on Obamacare to a substantive defunding movement.
I am so proud of you all; it all started right here. See what happens when you put forth a little effort.
Where does Greg Walden stand on this issue? Call him and ask.
God Bless the USA! — Roger Fredinburg, Central Point