Thanks should go to the Flyer for publishing the excellent story about the exploration of Arkansas' Big Island wilderness by John Ruskey and his crew ("River Quest," May 9th issue). Ruskey and his co-workers, Chris Staudinger and Mark Peoples, have been spreading awareness and understanding (and love) of the Mid-South's greatest natural wonder — the Mississippi River — for many years now. They have helped spread that knowledge to a generation of young people via the "Mighty Quapaws" training program and through their efforts to engage classrooms of schoolchildren in their adventures.
I wish more people in the Mid-South would get out on the river and take in its majesty and beauty. We've got the natural equivalent of the Grand Canyon at our doorstep, but most Mid-Southerners never get to experience it.
The entire LGBTQ community owes a huge debt to the loonies of Westboro Baptist Church ("Westboro Baptist Brings Their Craziness to Graceland," memphisflyer.com). They have done more to advance the cause of gay rights in America than any other person or group. When such blatant insanity is revealed to the public, it can't help but make people see how ludicrous bigotry really is.
Scientists and Climate Change
A review of 12,000 papers on climate change, in the May 15th issue of "Environmental Research Letters," found that 97 percent of scientists attribute climate change to human activity. Although we're unlikely to reverse climate change, we can mitigate its effects by reducing our driving, energy use, and meat consumption.
Yes, meat consumption. A 2006 U.N. report estimated that meat consumption accounts for 18 percent of man-made greenhouse gases. A 2009 article in the respected World Watch magazine suggested that it may be closer to 50 percent.
Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, is generated by burning forests to create animal pastures and by combustion of fossil fuels to confine, feed, transport, and slaughter animals. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal-waste cesspools, respectively.
Each of us has the power to reduce the devastating effects of climate change every time we eat. Our local supermarket offers a rich variety of soy-based lunch meats, hotdogs, veggie burgers, and soy and nut-based dairy products, as well as an ample selection of vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts.
I've been a Flyer reader for many years. I was touched by Bruce VanWyngarden's well-written tribute to Sid Selvidge (Editor's Note, May 9th issue). More people need to feel about others and express it as Bruce did for Sid. We would be better off.
Keep up the good work. I enjoy the Flyer and its writing.
During Franklin Roosevelt's 12-year tenure as president, the Senate used the filibuster a total of six times, including twice in the 1930s to block anti-lynching legislation. In the past six years, the Republican minority has used the filibuster to block or stall legislation, progress or presidential nominees more than 170 times. This is how extreme the Republicans have become.
Remember the Troops
May 18th was Armed Forces Day, and we should have all taken a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made, on our behalf, by our troops.
Next, we should reach out and demonstrate our thanks personally or through a troop-support organization such as the Blue Star Mothers of America (members are mothers with sons and daughters serving in the military). You can donate in-kind goods for care packages or meet the moms and ask what they need to continue the organization's support of America's military and veterans and the families of our fallen heroes.
You may be surprised. Some groups may ask for postage money to ship care packages to troops around the world; others may just ask you to spread the word — that America's military needs to be supported by one and all.
President, Blue Star Mothers of America
Walnut Creek, California