EDITOR’S DESK: ‘Planet in peril’? A reply to a senator

       Earth Day is a popular occasion on the Westside - as shown by the increased attendance numbers for the annual events at the Garden of the Gods, Rock Ledge Ranch and Springs Utilities Conservation Center. Our impression from attending these activities April 19 was that people were enjoying the day and the chance to learn about and give back to this grand orb we live on.
       Then came an Earth Day press release/statement from U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, whose district includes the Westside, that took the fun out of things (we're a "planet in peril," don't you know). At the same time, he failed (I thought) to justify his dire summations. For your reading pleasure (?), I'm reprinting below his statement, followed by the reply I sent him:
       Salazar: "Only a matter of years ago it was a challenge to convince our world of the significance of Earth Day. But now, due to overwhelming evidence that our planet is in peril, an ever-increasing number of Americans and people around the globe realize its relevance. It can no longer be denied that the impact of human beings on the planet is pronounced and in some cases detrimental. That is why it matters what each of us does, in our own way, to lessen our footprint on the natural environment."
       "Whether your family changes all of your household light bulbs to energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, you carpool to work or school, you use canvas bags instead of plastic bags to carry your groceries or you choose any of a myriad of other planet-friendly actions - it makes a positive difference. If you haven't yet started to do your part, I hope you choose to today - and for those who have - thank you and keep up the good work. Happy Earth Day."
       My reply: In your statement in the e-mail below, you refer to "overwhelming evidence that our planet is in peril" and charge that we humans hold blame in that. Such fright- and guilt-inducing language is a surprise to hear from a United States senator, especially in contrast to the care you have taken, for example, in calling for extensive studies and hearings before allowing drilling on the Roan Plateau. You do not make such a call here, nor have you presented the public with the "overwhelming evidence" you speak of. Certainly, there have been no public hearings at a local or regional level where qualified scientists or knowledgeable individuals have been welcomed to offer differing points of view so that people might judge for themselves.
       You also have not illustrated in detail to the public how a drastically increased use of renewable energy - at the expense of traditional, reliable and less expensive sources - will make us (to borrow a term your political party has been using of late) "energy independent."
       No reasonable person opposes such sensible steps as you list below, under the definition of "planet friendly." At the same time, I doubt that you would use the words, "planet in peril," if you thought that peril could be solved by changing light bulbs. I believe it is time that you were forthcoming about how much the "green" direction you support will cost the public, as a result of changing energy strategies on a national scale and possibly even charging a "carbon tax" (which we understand Congress is contemplating in regard to global warming). And happy Earth Day to you.

- K.J.