To the Bulletin:
On Dec. 2, my mother, Marie, died en route to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton. She was 81 years old. Hours after her death she was donating tissue from her body — even though she had never signed up as an organ or tissue donor. I was surprised this was possible and others I have told about it have reacted as I did: with shock and indignation.
A few hours after she died, New England Organ Bank called my stepfather, Vince — my mother’s husband of 38 years — on his home phone to ask his permission to take the tissue from her body. Vince, who had only hours earlier lost his beloved wife, was taken by surprise by New England Organ Bank’s telephone inquiry. After a few hours, he answered yes to the request — a decision that he has since said he regrets. He made it only because he was in an emotional and grief-stricken state when New England Organ Bank sprang the question on him.
To make matters worse, on Jan. 8, just over a month after Marie’s death, Vince received a letter from New England Organ Bank informing him that because Marie’s tissue received an initial negative assessment after testing, they couldn’t use it after all. It should not be legal practice to ask people out of the blue if they will give permission to an organ bank to take tissue — that very day — from the body of a newly dead loved one.
It is not ethical or fair practice to ask such a momentous decision of someone who has just been bereaved. Regulations and laws in New England ought to be amended so that such practices are not allowed to add to the grief of those who have lost a loved one.
Support needed for
To the Bulletin:
The proposed solar plant in Hatfield is under considerable criticism, reminding me of countless other solar and wind projects stalled by angry residents.
The effect on property values and views is understandable, but there is more at stake. The year 2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 by a full degree. The extraction and burning of coal and fossil fuels causes pollution, health problems and irreversible changes to landscapes. Nuclear plants such as the Vermont Yankee are under fire as well, as they have the potential to be very dangerous.
The consequences are no longer years away. Droughts and storms exacerbated by climate extremes are causing suffering all around the world. Vermont Yankee’s permit has already expired. The National Resources Defense Council links air pollutants to 30 percent of cases of childhood asthma.
This doesn’t just affect people in smoggy cities. Air quality is poor right here in the Pioneer Valley. The consequences of fossil fuels and nuclear dead zones last for hundreds or thousands of years.
The solution to these problems is renewable energy. It is not perfect, but we can’t afford to wait for a perfect option. I hope that communities will be more accepting of renewables in the short term, while continuing to look for even better, more efficient answers in the long term.
The Hoosac wind farm in Florida and Monroe, the proposed solar farm in South Amherst and Cape Wind are fantastic examples of projects that are necessary steps toward a renewable future. As the third most densely populated state, we cannot hope to find vast uninhabited swaths of land where no one would see a wind or solar farm. But with more people comes the need for more electricity. We need to make small dents wherever we can.
Amherst should lead
in climate change efforts
To the Bulletin:
The year 2012 was the warmest year on record, breaking the 1998 record by an entire degree, rising from roughly 55.3 degrees to 56 .3 degrees Fahrenheit. If temperature and climate change trends in the past decade have not been convincing enough, this will hopefully catch the world’s attention.
This shocking news about the world and environment we live in should not only be recognized on a global and national level, but a local level as well. Advocacy for climate change awareness must become a more significant part of our local community. We live in a town that is not afraid of vocalizing opinions on global and national issues. Now, as we face an issue concerning the future of the very environment we live in, is no time to be silent.
Promoting environmentally friendly life choices like recycling, composting, public transportation efficiency and locally grown foods will all help the issue.
Even though many Amherst residents already make these choices in their lives, this recent news about the shocking rise in temperature in 2012 and the consequences it yields should increase efforts where they have already been made in the community, and enforce them where they have not. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists project a potential increase in global temperature by 2 degrees Fahrenheit to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit come 2100, assuming we continue on the current path we are on.
With the temperature racing far ahead of us and our ability to stop it, we must, above all, make efforts to educate our local community about this environmental crisis. We must encourage the town of Amherst to contribute less to global greenhouse gas emissions, and set an example for other towns to follow. Global change starts with local change.
Gun control needn’t
To the Bulletin:
How many more times will communities across the nation be thrown into gut-wrenching grief, how many more times will parents have to bury their children, how many more massacres do there have to be until action is taken and until assault weapons can no longer be bought at Wal-Mart as part of a Black Friday special without a thorough background check, how many more Sandy Hooks, Auroras and Tucsons will there have to be until actual action on gun control is taken?
Civilian-model assault weapons such as the AR-15 which was used in both the Aurora theater and Sandy Hook shootings feed high-velocity 5.56 mm NATO cartridges into the firing chamber from their high-capacity 30-round assault magazines quickly and allow for fast and accurate semiautomatic firing, firing that can either be done to put on an impressive show at the firing range or cut down an entire classroom of first-graders in their morning meeting. Assault rifles in the hands of civilians are completely unnecessary. They are not necessary for either hunting or home defense. To all those who claim otherwise, notice that you live in the United States of America, not the tribal territories of Afghanistan. A hunting rifle, shotgun or handgun is more than sufficient.
The Second Amendment gives us the right to bear arms, but contrary to what the gun-crazed civilian soldiers of the NRA may say, it is possible to introduce comprehensive and effective gun control regulations without chucking the Second Amendment. Simply re-enact the assault weapons ban and create a system of thorough background checks for gun buyers as well as controlling the selling of weapons at open-ended gun shows. These solutions cause little harm and could potentially prevent so much. Before mass shootings become a WHEN as opposed to an IF, before more parents are forced to bury their children and we are forced to endure another horrific tragedy, it is imperative that we as a nation act now.