Warming is an urgent problem

Seth Borenstein's fine article in the March 23 Times, "Big climate report: Warming is big risk for people," helps to amplify the alarm that is growing louder with each report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As Borenstein writes, the new report by climate experts around the world makes it clear that the impacts of global warming on our lives are no longer distant threats. Higher temperatures and changes in precipitation, driven by climate change, are affecting us already. And we may be faced with a future of higher food prices, water shortages and economic downturns.

Weather extremes such as droughts, made more likely by global warming, will become a rule rather than an exception in the coming years. The report is designed to alert world leaders about the urgency of the problem, but we should all be listening as well.

The choices we make today about reducing our emissions of heat-trapping gases will affect the magnitudes of climate disruption that our generation imposes on generations to come.

Adrienne Alvord

Berkeley

Alvord is the director of California and Western States Union of Concerned Scientists.

Victimization of the homeless


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A recent, excellent guest commentary in the Times by Diane Baker clearly stated the gross neglect and victimization of the mentally ill homeless population -- a very high percentage of said population.

It is hard enough getting through day-to-day life with what is regarded as a healthy or normal mind. I can't imagine trying to assess right from wrong or staying safe, living with a mind that plays tricks on me, often drastically or dramatically altering the perception of reality.

Former Gov. Ronald Reagan closed some budget shortfalls with what has become known as compassionate conservatism -- only I can't find the compassion. Defenseless people were thrust into impossible dynamics beyond their every control. And has this really saved any money? Studies show great social costs to this ill-advised treatment of all homeless -- especially the mentally ill.

I thank Baker for her clear observation of the crime we all have allowed to be perpetrated on our neediest brothers and sisters.

The Rev. Gary L. Wilson

Berkeley

'Invasions' not comparable

I am referring to the March 31 column in the Times by Charles Krauthammer, "Obama vs. Putin: So far, it has been a big mismatch." Krauthammer really needs something more substantial to bluster about.

Those with long memories rightly recall Soviet invasions to suppress freedom in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But to equate those to the Crimean incident -- in which, as Vladimir Putin sarcastically remarked, the "invading" forces suffered not so much as a sprained ankle -- is as disrespectful of the memory of those past events as it is to the people of Crimea, who, Kalashnikovs notwithstanding, gave separation what the BBC called "a genuine overwhelming yes."

In fact, very little has changed. Anyone who wishes to understand the Russian position can find it in the excellent speech by Putin, unrecognizable in Krauthammer's account (it is at eng.kremlin.ru/transcripts/6889). Putin's historical references help us appreciate that the "loss" of Ukraine to the West is at least as hurtful to Putin as for President Obama would be the secession of Northern California -- which by the way, is long overdue.

Mike Bloxham

Kensington

Windows XP doomsday

Where is the outrage that Microsoft is abandoning XP and leaving it vulnerable to malware attacks?

According to Brandon Bailey's recent article in the Times, NetMarketShare estimates that XP powers nearly 30 percent of all personal computers worldwide, and others estimate 200 million or more XP users.

Locally, many senior centers and libraries make computers using XP available to the public. Apparently, the best option is to buy a new computer (though files will be difficult or impossible to transfer).

Imagine the expense to consumers, the profits Microsoft will make and the electronic waste that will be generated. If Microsoft would charge a nominal amount for support, I would be willing to pay.

Patricia Schwarz

El Cerrito

Upgrade standards

Enough already with these hysterical stories about fracked oil coming through the Bay Area in rail tanker cars.

Am I the only one who sees trains of tank cars going through Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond every day? The dozens, if not hundreds, of tank cars stored in sidings? What do you think is in these, olive oil? They're full of ethanol, diesel and gasoline, which is far more flammable and explosive than any crude oil.

Let's just be honest here, it's all about fracking and the delusion that if we don't allow fracked oil in California it's going to stop.

Furthermore, shipping oil (or any cargo) by rail is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railroad Administration and interstate commerce laws, no matter how many self-important local politicians think otherwise, so all the chest thumping and posturing is just a waste of time.

The reasonable thing to do is get our representatives in Washington to upgrade the standards for tank cars to be able to survive a derailment.

Dean Lekas

Oakland

SB 1381 would benefit all

GMO labeling in California has been anticipated by millions since 2012, when Proposition 37 failed to pass.

SB 1381, introduced by State Sen. Noreen Evans, is the most important effort since Prop. 37. It would give consumers the right to know what they and their families eat.

For those involved in Prop. 37, we should remember that Asian and Latino communities voted 61 percent in support, versus 42 percent in support from white communities.

In our estimation, Prop. 37 failed among white voters because of the multimillion dollar TV campaign (in English) to defeat it. The efforts were funded by the biotech industry. On the other hand, the educational campaigns in Spanish encouraged Latino communities to vote "yes" on Prop. 37.

This time, there is no confusion; SB 1381 is a clearer version of Prop. 37.

Regardless of the multiple health, environmental and ethical implications of GMOs, SB 1381 gives all of us the opportunity to decide what we want to buy and eat.

SB 1381 is a bill every legislator in California must support if they really care about their voters and their own families.

Miguel Robles

San Francisco

Robles is a co-founder and director of Biosafety Alliance, an advocacy group active in the entire West Coast of California.