Lab's budget priorities are totally wrong

Looking at the breakdown of funds requested by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for 2014, I noticed a few interesting facts. Energy efficiency and renewable energy combined constitute less than 1 percent of the budget. Defense environmental cleanup is a minuscule tenth of 1 percent! On the other hand, nuclear weapons activities constitute a whopping 84 percent of the requested budget.

Are these priorities truly in line with most Americans' feelings? LLNL is a national lab that could be using science to bring about a better future. After six decades of poisoning the environment, can't we take a break and spend some time cleaning it up?

Matt Vinciguerra

Livermore

Evolution's proof nearly irrefutable

A letter writer in the May 9 Valley Times says he found 1,000 "distinguished scientists" who are skeptical of Darwin's theory of evolution.

I am a scientist. I don't care what other scientists are skeptical about. We REAL scientists go by EVIDENCE, not belief. And the evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution is overwhelming. Things that Darwin never knew existed confirm his theory. Like DNA, or bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics.

It will take more than 1,000 scientists, no matter how distinguished, who are "skeptical" about the theory of evolution to overturn it. They will have to produce huge amounts of evidence against it, not skepticism, because of the enormous weight of the evidence for the theory. They have not done so.

Incidentally, this link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Scientific_Dissent_From_Darwinism, has good information about the writer's list -- that it is sponsored by a fundamentalist Christian organization, and 75 percent on the list are not biologists. It turns out that the dissent from Darwinism is not all that scientific after all.

Istvan Simon, Ph.D.

Pleasanton professor of mathematics and computer science California State University, East Bay

Evolution is fact, not fantasy

On April 17 a letter writer mocked the theory of evolution as a "fantasy," declaring that the letter writer's friend, God, is laughing his head off.

I applaud the writer for having friends in "high" places. That is his business. His assertion, however, that evolution is a fantasy or joke is not his business -- it ignores science and reality. In short, the writer lives in a fantasy world.

If a crime is committed we may turn to God, but then we analyze DNA -- which cannot be explained without evolution! If surgery is performed, we may pray, but we try to prevent infections from bacteria having "evolved" to resist antibiotics -- again "evolution" is at work.

If scientists had invoked "God" whenever nature confronted them with a puzzle, we wouldn't have antibiotics, artificial hearts, MRIs, computers, GPS or weather satellites. We would not have science! Thanks to scientists like Darwin, the "theory of evolution" is no less "theoretical" than the "theory of tomorrow's sunrise."

Patrick Weidhaas

Dublin

Few biologists are dissenters from Darwin

In his May 9 letter, a writer offers evidence of a vigorous challenge to evolutionary theory with the signatures of perhaps 1,000 scientists skeptical that random mutation and natural selection can account for the complexity of life. A compelling counter to this appears on the website of the National Center for Science Education with support for evolutionary theory by more than 1,200 scientists whose names are all variations of the name Steve. That clearly translates into tens of thousands of scientists who support evolutionary theory.

Humphrey is grossly mistaken about challenges to evolutionary theory. Among biologists, evolution is considered a fact and evolutionary theory just explains how evolution works. Evolution penetrates every aspect of modern biology. It is not based solely on fossil finds but is clear in the anatomy and biochemistry of all living things. The controversies between biologists are the degree to which mutation, natural selection and more recently discovered influences drive evolution.

Scientists might agree the writer is correct that modern education is weak in teaching critical thinking. Part of critical thinking is acceptance of the weight of evidence, regardless of cherished beliefs. The notions offered on websites such as "Dissent from Darwin" have been roundly rejected by the vast majority of biologists; most were refuted decades ago. The weight of evidence for evolution grows larger daily and arguments against it weaker.

David Jensen

Pleasanton

There's Biblical support for when life starts

Chief Justice John Roberts, Jesus Christ wanted you, I and everyone to know when human life begins. After the Annunciation, Mary went to help the pregnant Elizabeth and a human interaction occurred when John (who would become John the Baptist) leapt in his mother's womb at the presence of Jesus.

There is universal knowledge of this account among the religious and those waiting to profess. From the "Declaration of Independence" are the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident -- that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

And the Constitution's 14th Amendment -- "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Finally, for those who would quibble that the Annunciation and Mary greeting Elizabeth were separate events, we should be appalled at their Littleness.

Please share this with the other justices -- thanks.

Richard D. Hickman

Pleasanton

Delta tunnels plan exposed as water-grab

Now the real truth as stated by Jerry Meral, Deputy Secretary at the California Natural Resources Agency and the driving force pushing the twin tunnels, comes out and says that the Delta won't be helped at all by this project that is costing the taxpayers $14 billion -- soon to be $18 billion, similar to the new super train you are currently fighting in your newspaper!

The super train won't even get near the Tri-Valley area except on our tax bill -- so why not train your guns on the super twin tunnels that will not protect or improve the Delta that is our only source of water? It's the old peripheral canal concept underground that we defeated in many elections over the last 50 years. The $14 billion should be allocated to saving the Delta and the ecosystem that supports the whole Bay Area with clean water and stops salt water incursion into our only supply of safe drinking water. Don't let Southern California interests rob our water rights!

Dick Kincaide

Dublin

Borenstein's work on his editorials solid

Daniel Borenstein continues to bring salient and underreported information on government shortcomings to the light of day. He provides the public with very valuable reporting.

Great job Daniel. Please keep it up. Editors, please feature Daniel more.

Brad Hirst

Pleasanton