My name is Ella Nielsen, 7th grade student at Kirby School, writing to address global warming, and how it affects us. 84 percent of the USA’s greenhouse gases are created through the production of energy, and 40% of that energy is used to make electricity. The building up of the greenhouse gases created through this process can affect the climate, and result in global warming. This can affect sea level, the severity and frequency of natural disasters, as well as harm life on this planet. Additionally, climate change can cause a huge increase in expenses. For example, the amount people spend on heating and cooling could increase by 10 percent. The EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) predicts that with a “6.3 to 9°F temperature increase, climate change could increase the need for additional electric generating capacity by roughly 10-20% by 2050. [Which could] require hundreds of billions of dollars in additional investment.” Most of our energy comes from coal, petroleum, and natural gases, all of which have a negative effect on the environment. Even though over the last 14 years the usage of coal has gone down by 50%, natural gases have mostly made up for that loss, by increasing their production by 200% while Renewable resources still account for only around 17.5% of the US’s energy.

Because so much of the US’s energy goes to making electricity, if we can reduce our demand for electricity we can make a huge impact on the environment in quite a few ways. For example, according to the National Park Service, “if every person in the US switched one of the fluorescent bulbs in their house to an energy saving bulb, we could reduce greenhouse gases by 90 billion pounds over the life of the bulbs, which is the same as taking 6.3 million cars off the road.” Some other ways to conserve energy in your household and also save money, include unplugging idle electronics like microwaves, TV’s, and printers, as even when they are turned off they use standby power, and simply turning off lights. These small actions can save huge amounts of energy and money as well as the environment. If you want to make an even bigger difference, you may consider requesting that PG&E use more renewable resources for your share of power. For instance, if you live along the central coast you may want to consider Monterey Bay Community Power, a company who produces their power only from renewable sources. Saving the environment can be easy if everyone does their part.

Ella Nielson, Felton

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FOR THE GRADS!

Have you seen the signs popping up in people's yards for their 2020 SVHS seniors? As a mom of a senior at SVHS, I am sending out thanks to all the senior parents who helped in donating, organizing, ordering, responding to the e-mails, and delivering all the congratulation signs to our beloved 2020 seniors. It was all parent funded with help from the SVHS Parent and Falcon Club officers coordinating the efforts. (Great graphics by sophomore Brayden Reynolds too.) This year is not how the seniors envisioned their last year to be, but they are loved and supported. Best wishes to all of them. Stay healthy out there everyone.

Barbara Lansdowne, Scotts Valley

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BRIGHT SPOT

I am married to a Starbucks barista. He left his profitable tech job and moved to Santa Cruz to pursue some long lost hobbies and a lifestyle that was completely different from the Silicon Valley world in which he was enmeshed. He has been working for Starbucks for 12 years now, declining any managerial post, but enjoying the aspect of a community coffee shop and offering hospitality and friendship as well as the coffee.  

Starbucks has now had to close its stores—hopefully temporarily—due to the coronavirus crisis.

I was so impressed to find out that in this time of crisis, anxiety, instability, that the company offered its employees, whom they call partners, ongoing health benefits. As well, the choice to continue work with a $3 raise, or stay at home with ongoing pay, called disaster relief. They are also offering a free drink and food item daily for the employee and their family. This continues for a month, thus far. The manager personally called my husband at home to discuss which option would be best-suited to his needs, and the company’s Benefit Centre thanked him for his service, and was very helpful.

Really, in this time of uncertainty, to receive this sort of grace from a corporation feels extraordinary—and, unfortunately, unusual. I am so impressed by this humane behavior, what a bright spot in a gloomy landscape.

Linda Joshua, RNNP | Santa Cruz

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The regular columns by Pastors Joe Carlson and Steve Watkins espouse their Christian views of the world.  They are, of course, free to believe whatever they want.  However, I disagree with their positions that Christianity is the only true path, which I find to be intolerant of non-Christians (and, therefore, unChristian).  For example, in his January 10 column, Mr. Carlson said, “Without God there is no ultimate truth or meaning, no beauty or goodness, no right or wrong.  A world without God is an ugly, grim, and godforsaken world, one without hope, or joy, or any reason to pursue kindness or extend grace.”  In Mr. Watkins’ April 10 column, he says “[p]eace only ever comes from knowing Him, trusting Him and His purposes, and communing with Him in prayer, in His Word . . ..”

There are billions of people in the world, and many right here in this valley, who find truth, meaning, beauty, goodness, right, wrong, and peace without the help of the pastors’ God or, indeed, any god.  We find the world to be a beautiful place, full of hope, joy, and reasons to pursue kindness – not to mention love – in our interactions with other people, our families, our friends, and other members of our community.  We believe that it is our duty to leave the world a better place than we found it and to be kind to others.  We find joy and beauty in the astonishing natural environment that surrounds us – the trees, the creeks, the rivers, the clouds, the mist, the sun, the stars, the sky – which we believe came into being by natural, not divine, means.  I find it sad and a bit scary that the pastors think that only those who believe in their God can experience these things.

Peter Gelblum

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