Legislators must defend environment

Last year, we witnessed an increase in carbon dioxide at a rate much faster than projected by climate scientists in their worst-case scenarios.

Despite our progress in conservation and cleaner energy under President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown, we are still anticipating a global rise in temperature by 2.5 to 4.5 degrees over the next several decades. These efforts have been met with strong opposition by big oil, who have worked to suspend 2006's Global Warming Solutions Act by lobbying for Proposition 23, recruited former state Sen. Michael Rubio to work for Chevron, and brought lawsuits to the courts.

After all the progress we have made, it is vital that our legislators defend these achievements against opposition from big oil, and we will stand by those who do.

Audrey Gange

Tracy

Story about teacher was an inspiration

I want to compliment the paper on the wonderful article on Cristina Igoa, a teacher at Tyrrell Elementary School in Hayward. I'd like to read more stories about real people.

Congratulations to her and her students. I hope a lot of people read such an inspiring story.

Clara Minor

Hayward

We must take action against gun violence


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After laying a memorial bouquet at the site of the 2011 shooting that irrevocably changed her life, Gabrielle Giffords sent this message to her former colleagues in Congress, "Be bold. Be courageous. Please support background checks."

I would go even further. As a nation, we need to pass comprehensive gun legislation that not only includes background checks for all gun purchases, but also bans on high-capacity ammunition magazines and the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons, and halt the illegal trafficking of weapons, particularly across the southern border into Mexico.

I hope that Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi will lead efforts in Washington to transform platitudes and political posturing into concrete action to finally end senseless gun violence in this country.

Aileen Ford

San Francisco

Great alternatives to eating animals

Food safety officials in the United Kingdom, France and Sweden found traces of horse meat in ground beef sold across Europe. Massive recalls and lawsuits are ensuing.

Can it happen here? Horse slaughter for human consumption was banned in the U.S. between 2007 and 2011. But now, a New Mexico slaughterhouse is getting approved by U.S. authorities to slaughter horses for human consumption, and a Philadelphia restaurant has already announced plans to serve horse meat.

I marvel at our hypocrisy of rejecting the notion of horse or dog meat on our dinner plates, while condemning cows, pigs and chickens to the same fate. Obviously, we have established special relationships with horses and dogs as our companions, protectors and sports protagonists, rather than as food.

But where is the ethical and logical distinction, given that all these animals are endowed by individuality, sentience, and an ability to experience the same feelings of joy, affection, sadness and fear that we do?

Fortunately, our health food industry has spared us from having to choose which animals to pet and which ones to eat. Their delicious soy and grain-based meat alternatives are available in every supermarket.

Samuel Bentino

Oakland

Reforming 401(k) proposal got an 'F'

A recent column by Steve Butler dissected a proposal by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to reform 401(k) pension plans and gave it an "F."

While I agree with Butler's evaluation, I must point out that this proposal has all the same ingredients as the popular Social Security program: It forces you to make contributions that you can only withdraw at a certain age in the form of an annuity, where low-income recipients receive a greater percentage relative to their contribution than higher income individuals.

So, if you like one, shouldn't you also like the other?

If Social Security were an insurance model, rather than a retirement account, it could fulfill its original purpose of a safety net without running out of funds in 2033.

In exchange for lower premiums, policy holders would collect only for demonstrated needs. That would be a fair way of implementing a means test, as opposed to asking those who contributed the most to essentially forfeit their contributions.

Erich P. Kellner

Walnut Creek