Letters to the Editor: Environmental groups are portrayed incorrectly

Editor:

Logan Goh’s article (“”Humans cause ecological harm to Earth,”” Nov. 5) amazed me. Despite Goh’s numerous and apparent concerns for the welfare of humanity, he failed to address the consequences of utter ignorance. Far worse than the alleged detriment of environmentalism, in my opinion, is the prospect of being bullied by a horde of unsubstantiated generalizations.

Goh’s article claimed that most environmentalists seek “”to bring Earth closer to the time before human civilization spread across the globe,”” demonstrating a profound lack of understanding of the current environmental movement. He asserts that environmentalists are fearmongers who are trying wildly to oppose any and all scientific and technological advancement. He even goes so far as to claim that environmentalists doomed the space program.

To the contrary, it is often environmental groups who push the hardest for the implementation of new technologies. Almost all of the major national environmental groups’ agendas include things such as clean, renewable energy sources, solar panels, improved wind power generators and more efficient automobile engine technologies.

I had the opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C. this summer. During a number of Senate and House committee hearings, environmentalists invariably argued for newer, cleaner and safer technologies, while others claimed these solutions would be either too expensive or too difficult to carry out.

It is true that environmental groups do not embrace all new advances with open arms. Genetically engineered crops, one example the author uses, have been shown through scientific study to pose serious health risks — in fact, the British Medical Association has called for an indefinite moratorium on genetically engineered foods. These crops usually require the increased use of pesticides and can sometimes cause life-threatening allergies in people who were previously able to eat certain foods.

Yet most environmental groups are not calling for these foods to be removed from the market. They are merely pushing for the same testing and labeling that the Food and Drug Administration requires of every other novel substance introduced into our diets.

The problem with generalizations is that, when pressed, the specifics fall apart. Goh may be surprised to find out that our interest in saving the forests doesn’t necessarily mean we want to live in the trees.

— Matthew McFeeley

Revelle College senior

Chair, UCSD CalPIRG

Editor:

As Emily Vizzo notes in her article (“”No need to run,”” Nov. 13), this September, Gov. Gray Davis signed into law AB 521, “”The Student Financial Responsibility Act,”” designed to provide students in higher education with relief from the escalating crunch of credit card debt.

Credit in the hands of a young consumer who is uneducated about the personal responsibility associated with credit can lead to financial disaster. This is a growing and very serious problem with younger, college-age consumers.

The act can help stop credit card abuse before financial ruin is inevitable. Among other things, the new law calls on California’s three public higher education systems (the University of California, the State College system and community colleges), as well as private and independent colleges, to regulate the marketing practices used on campus by credit card companies.

More important, due to its long-term positive impact, the new law requires that credit card and debt education and counseling sessions become a regular part of campus orientation of new students.

Working for Springboard (www.credit.org), an accredited, nonprofit consumer credit counseling agency, I know that real-world, financial education is a must for students. Without it, students can find themselves overwhelmed with not only credit card debt, but student loan debt as well.

Some colleges and universities have some credit counseling in place, but it is imperative that colleges and universities across the state respond quickly to the new law in an effort to provide effective financial literacy education and counseling programs. While credit cards are a fantastic way for students to establish a credit history, many students think that they have all the money in the world to buy pizza, clothes, CDs and spring break trips with their new cards.

Credit counseling organizations such as Springboard stand ready to help students who are in over their heads in credit card debt or just want to learn more about budgeting and how to use credit cards wisely. Through better education in personal finance, students will not only learn how to use credit cards wisely, but also establish a positive credit reputation that will follow them into the future.

— Dianne Wilkman

President and CEO, Springboard

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