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Everybody's Column

>A slow-growing population is exactly what planet needs

Froma Harrop's Dec. 26 column titled "Slow-growing population? Great!" was refreshing. It's important to reflect on why continued population growth is not a good idea. As she stated, politicians and governments want more people for reasons that are in their best interests, not society's. Once again, our elected leaders are not thinking ahead or leading in ways that are far-sighted for the good of the country and the planet.

The earth's resources are not going to support continued population growth forever. The Population Institute noted a sustained upward trend in commodities prices -- goods such as metals, oil, wheat and cotton. This is a warning sign. Even now, there is not enough food and water to support large areas of the world's population. It is naive to assume that we in the United States are immune to global population pressures, as misery elsewhere forces people to migrate to "richer" areas, putting more pressure on them.

If we don't manage our population, nature will manage it for us, in the form of widespread famine, new strains of diseases that will spread rapidly in a crowded world, wars fought over land and resources, and climate change, due in large part to human activity.

With the pope still in the dark ages regarding birth control, and the disturbing new trend toward suspicion of science and anything that is "too intellectual," there is much to worry about. Scientists are able to grasp the big picture and how it impacts us, free of the prejudices of politics and religion, yet they are ignored, even vilified.

Looking ahead, it's hard to see anything good coming out of continuing to add 83 million new souls a year to this planet. Maybe we will be the first species to orchestrate its own extinction.

Dawn Northwood

Buffalo

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>There is still no safe way to dispose of nuclear waste

I read The News editorial, "Time to go nuclear," with dismay. The issue is not accidents, it is what to do with the waste. We are still waiting for poorly contained waste to find its way into the Columbia River out West. Time is running out and no solution is in sight.

Yes, the French have nuclear power, which they will tell you is very expensive. And they have not yet found a way to dispose of the waste. Where was The News this summer when Germans were protesting the French nuclear waste shipped by the trainload to rural Germany?

I'm wondering just how much nuclear waste our Navy dumped in the ocean before the hazards were known or acknowledged? Our congressman, Chris Lee, has no answer to the nuclear waste problem and the editorial doesn't even bother to mention it.

Moya Smith

Williamsville

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>Civil service employees work hard for their pay

For 36 years, I worked at the Central Library in downtown Buffalo. I realize that, as a civil service employee, the common assumption is that, with all my marvelous benefits -- vacation, sick days and annual pension from the state of New York -- I wasted a lot of taxpayers' money. Some would no doubt say that if I had worked for a business, I would have earned my keep. That's the common prejudice. I read these biased remarks every week in Everybody's Column, and I'm sick of it.

Let me tell you about a few businesses I tried to contact on Dec. 23. One was my health insurer. It turns out that the office was closed "to celebrate the Christmas holiday." But it was not Christmas. I got the same response from the office of a health provider. It was closed, too, "for the holiday," which was two days away. I hope none of the patients had an emergency over the holiday weekend. I know what happens when people go to the ER on a Saturday or Sunday.

In all my years as a civil servant, I never automatically got extra days off around Christmas or any other holiday. Nor did any of my colleagues. Yes, we could ask for vacation days around holidays, but if those days were inconvenient for the running of the institution, they were denied.

I can't speak for all state and county workers, but I'm sure most would agree that we worked hard for our less-than-grand salaries and modest pensions. Can business employees say the same? Maybe some, but apparently not those in health field.

Gay Baines

East Aurora

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>Practice common sense when walking in winter

Every winter I see pedestrians walking on the side of the road, putting themselves at risk of being hit by a car. This is a dangerous practice in the winter, when cars may slide on snowy or icy roads and inadvertently plow directly into the pedestrian. I often see walkers with their back to oncoming traffic, rather than crossing over to the other side of the road and facing traffic as is recommended.

To make matters worse, one might even have a hooded jacket, with the hood up. This person does not allow himself any opportunity to get out of the way of a sliding vehicle. I have even seen pedestrians wearing white coats, with their hood up, in heavy snow, making them very difficult to see by motorists until the last minute. If you do have to walk in the winter and a cleared sidewalk is not available, practice common sense, before you become a statistic.

Katherine Brennan

West Seneca

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>Nowak was a champion of smoking disclosure law

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition joins in congratulating Judge Henry J. Nowak on his appointment to State Supreme Court. Nowak has been an incredible asset to the City of Buffalo Housing Court and a tobacco-free advocate.

A recent News story called Nowak creative with problem-solving skills and genuinely caring about the well being of Buffalo's neighborhoods. We would like to add that it was Nowak's sense of innovation and fair play that led him to become a champion of the city's Landlord Smoking Disclosure Law. After determining the law would be an effective addition to help tenants and landlords, he sought out Council Member Bonnie Russell to lead it through the Common Council and the mayor's office.

The disclosure law, the first of its kind in New York State, requires that rental lease agreements disclose whether smoking is prohibited or allowed within rental units and common areas. Now tenants are able to make informed decisions before they sign a lease. Smokers know whether the behavior is permitted and non-smokers have the opportunity to decline living in a home where they would be routinely exposed to secondhand smoke. Landlords know it is within their rights to limit smoking in their properties and at the same time can lower their risks for fires and liability.

We applaud Nowak for his dedication and hard work.

Annamaria Masucci

Assistant Director

Erie Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

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