As I finished reading last week's "After the Fire" testimonials from Vermonters, I shook my head in disbelief. Not one mention of the positive affect the pandemic has had on the environment? Disappointing. We are supposed to be the Green Mountain State, and that green isn't all about money. The envisioning of our collective post-pandemic futures needs to include the kind of green we all depend on for life: the environment.
The pausing of the airline industry, people working from home instead of commuting, even the halting of cruise trips has drastically reduced CO2 emissions. At a time when the climate crisis is the No. 1 existential threat to human, animal and plant life, I'd hope that we might envision a future less dependent on fossil fuels or one in which we finally eliminate the use of dirty energy altogether. Coal plants are being shuttered. The price of oil is way down.
Environmentalists have been shouting from the tops of the trees since the 1970s that we need to reduce consumption in order for the next seven generations to have a livable planet. We've been told repeatedly that we are wishing for a pie in the sky. Along comes the coronavirus and shows us that CO2 emissions can, in fact, be drastically reduced and quite rapidly. It is my fervent wish that we take this opportunity to dismantle harmful industries and focus on building green infrastructure. As individuals, please consider pausing before taking that next airline trip and ask: Is this really essential?
It would have been more helpful to include a photo of Veratrum viride as well as, or instead of, Allium tricoccum in [Bite Club: "Sharp Increase in Reported Poisonings From Ramp Lookalike," May 15]. It's a bit of a stretch to say they are "lookalikes" at any stage of the plant's life cycle.
I imagine your legal team advised against possibly providing factual information that people could misinterpret, leading to lawsuits, and it was safer just to post a picture of some ramps and say: "Experts say don't eat these."
But posting the two photos might have also given the public some indication of the relative mental caliber of the people who have poisoned themselves with false hellebore. The two plants' only similarity is they have attractive bright green leaves. The similarities end there, however.
As to the article's closing quote, "...really, just don't do it," does Dr. Karen Simone of the Northern New England Poison Center mean people should not eat ramps? Not eat things they can't identify? It seems like you're just trying to scare people. You could be giving some of us a much-needed laugh, instead.
Editor's note: See a version of the story on page 48; we've included a photo of false hellebore.
Make Masks Mandatory
[Re Off Message: "Vermonters are Watching Their Neighbors — and Reporting Them," May 6]: Vermont has done a great job minimizing infections, and face masks have been a big cause of this. But I continue to see people in public spaces without a mask. Are these people dumb, insensitive to other people's health or possibly suicidal? These people should really seek out an educated therapist. It would be so sad to have our good standing be ruined by a stupid fool. Mask up or stay home, please.
Noise and Tobacco
After reading Seven Days' coverage of COVID-19, and Kevin McCallum's article on the F-35 flights, I saw a sad connection [Off Message: "Data Show Vermont Air Guard F-35 Flights Spiked in April," April 24].
What we think about COVID-19 matters little. Medical science will prevail. What we think about F-35 noise matters little. The science of noise will prevail.
The U.S. Air Force, in its official report on the F-35, provided data from the World Health Organization on the effect of aircraft noise on human health. They concluded that the kind of noise produced by the F-35 damages our hearts.
After reading these reports, I thought about noise in relation to tobacco use. Years ago, we were assured that smoking was not harmful to our health. Those lies from the tobacco industry made them millions of dollars while millions of people suffered and died. Today, we are told that F-35 noise is not harmful. This lie and others are making billions of dollars for the defense industry. Time will show the health effects to people in our area.
Science shows the kind of noise produced by the F-35 will physically harm adults, and that children will suffer greater harm to their internal organs and could also develop learning disabilities.
Science indicates that the F-35 noise could have a "tobacco-like" health impact on us. Will we again ignore science? Will we believe the lies? Or will we learn from science and stop the harm from coming to our community?
Older and Wiser
Seven Days is the first news medium I know of covering elders living through — instead of just dying of — this pandemic ["Isolation Generation," May 13]. Most vulnerable, we also are most experienced. We remember before there were any vaccines against dangerous childhood diseases, when we all took our chances while awaiting our fates.
We also remember our parents trying to protect us and to get us to protect ourselves, then nursing us through inevitables, hoping there would be no complications and that it wouldn't be polio. Some of us remember before there were any antibiotics.
Risks and precautions nowadays are second nature, because we have been there and done that.
[Re "Isolation Generation," May 13]: That all seniors are isolated and dependent on social services and represent all the population of the state over 65 is a fallacy. You can be vulnerable at any age with chronic diseases — AIDS, MS, cancer, lupus, COPD or diabetes, for example — or having had a surgery.
Retail stores allowing unmasked consumers are a major health threat to all populations.
Is it fair to suggest that Vermont seniors who are legislators, doctors, court officials, tradesmen, etc. should remain housebound and meet virtually so college students, visitors and out-of-state businessmen can visit bars and restaurants?
Gov. Phil Scott forgets that we, too, can choose where to spend our money. He forgets that we will be here when the tourists depart.