Letters for June 13, 2013

Sacto needs ultra lounges

Re “Hey, Sacramento, ultra lounges still suck” by Nick Miller (Midtown&Down, June 6):

I honestly couldn't disagree more. Upscale is exactly what this cow town needs. Telling people they should go to the Palms [in Las Vegas] for luxury is ridiculous. That's good money you're asking [people] to leave on the table, and this city needs it. Is Sacramento such a hick town that luxury is frowned upon? There is literally nothing to do in this boring city other than go cow tipping or hit some wannabe swank spot like the Mix Downtown that's trying to bring a some sort of nightlife to a town that routinely advises new residents to go to faraway cities if they want to have fun. Why should someone be forced to go to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe or Reno for some serious adult fun? Why export all that income and business? People are dying to leave this city, which is one level away from being called the boonies. And you want to have fewer places to go? Low-class spots don't do well because nobody worth anything wants to hang around rednecks, meth heads or thugs that eventually bring down low-class venues. Keep it upscale, and bring Wackamento out of the country-music dark ages! Meridian, Miss., has more going on than Sac. Wake up!

Iz Wuditiz

via email

Geoengineering may be necessary

Re “Geoengineering: an earthly gamble to combat global warming” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Feature Story, June 6):

You have performed a considerable public service by presenting a solid analysis of what will soon be one of the top political issues. With a few decades of business as usual, we’ll hit CO2 levels last seen in the Eocene, when crocodilians lived in the Arctic Circle. Things should get bad enough that we’ll start reducing greenhouse-gas emissions before then, but lags and feedback in the climate system mean we’ll be heading over the cliff before the average voter realizes we’ve got a problem. There is, unfortunately, an excellent chance that some sort of geoengineering scheme will be needed.

I personally think highly of the specific biochar approach outlined by James Lovelock of Gaia fame. It could take enough CO2 out of the atmosphere to be a big help without a lot of nasty side effects. It also looks like since farmers would profit from plowing biochar into their fields, it would ensure its own passage by buying farm votes. As long as North and South Dakota have two senators each—the same as the vastly more populous California—buying off farmers can make things happen.

The schemes to block sunlight are scary, both because of the unintended impacts and because we’d be stuck keeping them going for tens of thousands of years, and humans aren’t very good at being responsible for even short stretches of time. The problem is the enforcement issue that the article neglected. It would be easy to tell Bill Gates or Nicaragua to stop pumping sulfates into the atmosphere, but what if China or India is hit with mega-droughts and tries a sulfate sun shield to counter them? Good luck telling a nation with a billion-plus people and a nuclear arsenal to play by the rules.

I’m all in favor of just throttling back on fossil-fuel usage, but progress on selling that to American voters has proceeded at a glacial pace. If we get the USA on board, we then get to confront the who-does-what and why-can’t-we-burn-as-much-coal-as-we-want-until-we-get-rich-like-you arguments from hundreds of countries. Without geoengineering, we’ll probably be engulfed by a global disaster, with the only plus being the fun of Nuremberg-style trials for global-warming deniers.

Frank Grober


Stop inflating college bubble with cheap credit

Re “College debt is out of control” (SN&R Editorial, May 30):

Your editorial on college debt never addresses the cause of the education bubble: cheap credit. Flood any market with money and the prices go up. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal will ease near-term debt burdens, but it will not stop colleges from increasing tuition ad infinitum. The result will be lower interest rates but greater total debt loads. That is not a long-term solution. If we want higher education to be affordable, then we should stop inflating this bubble with subsidies. This will force colleges to slash prices so that they fall in line with what people can really afford.

Marcus Karr

via email