Letters to the editor, Feb. 20

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The climate crisis continues

“We are grieving our grandkids – yours and mine.” This powerful message was written on a large poster carried by two grandmothers during a recent demonstration in Park Slope initiated by the environmental organization Extinction/Rebellion (www.rebellion.earth). This sentiment is expressed often by seniors and is totally justified. If we do not take action to drastically reduce global warming now the future for the next generations looks bleak. Why are we procrastinating?

Fortunately, not everyone is. Recently, there seems to be a recognition of the dangers at hand at the highest level of industry, finance, and government, some of them expressed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland. It behooves us to take note of the following:

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Letters to the editor, Feb. 6

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The overwhelming climate crisis

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the climate change crisis? If so, you are not alone and have reasons to feel stressed. According to scientists, we are facing the sixth global extinction; but whereas the previous five extinctions happened over millions of years, this one is taking place within only 200 years and we are at the beginning of it. One psychological problem of the climate change crisis is the uncertainty of a fixed date of when it will hit you and your family catastrophically. This vagueness can lead in many to inaction and/or procrastination which in turn leads to more stress and feelings of hopelessness.

Are things hopeless? Not yet. If you live in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village you are blessed to have witnessed over recent years management’s deep commitment to promoting “green” actions, for instance the installation of almost 10 000 solar panels for renewable energy, and many other energy saving steps (for this they received the 2018 Platinum LEED Award) . You can personally assist their efforts by faithfully recycling, composting, saving water and electricity in your apartment and by generally avoiding waste.

The city and state of New York are heavily engaged in energy saving projects such as reducing car traffic, and banning plastic bags to name just two. Globally, at the recent Economic Forum in Davos alarm bells regarding climate change were sounding, a new development.

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Ecological City Procession for Climate Solutions returns

Ecological City, a march with performances aimed at highlighting climate change, made its way through the East Village and Lower East Side on Saturday. (Photos by Rachel Elkind)

Environmental activists resembling aquatic creatures as well as land animals and other nature-inspired characters marched, danced and recited poetry as they made their way through the East Village and Lower East Side on Saturday.

The colorful costume parade was the second annual Ecological City Procession for Climate Solutions, organized by Earth Celebrations founder/director Felicia Young.

(Click through to see more photos from the procession)

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Letter to the editor, Oct. 25

Oct25 Toon Cuomo

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

How we can help save the planet

To the Editor,

The election on Tuesday, November 6 comes with environmental issues like climate change that have both immediate and longterm consequences for everyone on Earth and the Earth itself.

Scientists have made dire predictions about increased temperatures and both the melting of sea ice and the increase of storms and forest fires. On September 28, 2018 the Washington Post reporters Ellperin, Dennis and Mooney let it be known that the present administration in Washington foresees and assumes in its 500-page environmental impact statement that the planet will warm a disastrous “7 degrees rise in global temperature by 2100.”

The present administration, according to Michael MacCracken, a senior scientist at the Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002, says that “human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society.” And then MacCracken says that the present administration “is not going to do anything about it.” Continue reading

Letters to the editor, Oct. 18

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

What I am sure of on Kavanaugh

When Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois asked Dr. Christine Ford, “To what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” Dr. Ford answered, “One hundred percent certain!” The Senate of the United States is a (self-made) pompous place and its senators often excessively verbal. (Perhaps such goes with our lore that the chamber is contemplative.) Durbin’s question should have been to the issue of what happened to Dr. Ford and not to her belief(s). For her part, Ford should have rejected Durbin’s framing the question about her beliefs. Unfortunately, she, as a modern-day academic, followed Durbin and quantified her (own) belief.

As a response, “one hundred” is misleading. It firms-up nothing that is relevant! We were not interested in Dr. Ford’s beliefs. We wanted to know what happened. Dr. Ford’s reply should have been framed in terms of what happened—not in terms of her frame of mind. Her answer to Durbin should have been prefaced by her assertion, “Senator, it is not a matter of my belief, Brett Kavanaugh was in my face!”

Unfortunately, her professionalism—the quantified belief business—plunked us squarely in today’s swamp of reductionism where claims are taken as personal, and personal is treated as (nothing but) belief. We are left isolated in a mass.

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Letters to the editor, May 10

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why ruin a good thing for tenants?

Re: “Epstein elected to Assembly,” T&V, Apr. 26

To the Editor,

I wish I could share everyone’s enthusiasm for Mr. Epstein’s winning our Assembly seat.

He becomes my fourth representative in fewer than 19 years.

I write because he was pitching perfect games vs. the Rent Guidelines Board.

Why do we need him in Albany?

More could be done in Albany to strengthen rent laws, but not from New York City’s delegation to the State Assembly.

It may be Mr. Epstein has the necessities to be a Democratic leader in due course. But given that’s he was doing uniquely well fighting the Rent Guideline’s board, I wouldn’t have moved him to where he won’t be able to do as much.

Billy Sternberg, ST

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Gore and Cuomo get down and clean in energy talk

Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore (Photo by Michelle Deal Winfield)

By Michelle Deal Winfield

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both rolled out their vision of how to provide clean energy throughout New York State at a discussion hosted by New York University.

Hundreds attended the event on Friday, which was held at NYU’s Washington Square South Kimmel Center.

Gore, who received thundering applause upon stepping up to the podium, described how New York can help reclaim its environment by reducing fossil fuels. In 2011, 143 countries became involved in Gore’s Climate Reality Project which educates and advocates for climate change. He reiterated how scientifically, it’s known that the use of fossil fuels disrupts the water cycles. The North Pole and Artic regions are spilling out due to increased temperatures. The recent hurricanes are increasing every six months. Gore listed the following suggestions: 1) adding solar panels, 2) wind turbines and 3) the use of electric vehicles.

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Opinion: It’s a matter of when

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Next week will mark the fifth anniversary of the devastating Super Storm Sandy that ravaged much of New York City and the lower part of Manhattan in particular. The fury of that storm battered the low lying areas, caused the East River and Hudson River to overflow their banks and flooded miles of the coast line and interior blocks. Streets saw four feet of water. Cars parked on Avenue C and nearby streets were virtually swallowed up. Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were swamped and suffered a loss of power and heat for a week. Residents, especially the elderly were stranded in their buildings, without elevator service. To make matters worse, that week was unusually cold with temperatures plunging into the 40s at night. It was hard to escape the chill.  I was there, we all were there… and it was harrowing and it was dangerous. Eventually the lights went back on and the steam heat was restored. But the flooding destroyed basements and the cleanup took over a year at a cost of billions of dollars in the affected metropolitan region.

This community suffered mightily that week, but we also discovered much as well. On the good side, we realized once again that New Yorkers are at their best in a crisis. Neighbor helping neighbor and reaching out to strangers to help keep them safe. We witnessed this same resilience after the September 11, 2001 attack on our city. The character of New York City residents is tough but caring. In an emergency, the famous aloofness and at time gruffness of New Yorkers gives way to acts of kindness and genuine concern.

But we also learned that our city, its topography and infrastructure is totally insufficient to ward off such devastating storms. And we know that with the changing climate, which is undeniable except perhaps by some politicians in Washington D.C., such severe storms will become more frequent in the future. The oceans are rising, the global temperatures are warming and these conditions will make hurricanes and superstorms worse and worse and regularly threaten the Atlantic coastal areas. It is not a matter of “if,” but rather a matter of when and where.

In the short run there will be no remedy or even common sense preparation coming from the federal government. The Trump Administration has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords which would have required this country along with all other countries to do more to limit the emission of greenhouse gases and other causal actions that threaten our ecosystem and environment. For the most part our national leaders are taking an ostrich-like approach to this issue, burying its head along with any studies that substantiate climate change. So if New York wants to protect itself it will need to act alone.

We will need to build higher barriers along the low-lying areas of the East River and the Hudson River to guard against storm surge and over flow. Sadly some of the vulnerable areas in Queens, Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn that border on ocean or bays will be hard to defend. Some of those areas are just too open and vulnerable.

We also must undertake to better protect our underground subway system by installing the most efficient pumping apparatus so that our tunnels can remain operational. None of this will be cheap or fast, but it is essential. Mayoral candidates should be talking about this now.

The alternative is to just leave ourselves at the mercy of Mother Nature who seems increasingly angry with us.

Solar One replacement building breaks ground

City Council Dan Garodnick, Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins and Manhattan Borough Preident Gale Brewer hold hard hats at a ceremony for Solar 2 on Tuesday. (Brewer’s forehead bandage was due to a recent car collision, though she said it looked worse than it was.) (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After 10 years of planning, environmental non-profit Solar One announced a timeline for the construction of the new, replacement educational center known as Solar 2 on Tuesday, ideally to be completed by the end of next year.

Dina Elkan, communications director for Solar One, said that the incentive to finish within that time frame is partially because city budget is fixed so the funding from elected officials needs to be used by then. One of the challenges will be the overlapping East Side Coastal Resiliency project but Elkan said that since it’s the same architectural firm working on both, the two projects will be coordinating throughout the process.

At a ceremonial groundbreaking on Tuesday, Solar One also acknowledged outgoing Councilmember Dan Garodnick’s commitment to the project from the beginning of his tenure at City Hall.

“When he was elected 12 years ago, he came here with his campaign manager and asked how he could help,” Solar One Executive Director Chris Collins said. “His vision and willingness to examine thorny problems makes him unique to the community.”

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Opinion: Science be damned

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

The latest obsessive assault on the Obama legacy by his successor may be the worst and most irresponsible.

Last week, President Trump ordered research on climate change be scaled back. He is now encouraging the burning of coal as a primary energy source while also relaxing policies intended to curtail dangerous and toxic emissions and discharges into our air and water from a variety of sources and especially greenhouse gases. The President’s Environmental Protection Administration is also rolling back regulations on previously banned toxic insecticides claiming that such prohibitions hurt the farming industry.

The Trump Administration argues that our current policies on climate change and environmental preservation is bad for business and impedes job creation. That position is mortally shortsighted.

Scientific research has determined conclusively that the environmental challenges to our planet Earth constitutes a clear and present danger to our ecosystem. Comprehensive studies confirm that the polar caps are melting rapidly due to global warming, and the oceans and seas are rising at an alarming rate. And the impacts from storms and droughts are becoming more severe and more deadly every year.

Global warming is an undeniable fact whose ramifications are real. It is not “fake news” nor is it an “alternative fact” subject to dispute or interpretation. Hurricane Katrina engulfed New Orleans and Super Storm Sandy drowned coastal New York and lower Manhattan in particular. Parts of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper were literally underwater, and buildings remained flooded for weeks. Katrina and Sandy were apocalyptic previews… a shot across our bow by Mother Nature.

To ignore the warning signs and the gathering climate crisis is not just bad planning; it is profound ignorance or even worse, cynical politics.

The question as to whether the policies of the former president were bad for some jobs in certain industries is dwarfed by the magnitude of the crisis. If steps are not taken now to reverse the destructive trajectory of the climate change impacts, the result will be irrevocable in just a few more generations.

I am reminded of the decades of denial by cigarette manufacturers and their supporters about the devastating effects of smoking and the addictive quality of nicotine. The tobacco industry also called this fake science and clung to the fiction that smoking and the inhalation of second hand smoke was of little harm and no concern, nor should it be regulated. They knew better.

In fact, they knew for many years of the sickening impacts of their products but they cared more about profits than people. And they continued to market their products, especially to young people without regard to health consequences. A staggering amount of the cost of medical care and insurance today is attributed to smoking. The toll from smoking related deaths and illnesses is criminal.

With climate change and the Trump reversal of Obama policies, we are witnessing a repeat of the same arguments that were used by the big cigarette and tobacco companies back in the 1950s and 1960s and still to some extent even today.

But the present day climate crisis is worldwide and it is existential in nature. For the Trump Administration to bury its head in the sand is beyond bad policy. It is neglect of monumental proportions. It is suicide.

The global time bomb is real and it is ticking, and Donald Trump is making that fuse a lot shorter.

Letters to the Editor, Dec. 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Climate research is often alarmist

Re: Letter, “Scientists largely agree on climate,” T&V, Nov. 26

David Chowes wrote that 98 percent of climatologists (and other scientists) agree on the relationship between climate warming and the production of carbon dioxide by humans. One hundred percent of scientists agree that carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect, including myself.

The disagreement comes in regard to whether that contribution is significant and whether it is harmful. The 98 percent figure that Mr. Chowes quotes comes from a survey whose validity has been widely challenged and whose results do not match many other surveys. Recently, for example, a survey of 1868 scientists conducted in the Netherlands found that just 43 percent agreed that “It is extremely likely that more than half of global warming from 1951 to 2010 was caused by human activity.”

Suppose, for argument’s sake, that 98 percent of climate experts did say that human activity has had a significant impact on global warming. Supposing those scientists made these claims because they truly believed them and not because their grant money depended on it.

Too much of the raw data does not agree with their predictions, including the fact that the poles haven’t melted. (In Antarctica the ice has grown.) This is true despite data manipulation scandals such as the Climategate scandal of Nov 2009 and the subsequent tampering of climate data reported by the Telegraph in Jan 2015.

The most important lesson scientists learn is to be skeptical. The Xhosa tribe which Dr. Isaac discusses in her global warming book The Roosters of the Apocalypse destroyed their cattle in a misguided belief that doing so would defeat the British. Their mistake was that they listened to what their leaders said instead of relying on common sense. Like the Xhosa who destroyed their economy, we are doing enormous damage to ours through global alarmism as Dr. Isaac’s shocking book demonstrates.

Sincerely,

Gamaliel Isaac, ST

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Letters to the Editor, Nov. 26

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Scientists largely in agreement on climate

Re: “Climate researchers and false prophets,” letter by Gamaliel Isaac, T&V, Nov. 19

Firstly, the words “climate” and “weather” are not synonyms. The former refers to the world’s atmosphere over given periods of time; weather refers to temperature, precipitation, humidity, etc. in one specific area at a given time and attempts to predict the next few days.

Then there is science which we all have learned – but, usually a list of facts – with little emphasis on what “the scientific method” really means and its importance.

There is also the difference between the weathermen we see on TV (who are usually selected for on camera appearance and likability) and climatologists who are scientists.

John Coleman, whose documentary where he posits on the false assertions of climate change, is a weatherman (who worked on WCBS and WNBC and is now CEO of the Weather Channel). I am aware that about half of weathermen (and women) agree with Mr. Coleman.

But, 98 percent of climatologists and other scientists all agree with climate warming and its relationship since the industrial age as increasing amounts of carbon have been increased via humans’ use of fossil fuels. Which group has the background to achieve credibility?

Gamaliel Isaac, your allusion to the superstitious beliefs of the Xhosa in South Africa reminds me of the about ten persons hanged during the Salem witch trials. How one can compare the concerns of scientists to those of primitive groups – as you refer to the Xhosa tribe in Africa (or my example of the Puritans in Salem is beyond me).

If someone in the early 20th Century said that two small electronic units: one in the U.S. and the other in the U.K. could communicate without any wires, they would be thought to be crazy — but through the marvel of the scientific method, it can now be done.

CNN reported yesterday that each of the last six months successively have been recorded as the most warm since record keeping began. And, see Sunday’s NYT Magazine (11/15) on the continuing melting of the polar icecaps. And, science is nether liberal nor conservative.

David Chowes, PCV

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The Soapbox: Hoylman calls for action on climate change

Town & Village is proud to present “The Soapbox,” a column featuring a different voice from the neighborhood each week (space providing). All are welcome to submit columns on the topic of the author’s choice, preferably not longer than 800 words, to editor@townvillage.net.

State Senator Brad Hoyman at a meeting of the Sierra Club

State Senator Brad Hoyman at a meeting of the Sierra Club

Hoylman calls for action on climate change

By Joy Garland

On September 9, the NYC Sierra Club that meets monthly at the Seafarers and International House on East 15th Street, hosted “The Waters are Rising: How will NYC and NYS Respond?” Members in the packed room listened to Cynthia Rosenzweig, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Dan Zarilli, Director, Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the City of NY; and NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, Ranking Member of the Environmental Conservation Committee.

Hoylman told the audience that one of his primary goals was to call the legislature’s attention to the threat of human-made climate change, but felt his message met a seemingly anti-science undercurrent from some of his colleagues.

Hoylman submitted an Earth Day resolution calling for action to fight climate change, but the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee told Hoylman that it was omitted because a recent cold winter in Syracuse appeared to debunk climate change.

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Letters to the Editor, Apr. 9

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Thanks, TA for speaking up for neighbors

Re: ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Al Doyle gives testimony at rent regulation extension signing,” T&V, Apr. 2

We are very fortunate to have such well-spoken leaders in our Tenants Association as Alvin Doyle and Susan Steinberg to voice our concerns to our representatives in the City Council and those in Albany.

Having had lived in Stuyvesant Town during my entire married life and now as a widow, I am grateful for the community spirit and have appreciated the warm neighborliness that PCVST has provided. It is all well and good to strive to provide for new affordable housing as this city was built by and maintained by a strong middle class. It would be tragic to lose PCVST, which has served this city so remarkably, while politicians are promising and possibly not delivering new affordable housing. A little common sense should prevail please!

And why should Albany, who takes so much from NYC, have anything to do with our homes! We should have home rule!

I once invited Bruno to tea…no, he did not come but I wanted to have a little sit-down with him! Look where he is now. Why is he not in jail? Why did he have anything to do with trying to get me out of my home? And I’m still here…

I am thankful to the leaders of our Tenants Association, Dan Garodnick, Mark Thompson, (State Senator) Brad Hoylman and his predecessor Tom Duane, (Assembly Member) Brian Kavanagh, District Leader Louise Dankberg and others who have fought for the rights of the middle class! I know I have left many out but you know who you are. All politics are local and we all need to continue to fight for what is right.

Finally I am grateful for Town & Village who has covered our community since day one and helps keep us all informed and provides a mouthpiece for our concerns.

Kay Vota, ST

Note: This letter was first published as a comment on the Town & Village Blog, town-village.com.

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 25

Conversion would allow NYU tenants to buy

To the Editor,

A letter in your Sept. 18 edition says conversion of PCVST to condos can serve to end dormitory living here by NYU undergraduates. The opposite could happen. In a conversion, existing leaseholders have the right of first refusal to buy the apartments they are leasing.

If NYU holds leases on the apartments occupied by students, NYU would have the right to buy those apartments in a conversion.  Also, NYU would be able to buy any apartments not purchased by other leaseholders. NYU obviously needs student housing in this area. A conversion could result in an increase in the number of apartments occupied by undergraduate students.

There are efforts to keep, or make, PCVST affordable housing. That’s consistent with having undergraduate students as neighbors. Students need affordable housing. NYU undergraduates will disappear from PCVST when NYU builds more dormitories, or when rents rise to a level where the owner finds it more attractive to rent to someone other than students.

Another letter in the same issue wonders what happened to the concept of converting PCVST to condominiums. The beginning point of a conversion is either a purchase of PCVST by a new owner who will pursue conversion, or a decision by the present owner to do a conversion. If the property isn’t for sale, there can’t be a new owner.  So the basic question is: How likely is it that the existing owner will sell, or convert, the property?

PCVST was built and owned by MetLife as an income producing property, because MetLife wanted a reliable source of income. When MetLife sold the property, the largest source of financing for the buyer was first mortgage bonds purchased by large institutions. They bought those bonds, because they wanted a reliable source of income, and the bonds provided that.

When the owners of the bonds took over ownership of PCVST, they acquired a property that provides the reliable source of income they want. Ownership of PCVST meets their investment objective.

The amount of income the owners can earn from the property is limited by rent stabilization, until the low interest rate J-51 financing on the property matures in June 2020 (or earlier if the J-51 financing is prepaid).  Then apartments can move to market rents as provided by New York law. Thus, in six years the owners will be able to start increasing their rental income.

The owners are large, deep pocket, institutions.  For them, six years is a reasonable wait.

As the total rental income increases, the value of the PCVST will increase. The increase in rental income will occur gradually over a considerable number of years, and the property’s value will continue to rise during those years. At some point, the owners may want to cash out, either by sale or conversion. But right now the property is meeting the owners’ investment objectives, and future of the property is positive. It will be a lot of years before the present owners sell or convert.

Floyd Smith, PCV

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