Want proof of climate change? Groundhogs

*Want proof of climate change? Groundhogs *Cigarette butt trash is costly, dangerous *Dissatisfied w

Want proof of climate change? Groundhogs

I am no expert, but according to Dr. David Inouye, director of the graduate program of Conservation Biology at the University of Maryland, while a groundhog’s decision to leave or return to its burrow is usually regarded as folklore, there may be a scientific basis.

On the Pulse of the Planet radio program, presented by the National Science Foundation, he said, “Marmots typically burrow through the last few feet of snow on the ground, stick their heads out and appear to then decide, based on the temperature, whether they should go back down and re-enter hibernation for another few weeks or to stay out.

“Marmots are now emerging 38 days earlier than they did 23 years ago. We believe that this is in response to the warming in temperature. Because the temperatures in April have been warming up, they seem to be confused, and they’re now staying out in April earlier and earlier, even though there is still as much as 5 or 6 feet of snow on the ground.”

Dr. Inouye further said “ … if this interval between the time they emerge and the time there is something green for them to eat keeps increasing, they are going to run even more risk of starvation in the future. In the long term, we would expect an evolutionary response, and the smart marmots are going to be the ones that learn to adjust to this new climate regime.”

Well, that is encouraging. But what will happen to climate change deniers who are marmots or are readers of The Gazette?

Kernan Davis


Cigarette butt trash is costly, dangerous

It is officially spring and the warm weather is rolling in, which signifies being outdoors and in the fresh air. However, as the remaining snow finally melts away, an unfortunate sight becomes apparent: cigarette butts that have been discarded on the ground.

Over the past 10 years, America has made a significant change. Cigarette smoking has decreased by 28 percent. Unfortunately, cigarette butts remain the most littered item. Out of all the litter collected, cigarette butts make up 38 percent of that mass. The butts are very visible to the community. They can be found surrounding park benches, sidewalks, beaches and restaurants. The sight of the butts is not only unappealing, but negatively influential to young children. The more the children are exposed to this, the more likely they are to start smoking.

Tobacco-related litter has a very negative influence on our environment and our economy. What most people don’t know is that 95 percent of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that decomposes very slowly and which harms the environment if left there. Not only are the butts harmful to the environment, but they are harmful to the animals that live there. Oftentimes, animals mistake the butts for food, which puts them at an increased risk of premature death.

Also, residents and businesses have to pay for the removal of the cigarette butts. This is an expensive process that can very easily be prevented. When landowners are looking to sell a property, one of the many things reviewed is the cleanliness of the land; with the presence of cigarette butts, the property values decrease by 7 percent. This makes it a lot more difficult for the landowner to sell.

Recently, a survey was administered of over 1,000 smokers. The results showed that 35 percent of smokers toss five or more cigarette butts per pack on the ground. To put that information into perspective, if one person who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day tosses five or more butts on the ground, that adds up to over 1,800 cigarette butts in the course of one year.

One way to reduce tobacco-related litter is for businesses and organizations to go 100 percent smoke-free. Also, smokers can do their part by disposing of cigarette butts properly, in the car ashtray, ash receptacle, or portable ashtray.

As a member of Reality Check, I ask you to think before you toss your tobacco-related litter on the ground — no ifs, ands or butts.

Brianna Harrington


Dissatisfied with care given at Ellis Hospital

In response to the two letters describing the treatment — or lack of treatment — they had received at Ellis Hospital, I have to concur with them.

I was recently a patient at Ellis. With the exception of a hospital-assigned doctor, I received substandard care. The doctors assigned to evaluate my symptoms were conscientious, with one exception who I felt was a fee chaser and extremely incompetent. The nurses and aides were overloaded with a large number of patients, so proper care and attention varied depending on the time of day.

The social worker did her job of following the insurance regulations rather than caring about attention and medical follow-up exceptionally well.

In summation, I felt that Ellis has a long way to go in mending the loss of reputation and status of a first-rate medical facility. It is easily understood why Ellis has lost a large number of former patients to other hospitals in the area.

C.J. Brown


Schenectady police could be doing better

I am writing regarding the manpower situation in the police department for the city of Schenectady that was reported on by The Gazette previously.

It is no secret that the police department in Schenectady is understaffed, but the administration says “crime” is down in Schenectady. Of course it is down when you simply reclassify crime to something else. The “crimes” most dispatched to in Schenectady are domestic-related and tie up two cars for sometimes long periods of time.

Heaven forbid if you ever get in a car accident with no injuries in Schenectady. You can wait for several ours for a response because it is not a “crime.” If your car gets broken into, you can wait for the same protracted time because it is not a “crime in progress.” Do you see where I am going here? Instead of hiring the amount of officers needed to do the job, you downplay the work to show that the officers are not needed. There are times that surrounding towns have more officers working than the city.

Now add to this the administration sitting at their desks and armchair quarterbacking instead of actually going on calls and doing the job hired for, and you can see that there is, along with not enough boots on the street, too many boots on the desk.

Much better use can be made of people that are already working for the police department. There are many good officers that do their jobs day in and day out, but there are those that hide and extend calls for hours because the “boots on the desks” are not doing their jobs to make sure these calls are cleared quicker. This makes the workload much heavier for the officers actually doing what they are paid to do. It also causes a backload of calls that are not “crimes in progress,” which causes upset callers to repeatedly call the call center and take it out on the dispatchers.

In other states, city departments hire peace officers who handle calls, such as minor property damage accidents that do not need investigation. They also handle these calls that are not called “crimes in progress” that the city is reclassifying. If the peace officer feels an officer needs to respond or follow up, he or she is then called or follows up after the call. These individuals also handle parking complaints and other minor calls. They are paid much less than an officer and the training is much faster.

Schenectady already has individuals working in the parking division that could be retasked for this purpose, thereby saving money for the city and getting better service out to residents. Of course, this would have to get past the all-powerful police union. Another story in itself.

David W. Gallup


Facts don’t support Obamacare criticism

I read with dismay the March 29 op-ed piece, “Five years later, Obamacare still not working,” by Alyene Senger, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation.

It’s the same old tripe her foundation has been dishing out since the Affordable Care Act’s inception. I find this to be the height of hypocrisy because the law was modeled on the Heritage Foundation’s own proposal for health care reform.

The first question that came to mind after reading the piece was, if Obamacare is as deplorable as Senger says it is, how come Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, its most vociferous opponent, enrolled his family in the program? Furthermore, since Senger’s assessment relies on research done by her own biased foundation, I questioned the accuracy of her portrayal.

To get an objective analysis, I went to my favorite resource, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” and I recommend your readers do the same (just Google “Washington Post Fact Checker, Obamacare.”) The Post’s “Fact Checker” devoted a series of articles to test the truth of the claims made by both sides in the debate.

But overall, it paints a wholly different picture. Obamacare, the Post concluded, is far from the failure Senger proclaims it to be.

In addition, a recent Gallop poll shows definitively that the number of uninsured American adults has fallen dramatically since 2008. I recommend your readers visit: http://www.gallup.com/poll/168248/uninsured-rate-lowest-2008.aspx to get the real skinny.

Fred Como

Burnt Hills


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