Letters to the Editor: 12.06.12

Our readers' comments

More Tasteful
    East Hampton
    November 29, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    The Zoning Board recently granted John and Suzanne Cartier the right to keep their existing modest-size home and build a second home of similar proportions for their children and grandchildren on their larger-than-two-acre lot. The village board, however, believes a large-lot scenic easement does not allow two houses on the property and plans to take legal action against the Cartiers. This would be a mistake with regrettable consequences.
    Should the village board prevail, the inevitable result would be a single allowable 9,800-square-foot house with pool, pool house, tennis court, security gates, and all the other predictable “improvements” plopped down in the heart of the historic old village.
    I would like to add my voice to the chorus of voices from village and town residents in support of the Cartiers’ far more tasteful and appropriate plan.
    Sincerely yours,

Mindless at the Beach
    East Hampton    
    November 30,2012
To the Editor:
    On Sunday morning of the Thanksgiving weekend I was sitting in my truck at Main Beach looking out over the beach and ocean, in wonder of the beauty and serenity of the setting.
    I have believed us East Enders, so close to nature, have an affinity and appreciation for the great outdoors, and thus was dismayed to watch as a woman and her young family first romped on the beach tossing three red and white plastic beach balls about for several “photo-ops” and then intentionally disposed of the beach balls by kicking them out upon the ocean waters, waved good-bye, and returned to their white Cadillac (license plate FXS 9001) and drove away!
    I was so surprised by her careless and mindless behavior all I could do was stare after her. If she reads this, may she be deemed admonished and ashamed, and forever cease such action in the future.

Want Her Back
    East Hampton
    November 27, 2012
To the Editor,
    We are writing in regards for Sheila Carter, who worked as the transportation coordinator at the East Hampton Senior Citizen Center. She worked there for over 19 years and was all of a sudden let go. Sheila was a kind, fun, and accommodating person. She arranged for the elderly to be picked up every day and taken home. She also arranged for seniors to go on trips. She was great in her job.
    We, the concerned senior citzens of the East Hampton Senior Citizen Center, want her back as the bus transportation coordinator.

Invaluable Asset
    East Hampton
    November 30, 2012
Dear Editor,
    I’m writing to express my appreciation and gratitude to our East Hampton Town Superintendent of Highways, Steve Lynch.
    In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Steve and his crew did an incredible job cleaning up the mess and debris on our roads, and throughout our community.
    Steve and his crew are an invaluable asset to our town, helping to keep the roads safe and secure for all of us — and I congratulate them on a job well done.

Great Service
    East Hampton
    December 2, 2012
Dear David,
    I am becoming more and more impressed by the interest and commitment of the Group for Good Government. G.G.G. continues to surprise me with its extensive research on town issues and cogent suggestions in the best interest of the community; they sponsor open forums and encourage civil discussions regarding topics of concern, such as school budgeting and bus parking, septic waste management, town budget, and deer management.
    I hope that others will recognize the great service the G.G.G. is providing to the community with their objective attempts to assist in problem solving. 

Anticipate the Needs
    East Hampton
    December 1, 2012
Dear David,
    Your editorial addressing the town’s parsimony in providing important services (“Time to Get Serious, Nov. 29) is well taken. In its determination to save money, the Wilkinson administration has from the beginning cut back or eliminated town-supported programs such as leaf pickup, after-school programs, and counseling, to mention just a few.
    Although this is disappointing and discouraging, it does not rise to the level of being dangerous. The town’s failure to anticipate the needs of our community when there was ample warning that Sandy was coming is beyond irresponsible. In the aftermath of tropical storm Irene, plans could and should have been started.
    Several good ideas were put forth by some of your readers this week; here are a few more: Each hamlet should have a designated shelter with a backup generator. These locations should be made public through the town Web site, radio and newspaper ads, fliers, and announcements at schools and public meetings. All of this should be done before the crisis hits, so that people will know where to go if they must leave their homes.
    This will require funding, and if that means raising taxes, so be it. It’s hard to imagine anyone who would complain about reasonable tax hikes if doing so will contribute to the safety and well-being of our residents. With the reality of global warming and sea-level rise we are sure to see more superstorms in the future and we must prepare now.

Important Warnings
    December 3, 2012
Dear David,
    The two letters of last week regarding the capital budget, by Munir Sultoon and Peter Wadsworth, are important warnings that the Town of East Hampton is allowing its infrastructure to deteriorate. However, these two members of the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee are misinformed about the town’s history of capital planning, especially in regard to the Highway Department.
    Through 2009, the annual capital budget closely matched the recommendations made recently in these two letters and by the BFAC. It was not 10 years ago, but only in 2010, with the arrival of the Bill Wilkinson Republican town board, that the planning for and maintenance of the town’s assets precipitously declined.
    The real history of capital planning is that every year, from the 1990s through 2009, the town board prepared a three to five-year capital plan that received a public hearing. The 2009 capital budget provided for many of the capital needs of the highway fund for the five-year period ending in 2013. This adopted plan recommended spending between $300,000 and $500,000 every year on capital road improvements. Since 2004, that was a standard amount for road capital improvements, and it was spent in addition to the road improvement money in the annual operating budget.
    The 2009 capital plan also recommended spending $300,000 during that period on pollution abatement and runoff, which are drainage projects run by the Highway Department that stop polluted water from entering our harbors and other waterways. Again, this amount was in addition to $1.9 million earmarked since 2004 for similar projects. There was also a recommendation to spend $150,000 on information technology upgrades. The recommendations now made by BFAC mirror the historic spending patterns and the 2009 town board capital plan recommendations.
    It is true that when Supervisor Wilkinson and the Republican town board took office in 2010 there was a deficit in the capital fund. But the highway and sanitation funds had known surpluses that were very large and could have paid for the town’s infrastructure needs in those areas. Instead of using the surplus money properly, the Republican administration took out $3 million of these surpluses and applied them to lower the tax rate. That use of the surplus made it look like they were holding down annual spending far more than they really were.
    This misunderstanding of the history of the town’s capital budgets does not diminish the vital message of the BFAC and these two members: We need to budget annually and properly for our roads, water quality, information technology, and other infrastructure needs, or else we will face future replacement costs in the tens of millions of dollars.

Political Bickering
    December 2, 2012
Dear David,
    An oceanfront owner on Deforest Road wanted to shore up his property and the town property on either side of his house with sand and called the town engineer, Tom Talmage. Tom told Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc about the problem, in that the town board must give the permission to have sand put on the property.
    The result was Theresa Quigley started bickering about who on the board should tell whom the problem and who is the liaison to Tom Talmage. She thought she was! Then the supervisor chimed in with Councilman Dominick Stanzione being the liaison to Montauk and that he should have made the report, then things went downhill.
    Because of the political bickering the homeowner is unable to move forward to protect his property. The homeowner’s request was tabled, not even discussed. What if the needs of the homeowner were an emergency? What a dysfunctional group of Republicans on this town board! Citizens’ needs don’t count when the Republican bickering kicks in.

Dangerous Precedents
    December 3, 2012
Dear David,
    An article in last week’s issue, “Yes for Rock Revetment,” raises some unsettling questions. The zoning board of appeals granted a variance to construct a solid revetment in a location where the East Hampton Town Code prohibits them.
    Lee White, a Z.B.A. member who voted against granting the variance (along with Sharon McCobb), commented that “the house has to be in imminent peril” in order to permit a hard revetment, and that peril did not apply in this particular case — and yet the variance was granted. Additionally, this variance was granted over the objections of Brian Frank, the town’s chief environmental analyst. Among other comments, Mr. Frank cautioned that the hard revetment would create “unanticipated environmental impacts.”
    The Star quoted Don Cirillo, another Z.B.A. member, as stating, “When water comes onto somebody’s land, I don’t think that town code restrictions are applicable.”
    Water is coming onto many properties around East Hampton, and the number of affected properties will grow significantly in the near future. This new Z.B.A. decision has downgraded what were formerly important parameters: whether a house is in imminent peril, whether our own expert environmental analyst cautions against a hard revetment, and whether unanticipated environmental impacts might occur.
    In granting this variance, the Z.B.A. has set dangerous precedents that other property owners can use in their requests for similar variances. And if a similar variance request is denied, this precedent can be used against the Z.B.A. in lawsuits brought by the applicant.
    The town might now also find itself in costly lawsuits that arise from both potential and actual degradations occurring on neighboring properties. And finally, if revetments built by individual homeowners on private lands damage public lands, for instance a public beach or beach access, what recourse is there other than using our taxpayer money to correct the problem? We cannot sue a homeowner for doing something we gave him or her permission to do. These are the dangers inherent in ignoring Mr. Frank’s graceful but ominous phrasing: “unanticipated environmental impacts.”

Deer and Disease
    East Hampton
    November 29, 2012
To the Editor:
    Earlier this year, you were kind enough to publish my letter to The Star regarding my extremely debilitating experience with a deer tick-borne parasite disease, babesiosis. A week ago, I attended a meeting of the East Hampton Group for Good Government at which Dominick Stanzione discussed, among other things, the proposed deer management plan, which will be reviewed by the town board on Thursday.
    G.G.G. made the plan available online, and I was distressed to see that the plan contains only a passing reference to the deer tick-borne diseases of Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis. It does note that there has been a significant increase in Lyme disease cases on the East End.
    For the most part, it seems to me that both the proponents and opponents of deer control are focusing on factors such as auto collisions, destruction of plantings, and similar relatively benign results of the huge increase in the deer population. To me, the most important reason to cull the herd is the frightening increase in babesiosis in our community, which reportedly has up to a 20 percent death rate for senior citizens, the very young, and persons with impaired immune systems (which can be caused by a number of factors, including cancer treatment).
    Babesiosis is now described as endemic on eastern Long Island; it is spreading so rapidly that it is now a reportable disease. The Centers for Disease Control specifically states that “babesia microti is transmitted in nature by Ixodes scapularis ticks” (also called blacklegged ticks or deer ticks).
    I had my own brush with death from this horrible disease; it can only be a matter of time until a neighboring child, or senior citizen, or cancer patient, or somebody with a compromised immune system dies from babesiosis.
    I loved both “Bambi” and “The Yearling” when I was a child, but I grew up, and I urge that the proponents of unchecked growth of our deer population do the same.
    Very truly yours,

Community Support
    East Hampton
    November 27, 2012
Dear David,
    East Hampton Town has an important public hearing tonight at 7 on a proposed white-tail deer management plan.
    The East Hampton Business Alliance first raised the issue of the need to address the deer (over) population four years ago, and we thank Councilman Dominick Stanzione for taking this on. The alliance is concerned about public safety and health problems resulting from accidents and tick bites, the annihilation of our woodlands, the devastation to homeowners’ landscaping and to our farms and nurseries, and the blight of deer fencing ruining many (soon to be most) of our beautiful vistas.
    A brief summary of the plan calls for a baseline count of the deer population and their locations, an interim increase in hunting to cull the herd to a sustainable level over the next three to five years, along with the development of nonlethal deer management methodologies. It should be noted that much of the meat harvested goes to our local food pantries.
    The town board needs to hear that there is community support for this plan in order to move forward. Please show your support by speaking at the hearing. If you are unable to attend the meeting please e-mail or call the supervisor, council members, and/or the town clerk to voice your support.
    Thank you,
    Executive Director
    East Hampton Business Alliance

Not Acceptable
    East Hampton
    November 27, 2012
To the Editor,
    The East Hampton Town Board will hold a public hearing tonight on its deer management plan. The problem with this is they are misleading the public with regard to the Lyme disease aspect of this plan. They have been given numerous chances to set the record straight, but have refused. The residents need to have the latest facts on what will happen if the town board slaughters the deer before they deal with the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. The health of East Hampton residents, the animals they love, and anyone who visits East Hampton is now at risk.
    Culling the deer will not stop Lyme disease. This fact has been proven over and over again. Even though the board is aware of this, they continue to blatantly ignore the scientific data. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has been in the process for the last several months of updating their information Web site on Lyme disease. I have spoken directly to two different entomologists with the C.D.C. and both have confirmed this information. Currently, the C.D.C. in Colorado is conducting research that confirms an increase in Lyme disease as a direct result of culling of deer herds. This data is to be published in 2013.
    By killing the deer before the black-footed tick and Lone Star tick are dealt with, horses, dogs, and people could see an increase in Lyme disease by up to 80 percent in the next three years.
    A simple step would be that until there is a solid plan to reduce the numbers of ticks in East Hampton, deer management in the town will be useless to reduce Lyme disease, instead almost doubling the numbers.
    To put it plainly, 25 years ago, one study on a small island noted that a reduction in the deer herd size would control the spread of Lyme disease. However this study did not take several things into account, including the white-footed mouse, and does not outline the life cycle of the black-footed tick, among other things not known to researchers at the time. (Imagine allowing your doctor to use only information from 25 years ago.)
    Since 1988, there have been over 100 scientific studies worldwide, all refuting these results. They all state that unless you deal with the tick, people are at greater risk each year they go unsupervised.
    The newest and most complete research comes out of the Cary Institute in Millbrook, N.Y. (caryinstitute.org). This is a state-of-the-art scientific research center where they have been researching Lyme disease for the past 20 years. Dr. Richard Ostfeld, whom I have also spoken to on several occasions, is the man who literally “wrote the book” on Lyme disease. (I bought copies for each board member from Barnes and Noble online.)
    Ticks are not born with Lyme disease. They acquire it from their first host, the white-footed mouse. These mice are running around your homes, are in your sheds, and living under your porches. Seventy different types of birds then move these ticks all over East Hampton.
    Within 90 seconds of a deer being killed, ticks release their hold on the carcass and begin the next stage of their lives. They do not die just because the host has died. Instead, as the deer is their final host, they will go to reproduce, creating thousands of new little nymphs, sometime much sooner than expected, and creating a tick population explosion.
    I have contacted the Department of Environmental Conservation in Suffolk County, which does not have a vector-borne disease division, just one person who works on several different “projects,” as they called it. Only the Suffolk County Department of Health in Yaphank has anyone working on this. Dr. Scott Campbell, who the town reached out to once, is the only person working on Lyme disease at all. He told me that they were supposed to contact him again, but never followed up.
    On Fire Island and Shelter Island the D.E.C. has allowed the use of tick tubes and four poster feeders, and the number of Lyme disease victims has dropped drastically. (You can read the Shelter Island and Fire Island four poster deer and tick study final report from May 2011 online.)
    Why have the towns of Shelter Island and Fire Island been helped by the D.E.C., with 50 percent reductions in Lyme disease and deer population, and East Hampton has been ignored? Ask the board.
    This is your health and the health of your children and animals. I urge you to come to Town Hall on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. and let the East Hampton Town Board know that this plan is not acceptable. Voice your opinion and stand up for the health of your family.
    Question: Where do you think the ticks will go, if there are no deer?
    Answer: On you, your children, your grandchildren, and your animals.

Needed Something
    November 25, 2012
Dear David,
    My dear friend was depressed. She had invested $10,000 in an online “find-a-husband” service and nothing suitable had materialized. She needed something to lift her spirits.
    I took my friend to East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve holiday party. We were greeted by Jack Larsen, the founder and uber-host. We were encouraged to write our 2013 wishes on Yoko Ono’s lovely “Wish Tree.” We were welcomed into Jack Larsen’s home with its treasures and warmth. We ate Indian food and cupcakes and drank hot mulled cider.
    Fortunately, my dear friend’s online husband-shopping opportunity has a money-back guarantee. She will donate to a local not-for-profit, like the LongHouse Reserve, and perhaps have dinner with the nice gentleman who we met who appears to be available — a win-win for all, don’t you think?
    All good things,

Delicious Dinners
    East Hampton
    November 23, 2012
Dear Mr. Rattray:
    On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton once again made available delicious Thanksgiving dinners for clients of East Hampton Meals on Wheels and their family members or caregivers who were unable to attend the dinner at the church itself.
    This service, which has been diligently performed by this church for many years, filled a tremendous need in our community, because the clients who received these meals were homebound and unable to cook a Thanksgiving meal for themselves or for their guests.
    We heartily thank the Rev. Thomas L. Schacher and the faithful church members who gave enormously of their time and energy to make Thanksgiving Day pleasurable for many lonely individuals.
    We do indeed have much for which to be thankful during this season.
    Very truly yours,
    Meals on Wheels

21st Century Diner
    East Hampton
    December 2, 2012
Dear David,
    We stopped for lunch on Sunday at the Highway Diner and Bar, Montauk Highway, just west of the village of East Hampton. What a surprise!
    The decor and ambience is very welcoming. The extra windows across the front have an abundance of light pouring into this 21st-century diner that serves breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch, and dinner. They have a nice-looking bar to sit at to eat and also a fun counter with a foot stand that is extremely comfortable to sit and eat at, plus many tables.
    The Reuben that I had was more than delicious. The corned beef was moist and made on grilled rye bread served with coleslaw with mustard seeds. The French fries were crispy and tasteful. My wife enjoyed her medium-rare Highway burger that was actually served medium-rare.
    They have an extensive children’s menu with old-fashioned drinks, i.e., egg cream, floats, milkshakes, and wonderful sundaes that you can build your own.
    I can’t wait to go back to have dinner. Their starters sound incredible: crispy shrimp, calamari with zucchini chips with a spicy aioli.
    The pricing is very reasonable. They have something for the entire family. Simple but delicious.
    I will see you there the next time. It was yummy! I think that they have the right recipe for success.

A Happy Anniversary
    East Hampton
    November 29, 2012
Dear David,
    We thought our Topping Rose in Bridgehampton anniversary dinner was well worth sharing with The Star.
    Reasons why? Amazing food, perfectly cooked vegetables (baby carrots!), risotto to die for, aromatic spices, and unusual, creative combinations of foods. In addition to the exceptional food, the service was gracious, earnest, and top-notch. We arrived to read personalized menus, and ended our dinner with “Happy Anniversary” written in chocolate on a plate of homemade cookies. The staff is thrilled to welcome “locals.”
    The actual space is spectacular, and for architectural history buffs or those who enjoy a clean historical space we wholeheartedly suggest a visit. This restaurant will, no doubt, transform the restaurant scene of the East End.
    The entire experience was well worth the visit. We plan to go again before summer begins and the tables will be truly unattainable!
    Happy Holidays!

Chanting Dawn
    November 28, 2012
Dear Editor,
    Upon an evening, oh, too bright, upon a song too much too long, She in her dress of purest white joined the chant­ing throng.
    Who knows what that throng did with her or for how very long.
    For she and they disappeared when along came dawn.
    Happy December,

Farewell Reality
    Sag Harbor
    December 3, 2012
To the Editor,
    David, I owe you a lot of gratitude for offering space in The East Hampton Star every week for over 20 years. The privilege of freedom of the press while embedded in a corporate-controlled media. Far too many have been manipulated in the way they think, living in an illusion. Many of my letters have been titled “A Reality Check.”
    A few closing comments:
    I think we can all agree our government has been dysfunctional a long time. The bottom line is money and excessive greed, which brought the collapse of Wall Street. Power of the military and its sibling the C.I.A. has been involved in perpetual war since World War II. Victims include our own children. Wall Street and the Pentagon have run our government for too long. The Pentagon budget is obscene with no accountability, the C.I.A.’s 16 spy agencies’ budget has never been revealed — a top secret, paid for by our taxes.
    The immense popularity of politics seems to be a superficial face of a superpower going stark raving mad, once referred to as mutual assured destruction. Still true but in denial. Anyway, there also might an element of taxation without representation. Is that not how our nation began? A reality check.

Seldom Produces
    November 29, 2012
To the Editor,
    Pundits agree that America’s road to economic salvation lies in politicians jumping on the compromise bandwagon. The belief in that compromise is the key to produce a negotiated settlement that satisfies the concern of all parties. Fact is, it is only effective if the focus is on satisfying the interests as well as positions of all parties.
    As Harvard’s Fisher and Ury point out in their classic negotiation text, “Getting to Yes,” it is only after the negotiants address the underlying (often unstated) interests, that everyone can back off from what appear to be hardened positions. “Getting to Yes” suggests that making concessions on one’s strongly held positions, simply to avoid conflict or to give the appearance of flexibility, seldom produces rational outcomes.
    An example of the latter is described in Henry Higgins’s lament in “My Fair Lady”:
    “. . . You are up against the wall!
    Make a plan and you will find
    She has something else in mind,
    And so rather than do either
    You do something else that neither
    Likes at all.”
    No, not at all. “My Fair Lady” is musical comedy. Whether what comes out of Washington is comedy or tragedy will depend on the good will and negotiating skills of everyone involved. The scary prospect is that given their track record to date, what we’ll have in store for us is more farce. Bring in the clowns.

To the Republicans
    East Hampton
    November 28, 2012
To the Editor,
    When they were sworn into the United States of America’s Congress the pledge was to the Constitution of the United States of America.
    Also to the constituents who sent them to Washington.
    How can they sign a pledge to Grover Norquist, a lobbyist, that they won’t raise taxes? What power does he have over our senators and representatives?
    The country needs jobs and many other things done. These elected officials refuse to work together with the Democrats. I can recall when they did work together for the good of our country.

What Must Be Done
    East Hampton
    December 3, 2012
Dear David,
    You may have noticed that most of the coverage of Superstorm Sandy is about rebuilding, replacing the beach. There has been very little about why it happened and what it foreshadows. For those of us who have been studying the science on climate change, it is like watching a horror movie when the heroine, a flickering candle in her hand, is descending the stairs into the basement where the ax murderer lurks.
    One can still read in mainstream publications that there is disagreement among scientists on climate change. Where is this disagreement? It does not exist.
    The World Bank has this to say: “The world is barreling down a path to heat up by 4 degrees [Celsius] at the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change, triggering a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, according to a new scientific report released today that was commissioned by the World Bank.”
    They are not predicting inconvenience and 1 or 2 degrees that our air-conditioners have to overcome. They are predicting ocean rise and storms that swamp every coastal city in the world. They are predicting drought and dust-bowl conditions in the breadbaskets of the world, mass starvation. They are predicting acidification of the oceans that spells the end of shellfish and coral reefs, potentially the end of the ocean as a source of food. You find that last too alarmist? Phytoplankton, the world’s largest source of organic matter, is down 50 percent in the last 60 years.
    These are the men and women on the forefront of science, who made these predictions 30 years ago, and 30 years of further study and observation of accelerating effects have strengthened their conviction, exacerbated their alarm. Scientists: we can’t understand half of what they say, but we ignore them at our peril when they come down to us and speak to us of danger.
    Succumbing to the disinformation from the fossil fuel lobby, mainstream media perpetuates the myth that climate science is disputed. Look: The killer heat wave in Europe, the flooding rivers in Pakistan and Nashville and Memphis, Katrina, Sandy, the melting Arctic, the forest fires in the American west, hottest 6 months in U.S. history in 2012, 100 degrees in Moscow for the first time, Pakistan hits 129 degrees, hottest ever in all of Asia, historic drought in Australia. Disastrous global warming begins at midnight, and the twelve bells have already rung. The questions are, how fast, how bad is it going to be? When will we begin the gargantuan task of conversion to sane policy, and will it be too late, too timid, to make a difference?
    I have a few favorite red herrings from mainstream media:
    1. It is too big a problem. We can’t just shut down society. We need fossil fuel to keep civilization going — wrong.
    It may surprise you to learn that there were a couple days this year when Germany met half its energy needs from renewable resources. The Netherlands, where experience holding back the ocean is a cliche, they’ve been spending billions to make their dikes bigger and stronger. The studies have been done of how to curtail the fossil fuel catastrophe. Naming one, Scientific American featured a cover story that cataloged what would be needed. Conclusion: the obstacles are social and political, not technological or economic. It can be done.
    2. The Chinese are building coal power plants two per day, so they will overwhelm any reduction we could make — misleading.
    As of 2009, the emission of carbon dioxide in the United States is 17.2 tons per person, per year. In China the number is 5.3. Since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for about a century, consider how much of it, due to the fact that we’ve been the most rapacious consumers of fossil fuel for many decades, is our carbon dioxide.
    The people of China want to live as we live. We showed them how to make a consumer society based on fossil fuel. Now we need to show them how to stop that. Our politicians tell us we are the leaders of the world. Where are we leading? Are we the Judas goat leading the planet to slaughter? We should stop pounding our chests and telling ourselves how great we are. We should show some greatness.
    3. We have raised the temperature of the Earth by .9 degrees Celsius. The last time it was 2 degrees hotter, the oceans were 50 feet deeper. The most common response when I quote that frightening statistic, “Oh, well, I’ll be dead by then.” Not so much. If you live in the Rockaways, that future is now. But is our society on balance that cynical, that disdainful of the children being born today, that we can see ourselves choking the beneficence from the planet, and we are too selfish to stop? Because we’ll be dead when the worst happens? Answer coming soon.
    Al Gore was right, but he doesn’t know squat about making a movie. Stephen Spielberg, you’ve just proven that you can make a history lesson about Abe Lincoln and most of the country will go watch it, even if they hated history, and talk about it for weeks.
    I recently attended an important climate change event in New York City put on by the people of 350.org. They were thrilled to fill a 2,500-seat auditorium. Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, you filled Yankee Stadium. Lorne Michaels, get Bill McKibben to host Saturday Night Live! Make denial the object of ridicule.
    Ronald Lauder, Lloyd Blankfein, help us convince Republicans it’s okay to believe in climate change.
    Without all players in this game, we all lose. Sooner or later the disasters pile up and we just can’t fix them all. One thought-provoking statistic: there are 519 power plants in the U.S. that are less than 10 feet above high tide, 27 of them in New York, where there was a 13-foot storm surge from Sandy. The rich are not invulnerable; indeed, they have the most to lose.
    Bill Wilkinson, Larry Cantwell, charge the planning departments with developing a plan to make East Hampton the first “net-zero” town in America. Face squarely what this means. It means we must bring to its knees, the richest, most powerful industry on the planet, the fossil fuel industry. That definitely will not happen until some time after one million Americans are on the Mall in Washington on the same day. That is possible now. But it will not be possible when those people are spending all day trying to find dinner.
    If America has to lead, then who will lead America? National politicians? They need fossil fuel money and influence to get elected and stay in office. Only when public opinion can overwhelm private interests can the politicians do what must be done. First, we have to excite the populace to push the politicians to the front of our parade. Within our city limits reside more thought leaders per capita than — maybe anywhere. Think big. Do what only you can do. Millions of lives depend on it.
    Interested? E-mail 350eastend@optonline.net.