Letters for Monday, May 14, 2012

• First meters, now this • Here are my credentials • Atlas may shrug

First meters, now this

Recently, our neighborhood was made to switch to trash cans provided by the county. These large, 96 gallon bins —  let’s call them “smart cans” — allow the automated trash truck to operate more efficiently and with less crew, thus saving time and money.

However, there is a dark side to these smart cans: using the Internet I read articles written by self-proclaimed smart can experts, and they made it clear just how dangerous these new cans are. These cans are made from a material called “plastic,” and this is the same plastic found floating in the Pacific Gyre. In fact, each of these smart bins will last over 10,000 years. Think of how Kaua‘i will look 10,000 years from now — littered with these horrible smart cans.

Another expert, who is an adjunct faculty member at a small Northern California community college (well really, he’s just a classroom helper) wrote an impressive treatise on the effects of long-term smart can exposure. He found that children who were forced to spend 23 hours per day living inside a smart can were adversely effected: bad mood, hot, sweaty and performed slightly less well in school.

When I contacted the county to see if I could opt out, I was told no, these cans are for the good of the community and to improve service for everyone. Well, how can they improve service when clearly they are pure evil meant to spoil everything we hold sacred?

Surely these smart cans are a conspiracy.

John Patterson, Kapa‘a

Here are my credentials

In a letter from Carl Berg in The Garden Island on May 4, I was named and listed falsely as lacking credentials. I must defend my credentials, which he is well aware of.

This was in response to an article published in the newspaper on April 30 outlining the findings of an independent study of samples taken from mud at the mouth of the Hanalei River and in Hanalei Bay.

In his letter, Carl Berg made the following accusations against me: “… that this self-proclaimed ‘marine biologist’ has no academic credentials, no scientific experience, and chooses to hide from the public that there have been extensive studies of the coral reefs and pollutants in the water …”

These highly inflammatory, false statements have no basis in fact.

Following is a summary of my academic credentials, my scientific experience and descriptions of some the biological work that I have performed.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in the field of biological sciences from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, in 1980. Marine biology is indisputably a biological science.

I am one of the only Certified Reef Check Divers on Kaua‘i. This reef transect survey monitoring program is accepted in 80 countries and acknowledged by the United Nations.

I did the first ever HD video reef check survey of coral reefs in Kaua‘i.

I have collected findings for four Ph.D. programs at the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa research facility at Coconut Island; Dr. Berg once hired me to create a high-definition video of coral reef destruction on the West Side of Kaua‘i.

I graduated from an invitation-only endangered species seminar in San Francisco in 1998, taught by one of the authors of the Endangered Species Act, and taught a required ESA training course to clients including AT&T, the California Department of Transportation and U.S. Army.

In 1980, I founded the first captive breeding center for endangered reptiles in the world. I captive-bred more than 30 species now housed in zoos around the world.

I hold more international endangered species permits than anyone in Hawai‘i.

Dr. Berg cites earlier studies in 2006 and 2010. My review of the studies leads me to conclude they did not study the black mud that has built up along the Hanalei River and has covered or killed parts of the coral reef in Hanalei Bay over the past three years.

Terry Lilley, Hanalei

Atlas may shrug

Perhaps the reason so many letters to the editor are against the installation of smart meters, is because the writers are not proficient in science.

Only 32 percent of eighth-grade students were found proficient in science, according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, an exam administered by the Department of Education. Only 2 percent of those tested were ranked “advanced.”

My ex-employer, a California-based high-tech company, was unable to find Americans for the thousands of jobs they have. I worked with very smart Indians and Chinese who were “imported” on special technology visas and made up more than 85 percent of the workforce. Although these people enjoyed living in the Bay Area, many of them planned to move back to their home countries, where they could telecommute (as I did, from Kaua‘i, for my last three years of employment) and where their salaries would put them in the top 1 percent.

If Americans want to prevent the exodus of these jobs, they best start figuring out how to spend more money on education, including paying teachers salaries that match their training. Hawai‘i ranks last in “Salary Comfort Index,” meaning retaining highly qualified teachers is extremely difficult.

Soon Atlas will shrug, and the American Dream will die.

John Zwiebel, Kalaheo

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