A bright future is possible, if we care for the planetMike...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 14, 1999

A bright future is possible, if we care for the planet

Mike Scott should be commended for his article, "Waste not, want not, so recycle," (Opinion Commentary, Sept. 6). He helped us look beyond the moment to a future that could be bright, if each of us takes responsibility for recycling and reusing as much as possible.

One person can make a difference. By handling our recyclables in ways that keep them from landfills and incinerators, we help keep the air and earth cleaner and set an example for others.

If we shirk our responsibility as stewards of this beautiful planet, future generations will have to live with the results of our sloth.

Is that the legacy we want to leave our grandchildren?

Jeanne M. Ruddock, Baldwin

The article "Waste not, want not, so recycle" offered some possible solutions to the problem of resource depletion.

Legions of books and article have been written about the environmental problems we will face in the coming century, but few have offered solutions that can be implemented in a timely fashion.

The driving forces of environmental degradation include technology, political and social values and an ever-increasing population. The mitigating forces are environmental laws, market adjustments and informal social regulation.

At the balancing point of these opposing forces lies human behavior, which is very difficult to change.

When I teach "environmental health" at Johns Hopkins, the last question on my final exam is, "How can humanity solve its environmental problems?"

The answer invariably includes some catastrophe that acts as a wake-up call for behavioral change.

I hope we won't have to come to that point.

George J. Jakab, Baltimore

The writer is a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health.

AAA will not tolerate discrimination, bad service

The electronic media and The Sun have covered extensively an incident that took place when one of our members, Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., sought emergency road service from the Automobile Club of America (AAA) ("Towing contractor used racial slur, delegate says," Aug. 17).

Although we may never know just what took place that evening, we do know that the incident, in which a racial slur was alleged, has caused concern among members and area residents.

Upon receiving a letter from Delegate Burns on Aug. 17 that informed me of this incident, I requested a full investigation and directed that Delegate Burns be contacted with our apologies.

We also contacted the contractor involved and requested that the driver be immediately suspended from running any further AAA towing calls, pending the outcome of our investigation. The contractor complied with our request.

I would like to apologize to everyone who was offended by this incident. It is clear a confrontation occurred and that we did not deliver the caliber of service that our members, including Mr. Burns, have every reason to expect.

I want our members and the public to know AAA Mid-Atlantic has zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior, by our employees or those of our contractors.

We place a premium on quality service and the performance of our emergency road service contractors. AAA Mid-Atlantic handles more than 1.4 million road service calls a year and our customer service satisfaction is 93 percent.

Members of AAA Mid-Atlantic can be be assured that my staff will amplify our abhorrence of discrimination and that our position will be reiterated to staff and independent contractors.

Allen J. DeWalle, Philadelphia

The writer is president of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Delegate's experience parallels his intolerance

I am sorry that Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. was on the receiving end of another's hatred ("Towing contractor used racial slur, delegate says," Aug. 17). Such intolerance has no place in a civil society.

Ironically, Mr. Burns has exhibited the same hatred toward Maryland's gay and lesbian community.

Year after year, Mr. Burns has opposed civil rights protections for gays and lesbians -- he's the only Baltimore-area elected official to do so.

While the incident Mr. Burns endured is unfortunate, his conduct toward gay and lesbians is no less offensive.

Perhaps Mr. Burns will reflect on this incident and learn that words of hatred or insult are never acceptable.

Cathy Brennan, Baltimore

Real Estate section a monument to waste

Must the Sunday Real Estate section be such a monument to consumption?

I cannot imagine the raw materials involved in building the 3,900- to 7,000-square-foot houses featured Sept. 5 ("New homes that go back in time"), not to mention the resources required to maintain them.

I realize the housing industry provides advertising revenue, but occasionally it would be nice to see something about smaller, existing houses -- or about the large portion of Baltimore-area residents who rent.

Miriam Schoenbaum, Baltimore

Animal testing violates the sanctity of life

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