Impending end or not?
Regarding "Explosive hybrid" (Your Views, Nov. 5): Most significant events have multiple causes. This was true of Hurricane Sandy. The term "perfect storm" has been used, usually after the fact, to describe how small independent events combined to produce, well, a perfect storm. Consider the first time Barry Bonds hit two homers in a Major League game. Perhaps it was his innate talent, or maybe the Reds' pitcher was having an off day. But most of us now believe Bonds was assisted by performance-enhancing drugs.
Hurricane Sandy may signal the impending end of civilization by global warming, or not. We won't know for many years. Meanwhile, Americans must decide whether to do nothing or take baby steps to delay the hypothetical onset. The most direct near-term baby step would be to tax fuel-borne carbon, then let the free market respond accordingly.
John G. Chase
Nuclear power plants have an excellent record in protecting the environment, with nature preserves associated with their sites such as at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power facility in Maryland ("Ecology Party of Florida to battle over environmental concerns surrounding the Levy County nuclear plant," Oct. 31). There are virtually no emissions from nuclear power plants as compared to fossil fueled plants, with almost all the water used only for cooling and returned clean to the environment. While any major facility like a nuclear plant will have some impact, this is the price of having adequate, economical electricity for jobs and to allow us to afford preserving environmental quality.
Certainly, environmental impact studies need to be evaluated, and acceptable levels maintained, but there is no escaping that we do need to accommodate new nuclear power plants in Florida.
Professor James S. Tulenko
Nuclear Science Center
I have a few questions concerning the deaths of two special-needs children in Hillsborough County ("Deaths put schools under new scrutiny," front page, Nov. 3.) Why are special needs children being cared for by our public school system, where the primary focus should be on education? Why not have them cared for by people trained for that need, under manageable conditions?
The deaths of two young special-needs girls while in the care of Hillsborough County Public Schools is both tragic and mystifying.
These were not merely "accidents." Both deaths were preventable. Jenny Caballero and Isabella Herrera died needlessly with adults near or around them.
In the case of Jenny, an 11-year-old with Down syndrome, the narrative is commonplace as with most drowning victims. The culprit was poor supervision. I believe in mainstreaming, an inclusion philosophy in which children with special needs are included in activities and environments with non-disabled, typically developing children. It benefits all children.
But a crowded gym of 140 children seems like a vulnerable place for any child — with a disability or not. All children are resourceful, and if they want to get out of a situation, they will find a way out, in this case with heartbreaking consequences.
In the case of Isabella, a 7-year-old with a neuromuscular disorder, her death is even more confusing, as the school district employees apparently followed protocol by radioing a dispatcher with the notice of a "red alert." That may be fine for most bus "emergencies," but in a case of life and death, it would seem that the better course of action would be to call 911.
The response time has to be quicker, no?
As we all know, hindsight is 20-20. School district officials and the staff members involved no doubt feel horrible about these tragedies. They do such a great job every day with nearly 200,000 students throughout the county to teach and care for.
But the tragedy will be compounded if staff training and supervision strategies are not improved so as to prevent other children from suffering similar fates.
The legacy of Jenny and Isabella deserve at least that much.