Letters to the Editor, August 30, 2013
To the Editor:
In your letters column two weeks past, Kathleen Szabo, Executive Director of the Block Island Chamber of Commerce, cited a quotation attributed to Councilman Norris Pike, to wit: “I have always thought we need to take a long and hard look at the amount of people that get dumped on the island in the summer time...To me, we can be at the saturation point with the amount of people Interstate brings.” Three cheers, Councilman Pike!
Your worry is one that this writer, along with a sizable majority of other home owners, and I dare say a broad stripe of other visitors, yachtsmen to day-trippers, have had for years. To find it raised so pointedly in the chambers of power, where it could be said to teeter on electoral suicide, is altogether heartening.
Of course Mrs. Szabo, who is paid to do so, sees it otherwise. All the more reason for caution.
Speaking for the Chamber, she was “disturbed and dismayed by those comments.” She then went on at some length to say why in a number of different ways, all of which could be summed up in the oft-quoted cliche that tourism is the lifeblood of the island. No! The lifeblood of the island is the island. And if we are not careful how we manage our touristic diet, we will grow sclerotic and eventually die.
How is that? Well, the history of islands around the world, from Tahiti to Easter to Nassau, is rife with spoilage due to overcrowding. And here’s how it works: Mrs. Szabo dismisses Pike’s question that we may be “at the saturation point” by evoking the memory of Joan Abrams, “unarguably the mother of Block Island tourism.”
The eponymous inspiration of the Joan Abrams Award, Szabo points out, “stated many times that when all the lodgings were full every day, she would stop promoting Block Island.” It was a cute remark from a wise woman, a friend of ours, who certainly said it with a wink, knowing just as well as the rest of us, our hoteliers in particular, that “when all the lodgings were full every day,” that would be the signal for the business community to start building more.
There’s the danger. And we applaud Norris Pike for articulating it before it’s too late.
P. S. Wood
Old Mill Road
To the Editor:
Many are the extraordinary and breathtaking wonders of natural beauty of land, sea, and sky, in and about our island paradise (this remarkable clod of random glacial moraine!) beheld by those of us fortunate to witness them.
Among these gifts well-known to the denizens of Lakeside Drive is the breathtaking panorama of thousands upon thousands of water lilies now abloom and afloat, facing heaven, amid the sweeping ponds abreast of one another along Mitchell Lane: a treat to make your heart beat.
West Side Road
To the Editor:
Rick Wilson’s letter in the Aug. 17 The Block Island Times against the proposed Deepwater installation cited a number of textbook “climate denier” arguments — junk science and misinformation on global warming — in his case against the local turbines.
CO2 emissions from man-made industry since the industrial revolution have been linked to global warming by 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 2010). Just this week, The New York Times’ front page story, “Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming” reported on the recent United Nations climate report that says “it is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.” This is about as certain a statement as possible in scientific inquiry.
Global reduction and eventual elimination of all CO2-rich fossil fuels like coal, oil, and non-captured methane is the only way to stem rising global temperatures. If we don’t, our children, grandchildren and their children will suffer the consequences of our inaction with more severe droughts, floods, mass extinctions, and substantial loss of shorelines to rising sea levels and storm surges.
Large wind turbine installations (more cost-effective than small ones like Deepwater) currently power industry and homes in over 100 countries. Last year  broke records in wind project installations, according to the World Wind Energy Association. Every hour enough sun hits the earth’s surface to power the entire planet for a year, which is why utilities across the western and southwestern U.S. are building massive solar installations, the latest of which, Ivampah, just went online earlier this month to power 200,000 households in Los Angeles. Yet the author says that wind and solar are “very inefficient for large- scale use,” and that wind-based electrical technology is a “failed technology.”
Wilson also claims wind energy does not create jobs, but the manufacture of turbines and batteries used to convert renewable energy source such wind and solar into electricity and for electric cars is a fast growing sector, as are jobs in solar installation, energy auditing, and energy efficiency — the increase of which is central to CO2 emissions reduction.
True, as the author says, China builds a coal plant a week and last year surpassed America as the world’s largest carbon emitter. However, China is also the world’s largest producer of solar panels; China has the second largest amount of installed wind capacity in the world next to western Europe, and China has 103 cities and towns earmarked to become “smart cities” with electricity grids designed to share excess energy between rate payers and better manage peak loads (the direction every utility in America is headed). China’s focus on developing renewable and cleaner technologies is the centerpiece of their 12th five-year National Action Plan on Climate Change which, while far from perfect, is at least a plan, which the U.S. lacks, short of ad hoc regulatory agencies.
More to the point, Mr. Wilson is a resident of Wakefield, R.I., which is in discussion as one of the hookup points for the Deepwater cable running from Block Island to the mainland. Regardless of whether Deepwater is a viable proposal, his screed against climate science and smart energy policies seems to be less about climate change and more about his proximity to the cable that may come ashore.
West Side Road and Brooklyn, N.Y.
To the Editor:
As a member of the board of the Block Island Club, I was overwhelmed to see Jim Stevenson’s wonderful rendering of tennis lessons at the BIC in The Block Island Times. It was truly a treat to see the way he captured the spirit and unique nature of the Club and shared it with the broader community. From casual conversations, I know that many kids, parents and staff members loved his illustrations.
Thanks for sharing your gifts!
To the Editor:
Our next blood drive will be on Friday, Sept. 6, at Harbor Church from 10:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The usual blood drive in July was canceled because of the higher-than-usual incidence of confirmed Lyme disease. So please make an extra effort to help make up for that shortfall. Anyone over 18 years can give. There is no cut-off because of age. Please bring your valid driver’s license or your blood donor card.
All blood donations will make a positive difference in someone’s life. A large portion of blood collected goes toward treating children with leukemia at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Tim Connor is a student at Block Island School and has leukemia. An average person with this condition takes from 6 to 10 units of platelets a day. Let’s all do what we can to help him.
Peter Greenman, Coordinator, Rhode Island Blood Center
To the Editor:
The Block Island Historical Society’s 42nd Annual House & Garden Tour was a successful event, thanks to all 200 guests who participated and supported the museum. A huge thank you to all the home owners in the Sands Pond area who generously opened their homes and gardens for viewing and touring. We appreciate all the volunteers who gave their time to greet people with warmth and cheer on a foggy and rainy day. Thank you to all the drivers and parking attendants who got people safely to where they needed to go. The proceeds from the event will benefit the continued educational programs and archival preservation of the collections. It truly takes a village to make all this happen.
Board of Directors of The Block Island Historical Society