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September 23-30, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

Bagging In Hemp

I AM writing to applaud the efforts of Save Our Shores, Sam Farr, Bill Monning, Ecology Action, Oceana and all the others who are looking out for our future. I have spent an extensive amount of time in remote regions of the North Pacific and I can attest that plastic is everywhere. The ecological and human health risks it poses cannot be overstated. If phytoplankton and zooplankton are threatened by its presence then so are we. Those organisms form the foundation of the food web and as any carpenter will tell you, a good foundation is essential to a strong home. With a degraded base, our planet/home will warm, the oceans will become unproductive for us and, ultimately, we will suffer.

Chemical compounds contained within certain plastics act as hormone mimics in our bodies. These chemicals can disrupt endocrine function, particularly in the unborn and the very young. This is a cause for needless suffering and financial hardship and will not benefit society in the long run. That's some of the bad news, now here is some good.

By eliminating or rapidly phasing out one-time use plastic bags, we will begin to cool the planet while maintaining the base of the food web upon which we all depend. We must remain sensitive to those in the plastics industry who will be affected as they just might be our friends, neighbors or loved ones. What are the alternatives to plastic? The paper industry might fill the niche by incorporating hemp grown domestically by economically down trodden farmers. Hemp is not marijuana and we should now move far beyond associating hemp with the "evil weed." Hemp produces more and stronger material and uses less water than alternatives. This is good for forests and wetlands which benefit our oceans. It will also be good for farmers and the paper industry who might then employ out of work plastics laborers.

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy has set forth major recommendations for sustainable management of our oceans. By investing in our mother ocean we will reap benefits in the trillions, for perpetuity. As every investor knows, capitol is required to begin any great endeavor. Each and every concerned citizen should read up the commission's mission statements and decide how their efforts might best yield results for future and present generations. At the very least, we can all volunteer for local marine nonprofits for a sustainable future.

Daniel Bjerk,
Santa Cruz

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