Former Boulder mayor delivers truth

Greenlee: Community hazards?

By Bob Greenlee
Posted: 06/10/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
Daily Camera

Things may never be perfect enough for some Boulder citizens even though, according to a recent Gallup poll, the city boasts having the happiest residents of any city in the United States.

Malcontent occasionally permeates nearly every conceivable dimension of human activity here. An upcoming “elite” bicycle race threatens our precious and equally elite open space lands. The gift of a Buffalo herd is rejected because buffaloes should only be seen at a football stadium or on a dinner plate. A city recreation center was recently closed over concerns about elevated levels of mercury and lead vapors being emitted from subflooring materials. Plutonium infested soils at the decommissioned Rocky Flats site will impact the health of regional citizens if the Jefferson Parkway is ever built according to a notorious local group of peace and justice whiners. Toxins and radioactive materials were stored or dumped at the city’s Valmont Butte and may be migrating to who-knows-where and people might get sick. Recovery of oil and gas employing contemporary fracking techniques contaminates drinking water, fouls the air, and threatens the health of school kids. Plastic grocery bags are evil and clog Boulder’s nearby oceans and moves us further away from achieving our impossible zero waste goals. Even clothes dryer vents emit toxic carcinogenic fumes into Boulder’s pristine air according to a recent letter to the editor. The number of hazards is endless and growing. In progressive eco-sensitive communities like Boulder “something must be done!”

Of course most, if not all, of this laundry list of concerns is largely a bunch of baloney. It’s true that accommodating the Pro-Cycling Challenge bike event will have impacts and perhaps race planners got ahead of themselves in proposing it end atop Flagstaff Mountain. People just don’t understand that our open space lands are primarily designated for “critters” and not for human activities. Various open space master plans only begrudgingly tolerate limited access by humans and their guardian critters. And because the amount of dreaded chemicals, toxins, and potential carcinogens can now be measured at nearly the molecular level the mere mention of them being present somewhere sends a number of local residents into nearly catatonic states of hysteria. Even our very own city drinking water contains minute amounts of arsenic, barium, mercury, zinc, copper and lead. Of course none of them pose any health risks whatsoever although simply declaring they exist won’t prevent someone from hyperventilating about them.
Other more specific targets of disdain are those plastic grocery bags that are primarily used to haul stuff like plastic bottles of over-priced drinking water, milk, soft drinks, and fruits or vegetables stuffed into other plastic bags. But the humble grocery bag will most likely either be banned or have discriminatory fees attached to them. It’s symbolism over substance and perhaps Boulder is just upset that it has already been bested in condemning grocery bags by other environmentally elite Colorado communities like Carbondale, Telluride, and Aspen.

Instead of misplaced hysteria there is one concern that should rise to the level of attention. It’s the low rate of parents who vaccinate their children who still attend classes in the Boulder Valley School District. Over 11 percent of parents have opted out from having their kids receive the recommended safe and effective vaccines. Statewide, an Associated Press survey places Colorado as being second in the nation for parents who consistently refuse vaccinating their school kids. (Alaska is first.) Our state’s health and education system makes it too easy for parents to escape from requiring their kids obtain immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. That’s largely the result of far too many people who tolerate believing unsubstantiated rumors that vaccines contain toxins that cause autism or other conditions.

Our lives are filled with a host of real dangers. Let’s deal with those that actually cause problems rather than react to rants from scaremongers.

Email: robertdgreenlee@aol.com

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