Tom Mayer: War: Whatever happens in Ukraine, we must avoid nuclear war
Two enormous dangers jeopardize the continuation of human life on planet Earth: uncontrolled climate change and nuclear war. The myopia and downplaying of the two truly existential threats by virtually all political elites is astonishing and also infuriating.
The war in Ukraine provides a terrifying example of how a nuclear war could happen. Russian political leaders have declared that they could use nuclear weapons to prevent the loss of Crimea. Conversely, American politicians are so determined to weaken Russia and perhaps oust Putin from power that they drastically downplay the appalling threat of nuclear war.
Suppose Russia is about to conquer all of Ukraine or suppose Russia attacks military supply chains to Ukraine in NATO countries (e.g. Poland, Slovakia, Romania). In both cases, some Pentagon and State Department strategists have advocated the use of nuclear weapons.
The essential lessons of the war in Ukraine are fourfold. First, war fever greatly diminishes the reluctance to use nuclear weapons. Second, a stable resolution to the war in Ukraine can only be achieved through diplomacy and would likely resemble the ignored Minsk Two agreements. Third, everything that happens in the war in Ukraine has little historical consequence compared to the existential need to avoid nuclear war. Fourth, humanity will only be safe from nuclear war when all nuclear weapons are abolished.
Readers may think that the universal abolition of nuclear weapons is a long political plan. Fairly true. But the survival of human beings on planet Earth for any substantial length of time is also a long term.
Tom Mayer, Boulder
Lori Malone: Energy: the Xcel bill should not double without warning
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in shock when I received my energy bill from Xcel Energy this week. In my 20 years of living in the same house in Boulder, Colorado, I have never had such a high energy bill. I called Xcel to find out why my bill was so high, a statement of almost $200.00 due, with no arrears added, the customer service rep told me that Xcel had more than doubled the rate for the spas , natural gas. As a utility, isn’t there a protocol for notifying the public of changes?
I sent a letter of complaint, not that it will do any good, my only small voice, to the attorney general of Colorado. It’s not fair that Xcel can more than double the cost of heating without even a letter in advance warning us that they are going to screw us up to fatten their profits.
Lori Malone, Boulder
Megan Kaspari: Mental Health: Take Time to Have Important Health Conversations
As students from across the country flock home for the holidays, taking the time to discuss mental health is crucial. A statistic from the Psychiatric Annals by Brian Skehan and Vivian Chan comes to mind that “the prevalence of any mental illness in the United States peaked in adults between the ages of 18 and 25.” As many students fall into this age group, they need to have resources to support their mental well-being. For parents with children coming home for the holidays, feel free to sit down with your children to have open and honest conversations with them about their well-being.
One of the first steps in helping with mental health issues can be to reach out and provide a safe space. Parents and children must bridge the communication gap that often arises when young adults leave for college. Students need time to develop individually, but it’s equally important for them to have strong support systems in place. Although people of college age may display higher levels of mental illness, this illness does not discriminate by age. Students, as you return home this year for the holidays, also take the time to talk with their parents and siblings about their mental health. While the holidays are a time to come together and celebrate, it can be a very difficult time for many. With so many people suffering in silence, the value of simply reaching out is often underestimated. You never know if your parent, child, or sibling is struggling beneath the surface, so make time for important conversations while you still can.
Megan Kaspari, Boulder
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