Excerpts from the Globe’s “Voices of New England’’ blog at www.bostonglobe.com/podium.
On Cape Cod, great white shark stocks have been growing, or at least becoming more concentrated, because of the multiplying numbers of seals around Monomoy Island. We are fortunate to have such abundance of these sharks in our own waters. Around the globe, we are killing millions of sharks each year. As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in the health of ocean ecosystems. Yet, in the last sixty years, we have lost an estimated 90 percent of shark populations to our own predatory behaviors like overfishing and “finning” sharks for shark fin soup. Remove the predators and the whole ecosystem begins to crash like a house of cards. As the sharks disappear, the predator-prey balance dramatically shifts, and the health of our oceans declines. Given that the majority of the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean, not to mention much of the world’s protein, it is not an exaggeration to say that when our oceans’ health declines, our very survival is at risk.
I believe it is time for a new ethic, a new view of the sea and its inhabitants. Like lions and tigers, sharks are predators and must be respected. As human populations increase and more people take to the sea for recreation, we must be vigilant about how our own activities interact with wild animals.
— BRIAN SKERRY
A WOMAN MODERATOR
I am the first and the last woman to moderate a presidential debate during a general election campaign. That was in 1992. Twenty years ago. I was shocked when reminded of this fact recently by three teenage girls from New Jersey. Sammi Siegel, a 15-year-old, and Elena Tsemberis and Emma Axelrod, both 16, started a campaign to petition the Bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates to pick a female moderator for at least one of the three presidential debates scheduled for this October.
Debates are often decisive in who becomes president since it’s a chance for voters to hear each of the candidates state their positions on the issues and discuss solutions for the future.
I agree with the teenagers that there needs to be a female moderator, especially one who can bring to the forefront of the debates the issues of women’s rights that are being challenged today.
— CAROLE SIMPSON
CHANGING THE NIGHT SKY
Cities could be saving millions in infrastructure costs annually — while saving valuable energy resources — by using LED street lighting. There are an estimated 26 million streetlights in the United States, consuming as much electricity annually as 1.9 million households and generating greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 2.6 million cars. At least 60 percent of these streetlights are owned and operated by the private sector. However, nearly all are paid for with public dollars, costing the United States more than $2 billion annually in energy alone. For many cities, street lighting is the largest fixed annual general fund expense. Put simply, the lights must be on and taxpayers have to pay for them.
Decreasing public funds, increased public scrutiny, and customer expectations have led to heightened interest in LED street lighting. However, competing priorities like public safety, homelessness, and other concerns have made initial funding difficult, even for a program with the potential to generate positive cash flow in year one. Some cities have found that converting to LED street lighting has allowed them to meet economic and efficiency expectations within the first year by immediately reducing energy and maintenance costs.
— EDWARD SMALLEY