Plastics and the Climate – The New York Times

To the Editor:

I am alarmed by the increasing threat that climate change and other industrially created damage pose to the environment and recognize that bold actions must be taken to reverse the causes, as well as address the consequences.

I commend my alma mater, Vanderbilt University, for its decision to eliminate the use of all single-use plastic water and soda bottles on campus, including in dining facilities and vending machines. Vanderbilt estimates that its decision will result in saving 1.7 million bottles during the four-year experience of a graduating class. It is heartening to see Vanderbilt leading the way in tackling our nations plastic pollution crisis.

I am pleased that Congress is also on the verge of taking action to reduce plastic waste. We will soon consider landmark legislation that would require plastic producers to take responsibility for collecting and recycling their plastic; require a 10-cent national deposit for beverage containers refunded upon their return; ban lightweight plastic bags, cutlery, plates, straws and drink stirrers; and increase the use of recycled material in new containers.

It is my hope that this important bill can garner bipartisan support, as bold action must be taken to reverse and address the consequences of climate change.

Id like to encourage other colleges to follow Vanderbilts lead. The future of our planet depends upon those who recognize the challenge and act now.

Steve CohenWashingtonThe writer, a Democrat, represents Tennessees Ninth District in the House.

To the Editor:

Giving Injured Troops Their Day in Court (news article, Dec. 12) is optimistic that Congresss proposed administrative process for medical malpractice claims against the Defense Department will help open courthouse doors shut to service members. Im worried that this legislation will have the opposite effect.

Because of the Feres doctrine, service members cannot file tort suits against the Defense Department. This year, Sgt. First Class Richard Stayskal, who has terminal cancer, bravely fought to overturn Feres in medical malpractice cases. The final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, however, leaves Feres untouched. Instead, it creates an administrative compensation regime.

Im glad that injured service members will get monetary relief. But Im concerned that this will placate us. The press is celebrating and Congress is patting itself on the back. Also, the Defense Department can use this remedy to protect Feres. It can now say that theres an avenue for justice.

Service members still deserve their day in court. Under Congresss administrative process, the Defense Department sits as judge and defendant. Wheres the neutrality?

Rose Carmen GoldbergOakland, Calif.The writer is a deputy attorney general in the Office of the California Attorney General whose work includes veterans rights lawsuits. The views expressed are her own.

To the Editor:

Infertility is a well-described and particularly distressing consequence of certain cancer therapies that can be mitigated with breakthroughs described in 10 Years of Fertility Advances (Parenting,, Dec. 11).

Most insurance companies do not cover these interventions, often restricting access to those able to pay out of pocket. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, New York will join seven other states in requiring specified insurance plans to cover fertility preservation treatments for patients at risk for infertility from a medical intervention.

This is a laudable advance, but cancer patients with public insurance, arguably the least likely to afford these procedures, are excluded from coverage. As these technologies become a standard of care, we must strive to establish equitable access to all patients whose cancer therapy threatens their ability to have biological children.

Jennifer LevineJoyce ReineckeNew YorkDr. Levine is an associate professor of clinical pediatrics, Division of Hematology and Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Ms. Reinecke is executive director of the Alliance for Fertility Preservation.

To the Editor:

Re A Defense of Cursive, From a 10-Year-Old National Champion (news article,, Dec. 17):

One of the vivid pleasures of my childhood is starting first grade and feeling excited that I would get to write on the blackboard. (It was 1950 so computers were not an option.) I loved making the letters. At the time, it didnt matter what I was writing; it was the physical act of shaping the letters that I liked.

Computers are practical, and I use one, but I have never felt any physical pleasure in tapping a keyboard.

Kathryn McArthurAlbany, Calif.

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Plastics and the Climate - The New York Times

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