June 1, 2012

Letters to the editor
Oceans threatened by plastic pollution

Unfortunately, throwing things away isn't always the best decision for you or planet Earth. Nowadays things are made cheaper because of our growing population and our high demand for certain kinds of products. Petroleum-based materials have taken over, and we continue to use them as a growing world.

click image to enlarge

Plastic waste is to blame for polluting our oceans, a reader writes.

2011 Press Herald file/Gordon Chibroski

However, plastic is not such a bad thing. The only problem is the way we dispose of it. The thing that is being affected the most by plastic pollution is the ocean.

Bottled water has added to the amount of plastics being put in the ocean. Many different studies have shown that water that comes from the tap in the United States is just as healthy as or healthier than bottled water.

Fortunately, bottled water consumption rates are starting to decline but are still affecting our environment greatly. Plastic products like water bottles are so complex that when broken down they turn into microplastics, which mimic zooplankton and are consumed by fish that we eat!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch off the coast of California is a very strong example of what plastic can do to the ocean. More than 1,000 miles long, it affects many different ecosystems and can be very life-threatening to different kinds of ocean life.

Although the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thousands of miles away from our Maine coast, it does not mean that our oceans are not being polluted as well.

As an avid fisherman myself, I worry about the future of the ocean and what this kind of pollution will do to the important organisms that fill the deep blue sea. If this throwaway culture that we have been consumed in continues, then Maine's fishing industries and wildlife could be greatly affected.

Christopher Moulton

Wells

Readers react to episodes of bullying in Westbrook

Congratulations to Tori Pabst for her courage to stand up and talk about the episodes of bullying she has endured. Thankfully some of her teachers, Ray Richardson of WLOB radio, and Bill Nemitz (Portland Press Herald, May 25) stood beside her to talk about this issue.

Too bad some who witnessed or heard about the bullying did not feel a moral obligation to support Tori and put an end to these destructive actions. Ignoring a request for help or calling the victim a "wimp or sissy" is to support the bully.

Left unchecked, bullying is as bad for the bully as it is for a victim. Expelling those who participate in these actions may not be the only answer. Bullying is a cry for help, and counseling may be more beneficial in combating this hurtful activity. Certainly, showing our disapproval of bullying is most critical.

Why do some people participate in making life miserable for another person? It makes them feel more powerful, and maybe those who follow feel accepted into a group of people who share a similar goal. They should feel ashamed of their behavior.

By law, our kids are required to go to school to become educated, responsible citizens. We pay to have them receive the best education possible. Standing by and taking no action hurts all of us by denying a safe and productive educational environment for them.

I hope everyone, students included, who observes a bully in action will have the courage to stand up, express outrage and support the victim by talking about it and taking action when necessary. It is hard to do on one's own, but together people can put an end to bullying.

Betsy Hanscom

Scarborough

Bill Nemitz's column (May 25) caused disgust and anger to rear their foul heads in my mind. It is beyond belief that Westbrook High School's assistant principal, Howard Jack, and principal, Thomas O'Malley, didn't know about and/or were actively inactive throughout Tori Pabst's multiple cries for help.

How could officials at Westbrook High School not know about the bullying occurring inside the walls of their school? How could they ignore and/or not do anything about Tori's pain and abuse that was clearly out in the open for all to see? If they were aware of the bullying and resulting personal pain and did nothing, there should be consequences. If they weren't aware of the bullying and the personal suffering, there should be consequences. Either way, the spotlight is now on their callous incompetence.

For Thomas O'Malley to fall back on the glib, vapid notion that "we" can turn Tori's suffering into "a teaching and positive type of thing" extends the abuse Tori experienced and is an insult to public education, to hard working and decent educators throughout Maine, and to every single student who is forced into the isolation of abuse and bullying inside our school buildings.

Yes, there are lessons to be learned. However, it's got to go beyond lessons to be learned. Tori is an admirable, brave young woman and has set a strong example for all of us. And now Westbrook High School needs to set another kind of example: Remove the school administrators who have been exposed as inept educators and who have clearly shirked their tax-paid responsibility to provide a healthy learning environment for all students.

Michael Ehringhaus

Portland

Memorial Day parade is no place for politics

I am the daughter of a WWII veteran who served proudly in the USMC at Iwo Jima. My dad's service and the service of the thousands of veterans who have and are serving this country is something we, as Americans, should all take time to honor, particularly on Memorial Day. To those who marched in all the area parades, I thank you for your dedication. Now for the real reason for this letter.

I was disappointed, dismayed and thoroughly offended to see several area political candidates using (the Memorial Day) parade as platforms for their current campaigns when instead they should have taken the time to honor our military personnel, past, present and future.

In my opinion, this behavior blatantly disrespects and dishonors all the men and women who so proudly serve this nation. If you wish to march in a parade to show your respect for our veterans then certainly you should do so, but please leave the glad-handing, "vote for me" (act) to another place and time. A Memorial Day parade is not the proper venue for campaigning and to those of you, and you know who you are, I can only say "shame on you." You lost my vote, and I would encourage everyone who reads this to seriously consider your lapse in judgment in exhibiting such disrespect as reason enough to consider the "other guy" when it comes time to visit the polls.

Sandra Andrews

Old Orchard Beach

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