The United States needs a balanced market approach to energy concerns
The International Energy Agency is the undisputed authority on energy in the world. Recently, the IEA noted that there are not enough minerals available to produce the batteries needed to power the electric vehicles planned for global manufacturing over the next 15 years. This means that new mines will have to be found and developed, most of which need five years or more to be profitable. And, of course, mining is one of the most ecologically harmful human activities.
Then there is the fuel to generate electricity. In the United States, 36% comes from natural gas, 25% coal, 20% nuclear, 7% hydroelectric, and 12% solar and other renewables. The good news is that the use of clean natural gas has increased sharply in the last 40 years and we have a lot of it. The bad news is that President Biden stopped fracking on federal lands, a major source of our natural gas; he does not like pipes, although they are by far the cheapest and safest way to transport natural gas; the coal is out; and no nuclear plants have been approved in 20 years. So should we rely primarily on less reliable renewable energies to generate our electricity? What happens when the wind doesn’t blow and it’s cloudy?
We need a balanced energy market approach. We continue to take advantage of our easily accessible natural resources. We use renewable energy to the extent that they are economically viable. If the market decides to switch to electric vehicles, that’s fine. But government officials with political motives should not make market decisions for us. Is it very expensive when they are wrong and I guess you pay the price?
Tom Miller, Vero Beach
The statewide book distribution program will help develop children’s love of reading
To help Florida children get started successfully in adulthood, it is important that we invest in their growth and educational development. Literacy is an important part of it.
While child literacy was a concern long before 2020, the pandemic exacerbated the problem. Despite the unique circumstances, everyone went out of their way to support the young students. However, students across the state ran out of resources to help them achieve important educational goals, a problem too serious to wait until adulthood to solve. For struggling readers, having access to reading materials outside of school, in addition to studying in the classroom, can change the game.
That’s why I helped create the New Worlds Reading Initiative, the first book distribution program in the entire state of Florida, based on subscription and direct home services that help us get what we need.
New Worlds will provide home literacy support for elementary school students who read below grade level, at zero cost to families. Eligible students from kindergarten through fifth grade can get free book delivery to help cultivate a love of reading at an early age. Based on the most recent statewide assessment of English arts, more than 500,000 students would be eligible for the program.
The initiative will also provide support to parents as they walk alongside their children to improve their reading skills. After all, parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.
Helping Florida children read is critical to their academic success and development. Reading helps children communicate their emotions, develop social cues, and learn about the world around them, much-needed skills on the path to adulthood.
The New Worlds Reading Initiative can play an important role in helping to cultivate a love of learning. For Florida children and families, and for our state at large, money and time are well invested.
Dana Trabulsy, Fort Pierce, is the District 84 representative at Florida House.
Check children during the summer for resistance after COVID-19
As we continue to face the devastating impacts of COVID-19, focusing on mental health is more important than ever.
Over the past year, Tykes & Teens has seen:
• A 300% increase in demand for services
• Clients with high-risk symptoms, such as suicidal ideation and self-harming behaviors, have doubled
• The duration of treatment increases from six to eight months
Over the next six months, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression will continue. According to The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2021), “the most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least a stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.”
How can parents keep their children engaged during the summer and prepare for school in the fall?
• Start with self-care and listen to those around us.
• Observe your child’s behaviors and look for sudden changes in behaviors. Get to know the 10 “Moms for Mental Health” red light warning signs.
• Talk to your children about behaviors and emotions together. A variety of resources are available at www.tykesandteens.org/paint-the-town-green/.
• Grief processing may require several stages and children may benefit from the use of art or other nonverbal techniques.
• Follow a routine and trust the process when you return to school or activities.
• Use a thermometer to know when stress increases.
• Most importantly, know that there is hope and that children are very resilient. With your support, they can emerge from the pandemic strong and in good mental health.
For more information on how you can help children’s mental health, visit www.tykesandteens.org/donate-now/.
Eric Garza, MHA, LCSW, is the CEO of Tykes & Teens, a nonprofit child health agency.