A better way for Belfast

I have old, deep family roots in Belfast and I am coming back home to roost. I am middle-aged and have never lived outside Maine. It’s incorrect to characterize opponents of Nordic Aquafarms as being elites from away, as I am neither.

Technology is not going to “save” us. Nordic Aquafarms is not going to “feed the world” — the inputs required to grow these fish are not worth the investments. Corporations like NAF are part of the industrial food complex.

I’m beginning to understand how Nestle weaseled its way into our small Maine communities, with the help of the Absolute Dominion law (allows for mass water extraction by corporations) in Maine. I never would have believed that Belfast would be next in line to invite such exploitation, but here we are.

Belfast has, much to our credit contributed to keeping Sears Island more or less intact, kept the giant LPG tank out of Searsport, we now have a bag ban, we’ve kept the big box stores out, and city government recognizes climate change as a serious threat and is doing something about it.

For those who lament the gentrification of Belfast, NAF is the entity where you should be placing your ire. NAF would represent the the true gentrification of Belfast: salmon is at the wrong end of the food chain.

Sure, there might be a few jobs, but it’s just not worth it; NAF is a poor choice for Belfast. Comparing it to a sardine factory, or a textile factory or a chicken factory is a poor analogy of industries from a bygone era. NAF will mechanize as much as possible with very few employment opportunities compared to the factories of yesteryear. This is elitism at its finest.

I’ve pledged to no longer eat any animals that come from the sea.

Please check out greenwave.org, as this would be more in harmony with the city of Belfast.

Aimee Moffitt-Mercer

Belfast

Immense, senseless destruction

I struggle to understand my own species. The UN recently came out with a very dire climate report, warning us that we are rapidly rendering much of our planet unrecognizable and uninhabitable, and this information has gone largely ignored.

We are also wiping out entire species at an alarming rate, and many scientists believe we are causing the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history, but no one seems to be taking that seriously, either. It’s as though climate change and the suffering and extinction of other species are no concern of ours, and we will somehow be immune from their effects.

The human population is increasing. Those in power are putting politics, profit and personal gain before people and planet, dismissing science, lifting protections on endangered species and their habitats, and implementing policies that jeopardize our air and water and exacerbate climate change.

Consumers remain largely uninformed and apathetic about the impacts of their choices. Waste is piling up on land, and we’re depleting our oceans of fish and filling them with plastic.

We’re going through life as though our actions are inconsequential. As though we’re separate from nature and have no need for a healthy biosphere. As though our own personal needs, desires and conveniences, or those of humanity in general, are top priority, regardless of the consequences for other beings or for the planet itself. As though the problems we’re all creating are for someone else to fix.

And while most of us are genuinely outraged by animal abuse, we willingly support the most horrific cruelty and slaughter of billions of farmed animals every year, and by extension, millions of wild animals, whose habitats are destroyed and whose lives are brutally taken to accommodate cattle and sheep.

It is an extraordinary thing to be here, experiencing life on this planet, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. Yet I find my ability to fully enjoy it overshadowed by my heartbreak over the immense, senseless destruction and suffering we’re causing.

I tried convincing myself that in the grand scheme of things none of this matters — biodiversity eventually rebounds after a mass extinction, and the sun will swallow the Earth in 5 billion years or so, so whatever transpires on this planet is ultimately of no significance.

But what we do here does matter, because the suffering is very real, and we should prevent and alleviate that suffering whenever and wherever possible.

I know we are better and smarter than this. If we realized the full potential of our intelligence, and the infinite capacity of our compassion, there is no limit to the good we could do. And so, despite the deep ache that has taken up residence in my chest, I refuse to give up hope for a better tomorrow.

There are a lot of good people doing really important work, and I am so grateful to all of them, and to all of you, who are doing your part to make the world a better place.

Rebecca Tripp

Searsport

The actual threat to Penobscot Bay

Nordic Aquafarms recently responded to the article of Dec. 4 in the Boston Globe, claiming that “The volume of waste water discharge is irrelevant; it’s the content. The local sewage treatment plants’ allowable discharge is 30 milligrams per liter of total suspended solids and 30 milligrams per liter of biological oxygen demand — a measure of general pollutant load. Nordic Aquafarms’ discharge will be 6.3 milligrams per liter and 5.5 milligrams per liter, respectively — about one-sixth the amount other permits allow.”

NAF would have us believe that the total volume of its discharge is irrelevant and only the nutrient content per liter matters. We don’t dispute that the technology chosen by Nordic Aquafarms for its effluent filtration is seemingly the best available, and because of this, they are able to cite lower levels of nutrients per liter in their discharge permit application than are currently allowed in our own city wastewater treatment plant.

However, the volume of water proposed to be discharged from the NAF plant, 7.7 million gallons per day, is 15 times greater than that discharged by the city, containing 12 times more nitrogen.

Despite Nordic’s laudable low levels of nutrients per liter, they would overall contribute 3.4 times more total suspended solids to the bay, and 2.8 times more biological oxygen demand than our city.

To try to compare NAF’s proposed nutrient allowances to the city’s without considering volume is like saying that one pile of horse manure is equivalent in nutrient load to 15 piles of horse manure. It just does not add up. Dilution is not the solution.

If Nordic's intent is to produce a pure product for the discerning consumer who is both health-conscious and environmentally aware, the scale of its proposal makes these goals impossible to achieve.

Ellie Daniels, Co-Chairman

Local Citizens for SMART Growth

Open letter to Reade Brower

In my opinion, Lawrence Reichard's dismissal is big.

And Forest Taber — what a great loss!

The intelligent look at the contention between our mayor and the City Council in last week's guest column by the former Rockland mayor should be read by all. Giving up power — really facing what is happening in our world — the big issues. Women, young people  people of color are moving into leadership positions in our nation, and are stirring the pot. Good news, in my opinion.

And the bad news — climate change. It is the carbon footprint of a huge business like NAF's proposed fish factory that we need to look at. Climate crisis. The biggest issue facing all of us. Non-partisan. Affects everyone.

Mayor Paradis has formalized Belfast's commitment to studying climate change, so let's pay attention: Every industry we invite in must be looked at in terms of climate change. NAF, I believe, will not pass the test.

The International Salmon Farming Association reports that 2 billion kgs of farmed fish will produce 526 billion kgs of greenhouse gas emissions. Check their website. Do we really trust NAF and the currently decimated DEP to protect our environment?

Finally, I would suggest that Bev Roxby, who writes comprehensive letters to your paper about the environment, be offered a column as a public service.

Meredith Bruskin

Swanville

Help stop robocalls

Consumer Reports needs to reach 100,000 signatures on its petition to the FCC to use available technology to stop robocalls.

As of Dec. 13, 2018, 85,000 consumers have signed. Please go the the following site and add your signature: https://action.consumerreports.org/20181203_robocallspetition.

Michael Corden

Belfast