Letters to the Editor
Readers write about Everglades land acqusition, Islamic investment methods, and leaving the windows open.
Conservation takes farming reform, not just land buyout
In response to the Aug. 20 article, "US Sugar buyout: sweet deal for the Everglades?" As with most other articles on the topic, the story neglects to point out the central shortcoming of this and many other environmental land purchases – that farm buyouts simply move bad agricultural practices (water pollution and soil degradation) to some other location on the planet, thus allowing the continuation of environmental destruction on a global scale.
It is global, not local ecological degradation that is now most threatening to the Everglades and to the migratory species that use and characterize this special place.
Unless and until we dramatically transform our agricultural and energy practices, no ecosystem on this planet is truly protected by any local land purchases.
The pending land purchase could still be used to this end because some of the almost 200,000 acres of US Sugar lands will be used by the state for land swapping and lease-back programs. These surplus agricultural lands could be used by Florida and the nation as the proving grounds of an equally innovative public investment in fundamental agricultural transformation. If this happens, then this massive land purchase may be worth the cost – and help create new jobs to replace those thousands lost in the closing of US Sugar.
An Islamic view on loans and interest
Regarding Gary Moore's Aug. 12 Opinion piece, "Is charging interest sinful?" The piece deserves praise for its attempt to bridge a narrow but critical gap between Scriptures and modern finance on the issue of lending money.
From an Islamic perspective, the notion that a monetary lending agreement can be used for both investment and charity is simply naive.
Although Islamic principles see no wrong with sharing in the returns from helping someone or some organization be more productive, using a monetary lending agreement to do so is not the method of choice.
Under Islamic principles, money has no intrinsic value, it is only a medium of exchange. Therefore money cannot be sold for more money (i.e. charging interest on a loan). Loans are strictly meant for charity and not as investments. As a result, investment contracts are never currency-based, rather asset-backed or based on commodities. This would mean one would have to be more involved in an actual investment, either partnering with the individual who is looking to purchase a commodity, or buying a stake in an organization one is choosing to assist. The intended outcome from this methodology is the promotion of reasonable risk-sharing, along with sensible and responsible investment.
Benefits of natural air conditioning
Regarding Judy Walker's Aug. 11 Home Forum essay, "Out the window with air conditioning": I can't say that my wife and I never use air conditioning, but it is quite rare. We need to be in contact with our surroundings, even when this includes the "noise" of the outdoors: the morning cacophony of birds, the squeal of children wheeling through the neighborhood, neighbors knocking around, and even the rumble of traffic. The poet Rumi expresses a deeper benefit of such openness: "The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you...." Hearing these makes the occasional discomfort so much easier to bear.
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