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Global warming raising price of coffee

The former Prentice Women's Hospital Streeterville.  |  Al Podgorski~Sun-Times

The former Prentice Women's Hospital in Streeterville. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 29, 2012 6:51AM

We often we think of global warming’s impacts as happening “over there,” “later on” or, worse, not at all. Well, this Saturday — International Coffee Day — we have a chance to ponder one impact that is as close to home as your morning cup of joe.

Higher temperatures, drought, intense rainfall, more resilient pests and plant disease, all associated with global warming, are — right now — driving down premium coffee yields and increasing coffee prices world-wide.

Costa Rican coffee production has plunged by 44 percent since 2000 because of rising temperatures and correlated coffee borer beetle infestations. Ethiopia and India’s Karnataka’s region have experienced similar losses.

Of course, coffee farmers in those countries will feel the impact of those losses most acutely, but you can bet that increased coffee scarcity will spike prices and limit your choices of daily wake-me-up drinks.

Global warming’s consequences are here and now; they are finding their way into our everyday lives. Fortunately, we can do something about it. The Obama administration is working to finalize the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The EPA should finalize this rule to reduce global warming pollution and speed our transition to clean, renewable energy sources.

Seth Berkman

Federal Field Associate

Environment Illinois

Preserve Prentice hospital

Columnist Neil Steinberg clearly wants to see the historic Prentice Hospital go. Many other people think it’s a stunning building.

I applaud Mr. Steinberg for criticizing Northwestern’s “ham-handed efforts to sell tearing down Prentice.” But his column creates some misconceptions that need to be corrected.

First, 41 respected architects from Chicago have called on Northwestern to preserve and reuse Prentice.

Second, reuse options abound for this building. A 2011 study by Landmarks Illinois establishes that the building could be repurposed to serve medical research, office or administrative functions, or even be a hotel or luxury apartments. All that’s missing is the will to consider those options seriously.

Christina Morris

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Murders out of control

On Sept. 19, I turned 14 years old. I ate at my favorite restaurant. I went to Gamestop. And I buried my uncle.

Six days earlier, Miguel Cruz Jr. had become another victim of Chicago street gang violence. He was not blood related to me, but I respectfully called him uncle, because we were family in our hearts .I submitted a letter to the Chicago Sun-Times a few weeks ago calling my generation “Generation Grief” because Chicago youth are in a continuous loop of grief with the rising murder rate among our peers. We are now beyond feeling numb. Now it is a sense of hopelessness and despair. It is like an influenza pandemic with bullets instead of viruses. Without a doubt, someone you know will be murdered on the streets of Chicago.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy wants to minimize the seriousness of the situation by saying the media does not report the whole story of the victims. He says a 13-year-old murdered a few weekends ago was involved in a shootout at 1 a.m. He wants to convince us that these murder victims are gang-bangers, associated with gang-bangers, related to gang-bangers or know a gang-banger. Show me someone in Humboldt Park who doesn’t know a gang-banger. Or Garfield Park. Austin. Englewood. Would that make their murder any less tragic? My uncle was not a gang-banger. He was an artist and musician. He was my mentor. He taught me to see the beauty in plain and simple things. He taught me to ride a bike.

Chicago City officials’ strategy to combat Chicago street violence seems to be to convince the public that the murder victims are shady characters, so Chicago residents won’t panic at the rising murder rate. My uncle was murdered around the corner from where I live. The panic is already here.

Brendan Totten, Pilsen

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