EDITOR: The combined wealth of the sixth through 10th richest
humans on Planet Earth is in excess of $100 billion.

The combined wealth of the sixth through 10th richest humans on Planet Earth is in excess of $100 billion. According to Forbes Magazine these five people are all heirs to the founder of WalMart. A billion is a thousand million. Bill Gates is only half as rich as the Waltons at $46 billion. Nine zeros after the 4 and 6.

According to Fortune Magazine, WalMart Corp. is the largest business in America and the world. The company is almost more gigantic than Ford and IBM combined, and about four times bigger than the U.S. Post Office.

Morgan Hill has a population of under 40,000. A 4 with only four zeros, but nearly half are either children or older folks. Morgan Hill’s air quality has been graded by the EPA as among the very worst in the northern half of the state. Studies published in the Los Angeles Times indicate that schools in polluted areas lose state funding when sick kids are unable to breathe and miss school days due to asthma. Schools are only paid by the state for days a child attends.

A lawsuit was just filed against the City of Gilroy because it allowed a new Super WalMart that required an exemption from state and federal air quality laws. Gilroy WalMart did not comply with these laws. But a lawsuit challenging an Environmental Impact Report exemption would be hard to prosecute against Gilroy if WalMart was leading the environmental cleanup in the Gavilan Valley.

The WalMart Corp. was asked, in a petition signed by hundreds of Gilroyans – almost all non union, to install solar voltaic electrical generation panels on its new building so it could better comply with the law before it sought its exemption. The new WalMart building is perhaps the largest structure in area history. It’s being built on a farm, a few miles directly north of the last remaining natural wildlife land bridge across Santa Clara Valley and a riparian wetland. WalMart declined the extra upfront cost for clean solar energy.

The cost to WalMart to clean the valley’s air with homemade solar power replacing fossil fuel emissions from an electric power plant nearby, would have been about equal to what Morgan Hill schools and taxpayers will lose this year if every local child misses just one extra day of classes.

The long-term respiratory health effects on little kids growing up in Morgan Hill won’t be known for a decade or two, but property values and home sales may start declining much sooner when buyers learn the area is dead last in air pollution statistics. The lawsuit against Gilroy could be settled and money saved if WalMart agreed to make its own clean energy and pay no power bills. Free power from the sun is good for corporate profits, good for everyone’s health, and a good example anyone can admire.

Some numbers to ponder and maybe something to inspire kids now when we need it most.

Chris Coté,

Hollings Cartaway Foundation

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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