Letters from fifth-graders: Young La Jollans speak out about golf-course water waste, seals at Children's Pool, sea lions at The Cove, Electoral College, equal pay for female soccer players and other topics

Our Readers Write / Opinion / Letters to the Editor:

Fifth-grade students from Torrey Pines Elementary School in La Jolla speak out on local issues and topics of concern:

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•••• Golf courses waste too much water

In summer, an average golf course like Torrey Pines Golf Course uses around 1 million gallons of water per week, and spends over $500,000! This is an outrageous amount, especially during a drought. The amount of water that could be saved from not watering the acres of a golf course would be massive. Now, I understand that golf wouldn't be nearly as good without real grass, but why not make better replicas of real grass in synthetics? It would mean bigger and better golf courses.

If that's not possible, then listen to this: annually, they use about 40 percent more water than they need to use to maintain a healthy appearance. If we could make a stand and convince golf courses to only use the water they need, the water could be used to benefit those who need it more than the golf courses.

Governor Jerry Brown has the right idea in cutting 25 percent water off of practices deemed wasteful, but he needs to do more. He needs to attack the golf courses' water usage like he did to the farmers. Jerry Brown is big on water saving during the drought, yet he needs to direct his efforts elsewhere.

The water that is being used to make golf courses look pretty and green could be used for better purposes, and I think someone needs to talk to golf course managers to put a stop to this mass waste. Their narcissistic behavior is unacceptable. If it is going to waste gallons of water, then maybe no one should play golf at all. — Isaac McGreevy

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•••• Don't remove seals from Children's Pool

I find it immoral that people from the coast, a place where much sea life exists, would be so nefarious as to want to uproot innocent seals from their biosphere. How it is legal for lifeguards to use jets, plywood, sprinklers, air horns, strobe lights, starter pistols, electric fencing, slingshots and rubber bullets to shove Mother Nature's creatures from the depths of their ocean homes? By doing this, it shows we humans are the real "animals."

The San Diego Union-Tribune issued a poll on whether we should work on removing seals from Children's Pool. The results came back at 63 percent wanting them to stay. In another poll in 2007, 80 percent of people surveyed said Children's Pool should be for animal observation, not swimming. When I think of La Jolla, I think of beaches galore. Why can't we give a small beach to our local marine life?

This outrageous misconduct to one of our local animal species is somehow legal, yet the percentages show a majority favoring the beach to be exclusively for seals. The people of San Diego have decided, why should removing them even be an option anymore? — Avery Redfern

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•••• La Jolla seals and sea lions should be left alone

I am a 10-year-old student at Torrey Pines Elementary. I am still surprised that humans can be so ignorant and cruel to our fellow sea creatures at the Children's Pool in La Jolla. Our seals and sea lions are family to the La Jolla community. They have been in the area for longer than any of us. People continue to complain about the smell coming from The Cove. The stench is perfectly normal as an animal trait.

Humans scrape down forests and chop down trees just to build shopping malls and useless stadiums that we do not need! I understand there have been complaints and lawsuits about the smell. Some hotels in the area have reported that somewhere around 20 percent of their customers have checked out in minutes because of it. However, we destroy the land and drive away animals to build these hotels. The marine animals of La Jolla Cove deserve to stay firmly where they are. These poor sea creatures should be left alone. They deserve equal rights, like us. — Rena Li

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•••• Increase minimum driving age to 18

I am a 10-year-old student at Torrey Pines Elementary, and I believe it is time for people to take action by changing the legal driving age to 18, so we can save hundreds of lives. If you were asked the question if you wanted to drive at the age of 16, your first answer would be yes, but would you want to risk your life just to drive a vehicle?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75 percent of unintentional injuries leading to deaths are due to car accidents. Sixteen-year-olds can be distracted easily with their mobile devices, and since many teenagers are focused on texting their friends, it could lead them to be seriously injured.

Also, a 16-year-old is not fully sophisticated; they don't realize their reflexes and hand-eye coordination aren't fully developed. Studies show the prefrontal cortex is not fully mature at 16, but it will be more ready to make good judgments at 18. The prefrontal cortex is a part of your brain that controls your emotions and forms judgment. This shows that a 16-year-old will make a decision without thinking about it much increasing his or her chance to crash.

When 16-year-olds drive, not only will they be endangering their life, but also the people around them. In the United States each year, nearly 2,000 teenagers die from car crashes and more than 200,000 people are injured. Therefore, 18 is a better age for a teenager to drive.

Now, if someone asked you the question if you wanted to drive at the age of 16, how would you answer? Remember, you could be one of the people who get seriously injured or even die because of a car crash each year. — Chris Ruff

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•••• Eliminate the Electoral College system

There have been five people who didn't win the popular vote, but did win the Electoral College (one exception was one who won neither) and still became president. Why would the United States of America use such a flawed system?

You may argue that states decide the presidency or that a candidate should only have to run a campaign in certain states to garner votes, but you are wrong. 48 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia have a winner-take-all system instead of dividing the vote up like Maine or Nebraska. With this system, a person can win the presidency without the popular vote. And there are roughly 246 electors who can vote for someone besides the winner of the state they vote for. This system is broken and outdated. If it ever had a reasonable point for its existence, it is long gone now.

Then again, if we can't eliminate the Electoral College altogether, we can change some of its ridiculous rules. First, no winner-take-all states whatsoever. This way, the people have more of a voice in the election, not a slim majority in key states.

Next, electors can't be faithless. What I mean is that electors have to vote for the state's choice, instead of all the faithless electors and 34 other non-faithless electors possible choosing the election; the people should choose the election.

I say we scrap the Electoral College altogether so that a new election system can be implemented. No more electors! Instead, each person has one vote. This vote should be counted with every other vote from the American people and then the candidate with the most votes becomes the President of the United States of America.

See, was that so hard? No, it wasn't. — Simon Lewis

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•••• Female soccer players deserve equal pay

It is outrageous our society can be so sexist against women. I have learned U.S. female professional soccer players make a lot less than half the amount males make for completing the same task. U.S. women's professional soccer players should earn the same, if not more than men's soccer players.

First, female soccer players earn $99,000 a year, provided that they win at least 20 exhibition matches. Males, on the other hand, would earn $263,000 for winning the same amount of games. Consequently, they would still earn $100,000 if the team lost all 20 games.

Women receive no extra pay for winning any additional matches above 20, while the men earn anywhere in between $5,000 and $17,625 for each match above 20.

It is for these reasons that I strongly believe U.S. women's professional soccer players should be paid the same as men. We should all be appalled at the inequality we seem to support. Shame on us! — Sophie Boxwala

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•••• Animal testing is wrong and wasteful

I am a 10-year-old student at Torrey Pines Elementary School. I have noticed there is a gigantic problem with animal testing in Southern California and around the world. I know that animal testing is wrong and we don't deserve to treat these animals unfairly. After all, they also have rights.

To support my opinion, I read an article in the Huffington Post that increased my awareness of this drastic issue facing our world. I learned chimpanzees were tested on for the use of a vaccine for hepatitis. A chimp's babies were used and taken away from their mother. Once they stopped breeding her, she was locked into a basement with no contact with the outside world.

It scares me to read about the damage we cause to other living beings, just to solve our own problems and to survive. The facts clearly prove that animal testing is wasteful, unreliable, not needed, and wrong. — Kyla Knight

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•••• Opposed to orcas in captivity at SeaWorld

I am a 10-year-old student at Torrey Pines Elementary School, and I believe that it is shocking and unbearable to see orcas sitting in their undersized tank where they have a limited amount of space to swim. Therefore, these beautiful predators should not be kept in SeaWorld or captivity.

Male orcas' lifespan is 60 to 70 years, and female orcas can live to be over 100 years. That is special. But in SeaWorld, the average age of death of an orca is 13 years. Only 13 years to live! Isn't that sad?

Also, there is a limited distance they can swim in their bathtub-sized tank each day, and this is bad for their health. Orcas would need to swim 1,208 laps around the perimeter of the tank to match the miles they swim every day in the wild.

Finally, because orcas are forced to live with other orcas in SeaWorld, they get into fights. In the wild, though, they stay away from other orcas that aren't their family. But in aquatic tanks, there is nowhere for these whales to go, and eventually orcas will get into fights with one another.

Now let me ask you a question, "Do you want orcas to continue living like this with injuries and death falling upon them so quickly, or do you want them to live a long happy life in the wild?" SeaWorld should stop keeping orcas in their tanks. Please help these amazing, magnificent creatures. — Gaby Rebeiz

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•••• What's on YOUR mind?

• Letters published in La Jolla Light express views and comments from readers in regard to community issues. To share your thoughts in this public forum, e-mail them with your name and city of residence to editor@lajollalight.com or mail them to La Jolla Light Editor, 565 Pearl St., Suite 300, La Jolla, CA 92037. Letters reflect the writer's views and do not necesarily represent opinions of the newspaper staff or publisher.

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