Readers talk back about hookers, condoms, and biofuels
I thought your statement that Cheney and the energy task force treat ecosystems like a “two-bit hooker” was inappropriate, unseemly, slanderous, and entirely out of line. I’m sure those guys treat their hookers much better than that.
Re: Buenos Bios
Biofuels are demonstrably a dead end. Turning corn, soybeans, and sunflowers into fuel uses much more energy than the resulting ethanol or biodiesel generates, according to a recent study by David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell, and Tad W. Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Berkeley. They conducted a detailed analysis of the energy input-yield ratios of producing ethanol from corn, switch grass, and wood biomass as well as for producing biodiesel from soybean and sunflower plants.
What am I missing here? Is Edmundo Defferrari’s process some sort of breakthrough that, miraculously, yields more energy than is consumed in the planting, fertilizing, harvest, and production?
Re: Buenos Bios
Running engines off of recycled cooking oil is great, but there’s just not enough to run all our cars and trucks. And not only do biofuels release carbon, their monocrop cultivation tends to occur along with unsustainable agricultural practices and, especially in South America, massive deforestation to make room for the new crops — which results in huge losses of biomass and oxygen production, erosion, habitat destruction, extinction of species and, oh yeah, the release of a huge amount of carbon. Someone remind me again why this is supposed to be environmentally beneficial?
Editor’s note: You can find more discussion on biofuels in Gristmill, Grist‘s blog.
Re: Coal Reversal
Re: Coal Reversal
How long can we be self-righteous about coal? With the International Energy Agency predicting world energy need will increase by 60 percent over the next 25 to 30 years, it’s clear that to balance legitimate development and environmental considerations, the world will need clean coal, safe and affordable nuclear, reliable and affordable renewables, and increased energy efficiency. With the possible exception of the last, which requires massive societal attitude shift across many cultures, none of these options is either cheap or easily achievable. We should be encouraging the coal people to come on board the climate-change battle, not slamming them because they’re coal.
Editor’s note: You can find more discussion on coal in Gristmill, Grist‘s blog.
Re: DEP Thoughts
It is wonderful to hear such forward thinking from Kathleen McGinty, head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. However, actions speak louder than words. The “alternative energy” portfolio standard that McGinty praises is actually the first to include fossil fuels.
Pennsylvania’s bill claims the state will have 18 percent “alternative” energy generation by 2020, but well under 8 percent will actually be clean (non-combustion) renewables such as low-impact hydro, solar, or wind. In fact, by simply purchasing out-of-state hydro, significant wind and solar development can be avoided altogether! The lion’s share of “alternative” energy will be produced using waste coal and newly mined coal in gasification plants that will cause acid rain and increase atmospheric CO2.
Of course McGinty may not be in the position to leverage the politics in her state, where the coal industry has such strong influence. She should be applauded for her efforts on cutting mercury emissions, and it should be pointed out that she has signed on with attorney generals from four downwind states who are suing the owners of three antiquated coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania for violating the Clean Air Act and contributing to acid rain downwind.
I’d like to clear up a big misconception about California’s 11th district, which your article repeated: that the district is made up “largely of conservative ranching and agricultural communities.” That was true 30 years ago. The district has changed over the years. It can now be more accurately described as a Bay Area exurb. Very little of the population depends on agriculture for their jobs, and a large and growing percentage of the working population are transplanted from the Bay Area counties.
If you want proof that these aren’t automatic conservative areas, check the election returns for 2004. Barbara Boxer won a clear majority in Pombo’s district. Not exactly knee-jerk conservative voters. The fact is that people in the district don’t know much about Richard Pombo. Polls show that when they learn about him, they don’t like him.
But the article got the most important fact right: If we are to protect our environment and open space and create the bright future of sustainable opportunity we all deserve, we need to defeat Richard Pombo in November.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was Jerry McNerney’s second campaign manager in 2004, and I’m helping him raise money for his campaign in ’06.
I am an environmentalist who truly is trying to make the world a better place in many ways. I am unsubscribing to all of your lists because I am tired of the Bush bashing.
While I do not agree with much of what this administration is doing, I do not see anything positive coming out of the hate-filled speech I find on your site. When did we leave our core values and start being so mean and nasty? Why not engage in positive discussion of change and growth, rather than the hate speech we condemn them for? We can make this world better by not only cleaning the environment, but by cleaning our thoughts and minds of hate — all hate, and all hate speech. Stop the hypocrisy.
Please walk down to the dark basement that Umbra spends all her time in and give her a big hug for all the folks that end up dealing with condoms in the sewage treatment systems! Not only did her column make me snicker, it brings up a great point about the stuff people flush down toilets.
Condoms are actually one of the things that those in the wastewater business can do something about with screens and choppers. Unfortunately, the extra equipment required to fix these problems costs money — money that comes from your taxes and sewer bills, to be specific. Maybe our bills would be smaller if we quit flushing trash?
While we’re at it, let’s also stop flushing expired and unwanted medications down the toilet. These things very often cannot be removed by wastewater systems and end up in the environment. See if your local pharmacy has a take-back program, and if not, the landfill is a better option than flushing.
North Bend, Wash.
Umbra writes, “Every question I answer about recycling small consumer items — including condoms — simply encourages us all to keep worrying about recycling small consumer items. I know I’m not supposed to say this, but who cares? I mean, why spend energy on condom disposal when we could spend it on G. W. Bush disposal?”
Who cares? You should. When did Grist become big business? When did grassroots stop mattering to environmentalism? If people don’t care about recycling small consumer items, why should they care about getting rid of Bush?
If you want to help the world by answering readers’ questions, you really ought to be answering those “little important ones.” They tend to have the most achievable solutions associated with them. That’s where it starts. Actually, who cares about the big issues in this forum? Your readers already know where to put their vote.
Could you get serious? This is a waste of my time, which is not recyclable.
Re: Coal Reversal
You describe technology that “filters carbon dioxide and smog-causing pollutants from the gas before burning it.” Other pollutants can be removed before burning, but carbon dioxide is a product of burning and has to be removed from the flue gas after combustion.
With a rant like that, no wonder John Kurmann doesn’t have a wife. Jeesh.
Re: Going Down
One of the reasons that population is not discussed more often is that it usually is spoken of in terms of numbers. However, it’s not just how many children one has, but how they (and you) live. The deeper issue is consumption. Someone who builds a huge mansion but has no children has a more negative effect on the planet than a peasant family with five children. The real problem in the developed countries is not just how many people there are, but the way we all live.
While population needs to stabilize and trend downward, it is more important that the consumption practices of the West are addressed. The houses full of unused stuff, the three cars per family, and the suburban lifestyle are a large part of what is killing the planet.
Editor’s note: Find lots more discussion on population in Gristmill, Grist‘s blog.
You have Hanukkah commemorated a couple times, but no real Christmas, which is not just a tree-hugging event. I’m really disappointed in you.
Mary A. Bodde
Is Isaac Berzin married, and if not would he like to be (and subsequently produce children)? There has to be some sort of moral carbon credit to justify having kids if you’ve just implemented an algal-based filtration system.
Name Not Provided