Re: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

Dear Editor:

As an educator in a Canadian school, I was very interested in this article. I had the pleasure of traveling in South America in the early 1980s. The beauty of the Andes and the surrounding jungle has stayed with me in the years since my travels, so I was shocked to learn what the future might hold for this region.

What distresses me the most is the rapidity of these changes and the consequences they will have on fragile environments. I think it’s time to stop closing our eyes to the catastrophe of global climate change and do something. I don’t think we have an idea of how serious this issue is and how seriously it will affect our future. It’s time our politicians start to make this issue a priority.

Jacques Dion

Palmerston, Ontario, Canada

Re: Furious George, by

Dear Editor:

How ironic that President Bush and his band of environmental terrorists are stepping up the war on eco-terrorists. This bunch and their attacks on the environment at the behest of big money, big oil, and their Saudi business partners are a threat to our world. We need to unite and vote them out at every opportunity.

Ed Thomas

Kinnear, Wyo.

Re: Furious George

Dear Editor:

Please assure me that this news summary was not slightly ridiculing the government’s use of Sept. 11 to go after eco-terrorists. It almost made eco-terrorists look good, or at least less bad than Al Qaeda terrorists, and undeserving of pursuit by the feds.

I have been working in the environmental movement for a long time and have come to believe that eco-terrorists only set back our cause. Acts of destruction that hurt people and property are not acceptable ways to advance the environmental movement, which at its core should be about peace and making the world a better place for everyone. If the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front ceased to exist, I can’t see how that would be a bad thing. And personally, I don’t care if the government seeks to put an end to their destructive, useless tactics. Please make sure that your articles don’t even smack of supporting violence as an environmental tool.

Laura Tam

New Haven, Conn.

Re: Safety Dance, Part One

Dear Editor:

The article “Safety Dance” states that U.S. Navy Cutters patrol the Hudson River and implies that the patrols include Indian Point. It also states that the Air Force patrols the skies over Indian Point. Many of us do not believe that this is true.

We do not see any patrol boats. The other week, Richard Kennedy, a Fox network reporter, rented a four-seater Cesna airplane and flew back and forth over the Indian Point nuclear power plant for 20 minutes at 2,000 feet. There was no response. If this had been a terrorist plane, it would have had all the time it needed to crash into the plant.

After Sept. 11, a Coast Guard cutter patrolled near Indian Point for a while, but then ceased operations, apparently because there was not enough money in the budget to provide extended security to the plant amid all the other demands on the Coast Guard. For a while there was a no-fly zone established over the plant, but this too was rescinded when commercial airlines complained that it was too burdensome. At the moment, I believe there is a ruling in effect that aircraft must remain above 2,000 feet in the vicinity of the plant. As the test the other day demonstrated, no one is enforcing this ruling.

My point is that Indian Point, as well as other nuclear plants, are more unsafe than even your excellent article indicates they are.

The title of your article is apt. The safety dance is a dance to occupy our attention while no real safety measures are put in place. The priorities are elsewhere.

Tom Baldino

Beacon, N.Y.

Re: Safety Dance, Part One

Dear Editor:

The article states: “Yet many people — and especially people in the small town of Buchanan, N.Y., where the power station is located — still worry that terrorists could turn Indian Point into a nuclear bomb.”

This is not true. People know that Indian Point cannot blow up like a bomb. This is a poorly written anti-nuclear power article.

John Hughes

San Clemente, Calif.

Re: Con Trails

Dear Editor:

I am usually too busy to read any but the most important parts of Grist, like those ultra-important climate change stories.

This time, though, the as-usual-well-written blurb in the Daily Grist got my attention. You probably thought this “Ask Umbra” column was quite risky (or Fisk-y, in this case). In my opinion, it is a great thing — we need more like it to help sustain us in the sometimes grim work we do.

John Atkeison

Wilmington, Del.

Re: Sharri Baby

Dear Editor:

Thanks for pointing me to the article on Kosovo foes uniting over environmental concerns, by Alfred Hermida. It is certainly encouraging to hear that Albanians and Serbians are working together peacefully on this project, and that they are doing something to help the environment.

My only complaint is that Hermida makes no mention of the tremendous environmental damage caused by the NATO bombing campaign through the bombing of chemical factories and the use of radioactive depleted uranium. It is estimated that up to 5,000 civilians in Yugoslavia were killed during the 78-day NATO bombing, and the environmental effects of the depleted uranium will certainly be felt for many generations to come.

Hermida implies that all the environmental damage was caused by ethnic conflict. I’m sure that ethnic fighting did cause environmental damage, but the U.S. and NATO, with their high-tech weapons of mass destruction, are capable of causing much more devastating, far-reaching, and long-lasting damage.

Any serious attempt to clean up the environment in Yugoslavia should include filing lawsuits against the NATO countries that participated in the bombing to require them to provide money and resources to clean up the damage they caused and to compensate the victims.

Nancy A. Hey

Bethesda, Md.

Re: I’ll Stop the World from Melting with You

Dear Editor:

Ben Cohen’s article was very informative and covered a lot of ground. If only more people felt that way, what a wonderful country the U.S. would be now and in years to come.

I had the pleasure of visiting Ben & Jerry’s plant about 12 years ago. Wonderful place and man — plus real ice cream.

Helen Patton Gray

Menasha, Wis.

Re: I’ll Stop the World from Melting with You

Dear Editor:

I was appalled at the hypocrisy of this article. As you must know, Ben & Jerry’s was sold to Unilever, one of the most criminal multinationals on the planet, and the one that supports the pilot whale hunt in the Faroes Islands. The effect of your article is to suggest that Ben & Jerry’s is a company to support, rather than one, since its sale, to boycott.

Virginia Smith

North Saanich, British Columbia, Canada

Re: I’ll Stop the World from Melting with You

Dear Editor:

Thanks for the article referring to the Ben & Jerry’s organization that helps fight global warming and pollution by urging people to reduce their use of non-renewable resources. However, I often feel that environmentalists and polluting corporations are caught in a “rugby scrum” — that is, we gain a few yards one way and lose a few yards the other (with the corporations making most of the gains). Somehow we must think beyond the scrum to save our planet.

I believe that the quickest way to do this is to abolish the tax code as we know it. Our current tax code is certainly a mess; corporations like Enron get by without paying a dime and oil polluters are given massive subsidies. What we need is a tax code that taxes the “bads” and not the “goods.” If you consider income, wages, savings, and capital investment to be “good” things, why tax them? Let’s tax the bad stuff instead: pollution and depletion of non-renewable natural resources.

How many people would be willing to raise taxes on pollution and depletion if their income tax and other taxes were eliminated? I believe that politicians would quickly jump on this bandwagon once it gained momentum. We need a march on Washington with one major theme: abolishing the tax code — and replacing it with a tax on depletion and pollution. Let’s go!

Paul Justus

Fayetteville, Ark.

Re: Buffalo Soldiers, Best of the Rest

Dear Editor:

I’ve seen ranchers kill bison. I’ve seen their beautiful massive bodies sink to the ground and their enormous heads loll over. It is a horrendous waste of life. The Buffalo Soldiers are remarkable and this story should have a broader audience. I am going to try to figure out how I can help these folks from out here on the East Coast.

Chris Schadler

Strafford, N.H.

Re: Balancing the Book

Dear Editor:

Former Vice President Al Gore may have been right when he said, of environmental protection, that, “The minimum that is scientifically necessary far exceeds the maximum that is politically feasible.” That’s not something that any of us should be glad of, but perhaps it can be an incentive to do what we can to educate the public at large that global warming and other environmental dangers are real.

I read Gore’s book in 2000 and it turned me from a passive Gore supporter into an activist. He is the man to lead us into an environmentally sustainable future.

William R. Schreiber

South Portland, Maine

Re: A Tale of Two Mayors

Dear Editor:

Just wanted to say that the Bogota profile was inspiring. I’ve sent it to every councilor in our city.

Ilona Biro

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Re: Bananarama

Dear Editor:

Elizabeth Sawin tells a very important story about our food system. We need to know the history behind our food (and other products we purchase) in order to make beneficial choices for society, the environment, and our health.

E. F. Schumacher addressed this need in Small is Beautiful, in which he suggests that small local economies (in which you can see the production methods) would solve most of our social and environmental problems.

The problems with conventional agriculture and our global food system are complex, but the solution is straightforward, easy, and available to most of us right now. Buy directly from a local organic grower. Do this either by going to your local farmer’s market (don’t be afraid to ask questions or even visit the farm) or by joining Community Supported Agriculture.

A CSA is a relationship with a local organic farm in which you pay in advance for weekly shares of the farm’s produce throughout the growing season. Of course there are many benefits beyond knowing where your food comes from — taste being my favorite.

Check out this website to find a CSA near you.

Thank you, and good eating!

Julie Hudson

Waymart, Penn.