The entire concept of powered personal vehicles is foul, and driving has many more serious effects than air pollution, or even than inspiring oil wars: It facilitates sprawl, which cannot exist in any significant form without the automobile; it requires more and more paving, which affects not only former wilderness but also watersheds and aquifers; it distorts social relations by isolating people from each other not only in cars but in the dispersed settlement patterns made inevitable by the need for roads, garages, and parking spaces; it diverts huge amounts of public money that could be spent on schools, libraries, parks, and thousands of other amenities toward paying for roads and associated policing; it fosters a delusion of independence that facilitates selfish and slovenly behavior; it eats up our time and money and turns us into unpaid chauffeurs for large parts of our lives.
Don’t boycott ExxonMobil; boycott all gas stations all the time. Walk, take a bus, get on the train or subway, move into town where the things you need are around the corner instead of five miles away. Rediscover your humanity: Get out of your car forever.
Los Angeles, Calif.
I was surprised you did not include Avon’s Skin-So-Soft Original Bath Oil in your roundup of insect repellents. I’ve used it successfully in the jungles of Costa Rica and at twilight in Hawaii with spectacular results (and I am usually the “mosquito magnet” in any crowd). Sure, you’ll smell like a cheap streetwalker (Avon, are you listening?), but that’s a small price to pay for bite-free bliss.
Of course, now that I pull out a bottle to read the ingredients, I’m wondering about all those chemicals in Skin-So-Soft: isopropyl padimate, dicapryl adipate, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate. Your thoughts?
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Re: The Corrections
I can’t reflect on this issue as an expert, but it seems that the motorbike industry is trying to head in the direction of cleaner, less-polluting engines. However, Myles brings up an interesting point that I consider important: Many people neglect the pollution and side effects caused by the manufacture of any product in viewing the environmental impacts. I agree with Myles that the substantially smaller manufacturing impact of motorbikes on the environment is worthwhile to consider; however, if a motorbike becomes a second vehicle in addition to a primary automobile, those positive qualities are totally negated by the combined manufacturing of both vehicles.
Re: Pledge to Buy an Eco-Friendly Car, Do Good
I would really love to buy an eco-friendly car, but until they become cheap used cars, there’s really no way I can. I’m a person on disability and could never afford the truly eco-friendly models that have come out. How are people with little money supposed to be able to help when they cannot afford to do so?
Lake Elmo, Minn.
What an upper! Ritu Primlani approaches her task as a gift, with love and joy. How often do I do that? Almost never. Time for an attitude change, I think.
“Open the cruise bay doors, HAL.”
My sense is that Hal Clifford attempts to disguise his inadequate knowledge and insufficient experience aboard cruise ships by making the unfair, pious, officious judgments he does against the author of Cruise Ship Blues. The public does not need another “balanced” view for “context.” It routinely gets such reminders from the cruisers, their spin-meisters, and lobbyists and others in their deep pockets.
Ross Klein has been indispensable in assisting all who hope to achieve positive, tangible, and long-lasting environmental change from the cruise ship industry. May Klein give us yet a third book on the industry. While we’re waiting, Hal should return to the slopes — something we’re told he knows something about. And for penance, Grist should undertake a feature on the growing, unfettered pollution dangers to marine ecology from cruise tourism. To do so, you’ll first need to apologize to Klein.
Gabriola Island, B.C., Canada
I was wondering if anyone might mention that cell phone cases could also be made of corn “plastic”? Having bought pens made of the stuff, I can vouch for its sturdiness (and it can come in different colors). If the cell phone companies really want to help the environment by limiting the impact of old phones, they should make them out of corn. And computer cases too, by the way!
San Antonio, Texas
Unfortunately, the corntainers do not break down easily or quickly in normal compost piles but must be heated to fairly high temperatures. Also, the stores ask that the corntainers be returned to their recycle bins only after they have been washed (free of compostable food material), which isn’t likely to happen with people who are not taking the containers home.
Bob and Yvonne Jones
The corntainers you mention in Daily Grist are made from corn that is genetically engineered. See this article from the Organic Consumers Association.
Re: Tough Cell
Admit it, Amanda: If Clinton had pushed this idea, it would be the best thing since sliced bread. You’re just anti-Bush and anything he proposes is “half-baked” in your book. If you don’t think about who is proposing it, it’s a good idea and certainly worth developing. Bush never said he had all the answers nor did he say hydrogen was the end to all our energy problems. What Bush has done is brought this issue to the forefront for discussion and focused efforts toward working on solutions. It won’t happen overnight and there are many hurdles. But let’s not let our Bush-bashing political views taint the issue or else our renewable-energy-based future will never come to fruition.
Last Friday’s Daily Grist had a blurb about the recovery of the Polynesian Megapode, a bird of tropical Pacific islands making a rebound after years on the brink of extinction. The article said this was “the Pacific’s last megapode.” I would like to point out that this is not so. There is also a Micronesian megapode, which is also desperately rare. It lives in Palau and the Mariana Islands and is similar to the Polynesian bird.
Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands