Ashok to the System

Re: Tax On, Tax Off, by

Dear Editor:

If the NRDC’s Ashok Gupta really thinks we need leaders who can tell Americans why higher gas prices are good for them, then Gupta needs to go intern for some mayor’s campaign somewhere. Or pick up a day-after-election newspaper and see what’s happening to school levies. In other words, get real. Ralph Nader told us all what was good for us in 2000. But, if anything, his actual influence on American policy was cataclysmically negative. Politics is the art of the doable.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

David Scott

Columbus, Ohio

Moonbeam on Gipper

Re: How Green Was the Gipper?, by

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Dear Editor:

I was watching a local interview of Jerry Brown describing Ronald Reagan’s impact on California as governor. And I think you would agree that Jerry Brown is extremely “left.” But, in this interview, Brown spoke very adamantly when he said that although Reagan was the man that unseated his very own father as California governor, not to mention a Republican, Reagan was extremely good to the environment while in California. Brown described Reagan’s contributions in very detailed terms, the extent of his policies and accomplishments, and went on to say that although he didn’t understand what happened during Reagan’s presidency, with regard to his governorship, most contemporary Democrats and Republicans alike really miss the mark.


San Francisco, Calif.

Death Be Not Loud

Re: How Green Was the Gipper?, by

Dear Editor:

I thought that Amanda’s article on President Reagan was inappropriate. Death is a time to celebrate a person’s life — not criticize it and especially not a time to bring up politics. It doesn’t matter what the Republican right is saying — Amanda should have taken a high road.

The article was well-written and I agree with its points — it was just inappropriate.

Steve Segrest

Tampa, Fla.

Tell It Like It Is, Girlfriend

Re: How Green Was the Gipper?, by

Dear Editor:

How refreshing and necessary to finally see in print what I feel inside. The hullabaloo this week for Reagan’s passing leaves me feeling empty, angry, and downright abused! Distortions aside, what is his legacy? I heard mentioned on the radio yesterday that many were paying respects because Reagan was the first president they can recall from their youth. Though that’s an acceptable reason to mourn and offer respect, I find it incomprehensible how the leap is made to placing his image on currency.

Shame on this country for its self-perpetuated ignorance and gleeful lack of regard for the world around it!

Claire Hurst

Indianapolis, Ind.

We Hate Critters!

Re: Hair-Raising News, by

Dear Editor:

I would never give financial or any other kind of support to an organization that would ask for, or advocate, safety/toxicity testing of personal-care products. This type of testing would include animal testing. Toxicity studies on animals are egregiously cruel, and yield very unreliable results for a variety of obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, and therefore are a waste — not to mention the damage to the environment caused by facilities that carry out this type of testing. Is your organization not concerned with the environmental damage caused by these facilities?

For the facts regarding the testing/safety of products for “personal care,” which your article so poorly addresses, I highly recommend the National Anti-Vivisection Society website.

Karen O’Donell

Little Rock, Ark.

Renewable Haiti

Re: 10 Things I Haiti About You, by

Dear Editor:

Concerning the deforestation in Haiti to provide cooking fuel: For much less cost than building infrastructure around propane, the international community could help Haiti develop renewable energy sources and provide jobs. The two best alternatives for Haiti would probably be biogas and simple solar cookers. Using local materials, solar cookers can be fashioned out of clay shaped into a parabolic dish and covered with aluminum foil. The parabolic dish focuses the sun’s rays on a cooking pot suspended above the dish.

Vicki Watson

University of Montana

Biogas systems require a bigger investment and a little more technology, but not much. And building these systems provides jobs for workers with minimal education, reducing several problems at once. The best solutions are the simplest and those that can be carried out by the local people themselves with just a little investment from the international community.


Re: Andy Kerr, National Public Lands Grazing Campaign, by

Dear Editor:

I differ slightly with Andy Kerr on whether trees grow fast enough for timber companies. It’s not very obvious, but plant growth is logarithmic, not linear. The bigger the plant, the faster it grows, until it runs out of some nutrient (light, CO2, water, nitrogen, warm weather, etc.). The slowest growth is therefore when the plant is smallest — seedlings. One solution used by plants is larger seeds — acorns and chestnuts instead of pine nuts. Another is vegetative propagation. A timber company in Oregon might import foot-high pine or Douglas fir seedlings grown in a tropical country and save 10 or 20 years of growth time.

I live on the Atlantic coast (Maryland), where many farmers are planting crops of loblolly pine (leaving a field fallow a couple years also works). A 50-year-old stand is today worth about $5,000 per acre, with some thinning harvest at 20 years. This compares not badly to wheat, which after costs of planting, fertilizing, spraying with pesticides, irrigating, harvesting, and marketing might provide a profit of $100 per acre in a good year.

But who wants to wait for 50 years to get your profit? How about the companies that harvest the trees? They can hope to be around then, or sell to someone who will.

Old growth may be cheap wood, but there are alternatives now, and there will be better ones in the future.

Richard Hunter

Salisbury, Md.

Good Luck, Canuck

Re: Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now, by

Dear Editor:

I live in Delta, B.C., Canada. Once a year they have recycle week, when you can put out on the curb, beside your trash, any household items such as furniture or books or pretty much anything somewhat useful to someone that you don’t need any more. After the week is over and everyone has picked through it, the trash collectors come and take it away. This is also done in Surrey, B.C., Canada. Speaking as a single mother who was formerly on income assistance, it was a godsend. Let’s hope it can catch on in other communities.

Patricia Renard

Delta, British Columbia, Canada