Make Mine Manure-Covered
Re: Food for Thought
As a fan of organic produce and a local newspaper editor, I appreciated Donella Meadows’s article. She does a great job of rounding up and then refuting the stale critique of organic produce offered by Dennis Avery and his ilk. We need more articles like this in the mainstream press, articles that go one step beyond the “balance” that lets lies like those disseminated by Mr. Avery go unchallenged.
Make mine manure-covered!
Long Beach, N.Y.
Re: Food for Thought
Thank you for a strong and knowledgeable defense of organic farming. I live in a rural area of coastal Virginia where there are very few farmers who do not use pesticides. Even so, being on a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water, we all feel the effect of these chemicals, even if we choose not to buy the veggies at the local road stands. I have a small organic household garden, but I’m still overpowered by the crop dusters used on large fields nearby and it is very much a concern to me.
From “exotic Toledo,” I heartily agree with Mathew Gross’s observation that a rise in gasoline prices is a good thing. Besides accelerating global warming, America’s profligate waste of world oil reserves causes death and destruction. Our national response to fuel “shortages” or the threat of same is to murder the citizens of other countries that have “our” oil.
Now is the time to hassle the Congress and our federal and state highway planners into diverting more Highway Trust Fund dollars into the clean, efficient, and creative mass-transit systems that will help wean us from dependence on short-sighted geopolitics.
I hope Mathew might one day soon come visit us in Toledo on the soon-to-become-real Midwestern high-speed rail network!
Thanks so much to Mathew Gross for his article. I agree wholeheartedly.
I recently received an email that I was encouraged to pass along, suggesting that we not buy gas or oil for three days to protest the rising prices.
I did not pass it on because the issue isn’t higher prices, the issue is higher consumption. I have a better idea. How about if we start a movement that calls for a monthly gas fast — let’s buy less on a regular basis, not in protest of prices but in support of a sustainable planet.
Donella Meadows’s story on carbon sequestration was right on the money. I’d like to make one small correction, however. She lists hydrogen as a renewable energy source. Unless one is discussing nuclear fusion, hydrogen is really an energy storage medium, not a source of energy.
Endless Energy Corporation
New Gloucester, Maine
Donella Meadows briefly mentions the fact that forests can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. I want to emphasize the importance of forest carbon sequestration projects in reducing the effects of climate change.
The key is to establish international rules and standards that ensure forests will be protected and restored, not destroyed for carbon sequestration. Right now, the U.S. government maintains that young tree plantations store more carbon than older forests. This assumption is supported by the timber industry but not by scientists like Dr. Jerry Franklin, whose research published in Science demonstrates that old-growth forests store more carbon than young forests.
This November, there will be an international climate change meeting at the Hague. If the U.S. takes its current position to the meeting, the result may be forest destruction instead of protection. We need to tell the administration that only rules that protect forests will truly mitigate climate change. Please write to Roger Ballentine, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Environmental Initiatives and a key U.S. delegate to the conference, at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20500.
I’m writing to make an observation on rural vs. urban stories in Grist. Urban articles tend to celebrate some positive act taken by a local group, while rural articles tend to emphasize farmers or ranchers messing something up. My own experience, having fled cities to raise my family in a rural area, is quite the opposite. You’re missing some positive accomplishments.
The rate of adoption of environmentally sensitive changes in farming and ranching practices both here in Washington state and where I grew up in the Midwest is much faster than the rate of eco-friendly change in urban areas. These changes are being undertaken by concerned family farmers who need our collective support, not constant attack. The small farmer and rancher and the urban environmentalist should be allies, not enemies. This was much more the case in my Solar Lobby days back in the late 1970s. What happened to change it?
Klickitat County, Wash.
Joseph Romm’s piece on energy savings from America’s increased Internet use is thoughtful and encouraging. But we also need to balance the downside of the online economy, specifically where it erodes community. Take his example of buying a book through Amazon.com. It may save energy compared to a separate trip to a mall store. But it also helps erode the base of our remaining independent bookstores, places where people can go to learn about new books that matter, and talk with booksellers who actually care about them. These stores are centers for community and potential civic involvement in a way that Amazon can never be. Yes, on Amazon you can link from Romm’s book to Paul Hawken’s and other good works on environmental issues. But only if you enter that loop to begin with. You’ll never get there from Stephen King.
Whereas in a real, bricks-and-mortar independent store, there’s at least the potential that a person goes there to buy King, gets in a conversation with a thoughtful clerk, and gets steered instead to Hawken or Amory Lovins or David Brower. I know that this has happened in stores with my own books, including my most recent study of what gets us involved and keeps us involved in key public issues, Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time. The book’s done fine on Amazon, but only with
people who’ve first heard about it elsewhere. Compared to a local independent store, Amazon cuts out key human-to-human avenues for people to learn about alternative perspectives. We need to be careful before allowing the Internet to cream off the customer base that would have once supported our local community businesses.
Re: A Capital Idea
I do generally appreciate what you all do. However, you need to realize that independent booksellers are one heart of a saner economy. To link readers from your site to that crusher of local enterprise, Amazon.com — which sells books at a loss by sucking money through Wall Street, when local stores have to pay their bills directly — is the precise opposite of what Paul Hawken et al. are advocating. It may be convenient, but it is grossly unsustainable and destructive on several levels. Instead, try BookWeb.org, which can lead readers to local independent stores.
The editors respond: We too believe that independent bookstores are important components of healthy communities. At the same time, as an Internet publication, we want to give our readers quick access to more information about books and, if they are interested, an easy way to buy books on the web. With all these goals in mind, we are investigating various independent booksellers that do business online and looking into establishing a new partnership with one of them. In the meantime, we salute our readers who choose to buy from bookstores in their own communities.