Re: It All Comes Out in the Walsh

Dear Editor:

I would like to set the record straight. Bill Walsh identified the American Chemical Society as one of 1,000 “trade associations defending the rights of polluters.” Walsh said he has a collection of “voodoo dolls” representing the “flacks” for these associations and after reading their daily press releases, he “adjusts the pins.” Ouch! Correct the pins, please!

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For the record, the ACS is the world’s largest scientific society with 159,000 individual chemists and chemical engineers, many of whom are working at the forefront of environmental science. ACS is a nonprofit — not a trade organization — chartered by Congress in 1876 to provide information about chemical research to Congress and to the public. The society publishes peer-reviewed scientific journals and databases, convenes research conferences, and provides educational, science policy, and career programs in chemistry. ACS issues press releases, but they are generally about peer-reviewed research that has appeared in one of its scientific journals.

A correction in an upcoming Grist issue would be appreciated.

Charmayne Marsh

Manager, News and Information

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Office of Communications

American Chemical Society

Washington, D.C.

Bill Walsh replies:

I screwed up.

Chemistry is cool, and the American Chemical Society is teeming with cool chemists. The ACS is probably the last organization to use the “L” word describing its mission, “to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement of chemistry in all its branches.” They sponsor the Green Chemistry Institute. Their Code of Conduct specifies that “Chemists should understand and anticipate the environmental consequences of their work. Chemists have responsibility to avoid pollution and to protect the environment.”

I stand corrected and apologize to the ACS. There is no excuse, but there is an explanation. I confused the American Chemical Society with the American Chemistry Council. The latter is the anti-environmental trade association, which changed its name from the Chemical Manufacturers Association. I further confused myself when I learned that the vinyl and chlorine industry’s top chemist apologist, Dr. Bill Carroll, had been elected president of the ACS. My mind’s eye placed him at the American Chemistry Council, which seems much more compatible with his former roles with the vinyl and chlorine trade associations. So, I’m going to keep that ACS voodoo doll handy, just in case.

Bill Walsh

National Coordinator

Healthy Building Network

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Editor’s note: We’ve posted a correction here.


Re: How Do We Suck? You Counted the Ways

Dear Editor:

The last round of letters posted on Grist was pretty negative. I want to say that Grist is the best online environmental publication out there today. I’ve been reading Grist every day for several years, and I think it’s evolved into an excellent publication. Grist original content has become my favorite source of information. I start every day with Grist and go into withdrawal when the staff takes a well-deserved vacation. Thanks for not taking life so seriously, and for showing everyone else that it’s OK to do the same.

Walker Larsen


Re: Nun of the Above

Dear Editor:

Why are you calling [Dorothy] Stang “elderly”? She was 73 years young. She was living an active, socially engaged, relevant life; do we need to have her chronologic status (mis)labeled so that we see her as frail? C’mon.

Kathryn Olney

Portland, Ore.


Re: Nun of the Above

Dear Editor:

There are times not to be cute. Stories about people being murdered are one of them. Your headline about the murder in the Amazon was offensive. I like your product, but please stop pretending you’re writing for a college frat house.

David Scott

Columbus, Ohio


Dear Editor:


I forwarded the issue of Daily Grist containing the piece on leaded gasoline and NASCAR around to my group, without reading through to the last news item. Although I was mildly amused by the title given to the piece on “Hummers” once I read it, I was also chagrined when I remembered that it was by then sitting in my division director’s email box. Today’s DG has another phallic reference. Gimme a break!

Brooke H.

Durham, N.C.


Dear Editor:

I felt compelled to write regarding the use of the word “powwow” as a synonym for “meeting” in today’s Daily Grist. I’m sure you don’t need to be told that powwows are a significant part of the community, culture, and spirituality of Native American First Nations. Using the word “powwow” when you mean “meeting” is at best woefully inaccurate, and at worse dismisses nations that have survived 500 years of colonization. Powwows are specific cultural events, and should be referred to as such. While the term is commonly misused, I’m quite frankly a bit surprised to see it happen in this publication.

I look forward to reading about powwows that are really powwows, and all of the important environmental news that you bring to our inboxes every day.


St. Paul, Minn.


Re: Rainbow Warrior

Dear Editor:

“Rainbow Warrior” by Adrienne Maree Brown was an absolutely stunning piece. She really gets it. By the way, I’m an old, white male who works for a well-known environmental think tank.

Bill LaRocque

Washington, D.C.


Re: Let Us Now Praise Innocuous Men

Dear Editor:

It doesn’t help our cause to speak disparagingly of a well-qualified person. Please do not anticipate failure when it is still possible that Steve Johnson may actually work out OK for us as EPA chief!

Judy Emerson


Re: Queer Eye for the Green Guy

Dear Editor:

Oh please. Ms. Bendrick’s article is clever, pithy, and irrelevant. Even if her tongue is planted firmly in her cheek, this is a bogus and unnecessary argument.

What is next? Shall we have a red carpet entrance to the next Bioneers conference? You can get Joan Rivers and her daughter to do scathing commentary and personality worship as the attendees arrive. I’m sure that the world wants to know where Hunter Lovins got that handbag.

And how do we justify wearing an outfit — so we are “taken seriously” — that costs more than the annual wage of many working humans on the planet? So, pardon me if I eschew the Gucci shoes.

Ms. Bendrick should pay attention to the flow of investment wealth within the energy industry. This is the future speaking loud and clear, and it has nothing to do with style and fashion.

Marc Flora

Helena, Mont.

Re: Surely You Gestate, by

Dear Editor:

[Umbra’s] latest column about children and the environment does not reflect [her] best, balanced work.

Children are not the problem; it is the society they grow up in. Your comments about people who choose to have children and their responsibility to “relocate” their home closer to their child’s activities truly illuminates your upper middle-class background; not everyone has the money to do that. Raising children with an environmental attitude is a true balancing act. Your article does not even skim the top of it.

Seth Osann

Boulder, Colo.

Re: The Apple Dumping Gang, by

Dear Editor:

I was really disappointed about the article on the iPod. Many electronics have hazardous materials, so why pick on the iPod? Apple is a much more environmentally conscious company than, say, Microsoft. We have to pick our battles. The iPod can hold 10,000 songs, which is much less material than the same amount of CDs. Come on, we environmentalists sacrifice a lot, but don’t make us give up music.

Carla Truax

St. Paul, Minn.

Re: A Short Review of Nearly Everything, by

Dear Editor:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about one of my all-time favorite authors! I fell in love with Bryson’s writing and wit whilst living in England a decade ago. I always appreciated his environmental tendencies. Thanks for informing your other readers about this wonderful writer!

Matthew Selby

Sharon, Mass.

Re: SVO Speedwagon, by

Dear Editor:

You know what? I fucking give up. I’ve driven a Prius since they hit the U.S. market (mine was among the first couple hundred), but Umbra’s dismissive analysis of hybrids versus veggie-oil vehicles convinces me that indulging anything less than Gandhian green instincts is a hopeless and meaningless exercise. There’s always something more one could do. Ride a bicycle? Think about all that mining and energy expenditure that goes into their manufacture. Walk? Shoes are made in sweatshops. Lie on the ground? You’re crushing the flowers. Enough already. Let’s all just go to hell in a Humvee. Why beat ourselves up? From now on, everything I can’t throw out my car window (when no one’s looking) goes into my garbage can. Screw the environment. Screw Grist. Unsubscribe me.

David Weber

Mendocino, Calif.

Editor’s note: We checked with David to make sure he wasn’t just having a bad day. David, we said, do you really want to unsubscribe? Here’s how he replied:

Dear Editor:

I’ve had a good night’s sleep and a couple of eggs from the hens the mountain lion didn’t get (we decided bears don’t like raw chicken) and a nice piece of organic grass-fed beef jerky from the Davies & Gamble ranch, and I’m mellowed out. If I get stressed again, I’ll pen Umbra.

Keep on … uh, bicycling.

David Weber