Advice Dissent


After reading "Legal Eagle: Bobby Kennedy, Jr. Fights for the Environment—and for His Kids" Future" (cover story, November/December 2003), I concluded that Kennedy is doing an excellent job fighting for the environment. This country needs more people willing to stick up for the planet’s survival.

Our kids should learn more about Kennedy’s work. I totally agree with him when he says, "Our big problem is getting the message out." People blindly trust George W. Bush because they follow the issues only superficially, and because they’re not used to criticizing national leaders. But as Kennedy points out, what Bush is asking the American people to do is hurting them, rather than helping them.

Kaitlyn Bendik, Shavertown, PA

I enjoyed the article on environmental activist Bobby Kennedy, Jr. I had always wanted to know more about the man. With all the good he is doing for the environment, I am sorry to see that he is only a good man, not a great one. The article points out that he enjoys the outdoors by going fishing. A true environmentalist would not destroy a creature he is trying to protect. I don’t know what Kennedy does with the fish he catches, but studies show catch and release is cruel and most fish die from their injuries. Or maybe he eats them, but in my book real environmentalists don’t eat animals.

I also don’t believe real environmentalists overpopulate the planet with four of their own children when there are so many kids waiting for adoption. Being an environmentalist does involve protecting the planet from the heavy-handedness of corporate giants, but it also involves how we choose to live our own lives, from determining the size of our families to the foods we consume.

Ginny Johnson, Eugene, OR


Congratulations on a job well done with your article "The Reckoning" (feature, November/December 2003). The issue of global warming is one that cuts across all political and social boundaries. No one in the world can consider themselves immune from its potentially disastrous effects.

Alex Vagelatos, WaterFurnace International, Fort Wayne, IN

I recently read the article "The Reckoning." While I consider myself a member of the hated "right wing," I also consider myself an environmentalist. Our family is vegetarian, and we are currently planning a home that will be solar and wind-energy powered. I recycle and turn off lights when I’m not in a room. In addition, I have been trying for over a year to convert my two F-150 trucks to burn propane exclusively, which would emit about 40 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) than using gasoline, yet I cannot get past emissions laws to authorize the conversion. Go figure.

Having said this, I cannot alone convince the entire "right wing" that what is needed is major change. Since it is primarily those on the right who provide the jobs and investment that fuel our economy, it is essential that they see the benefit of curbing CO2 emissions. This can be done, but not with rhetoric that bashes those who own the vehicles and industries that produce these emissions. I cannot imagine that you do not already know this. Which begs the question, what is your real intent: To change the environment, or to promote a political agenda?

Your article contains some dubious and misleading statistics, such as the BBC’s claim that CO2 emissions will lead to mass death of forests and a significant rise in sea level. This is hardly factual, provable or even at all likely.

In addition, you made little quips that do not tell the whole story, such as failing to state why the Bush administration opposes the Kyoto Treaty. Kyoto would have devastated our entire economy. And doing so based on a theory that may or may not be correct would be ridiculous. If the intent is to actually help the environment, then it is clear that maintaining our economy and educating our citizens would have far greater effect.

Andy Liakos, Lawrenceville, GA

In order for there to be "global warming" isn’t it necessary for there to be warming? The only warming for which I can find evidence is local and primarily due to surface changes such as urban heat island effects. The global trend in the troposphere as measured by satellites has been near zero since the 1970s (see "Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemispheric Average Temperature Series," Energy & Environment Vol. 14, No 6, 2003, mcintyre_02.pdf).

Steve Ludwig, St. Simon’s Island, GA

Jim Motavalli Replies: The scientific evidence that global warming is real and happening now is too vast for me to cite here, but I refer readers to the website of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Also relevant is E’s new book, Feeling the Heat: Reports from the Frontlines of Climate Change (Routledge), which fully documents ongoing global warming effects. And I find ironic Mr. Liakos" speculation that implementing the Kyoto Treaty will devastate quality of life. Isn’t that true of global warming itself?


We read your November/December 2003 article "All for Show?" (Currents) and appreciate your acknowledgement of our conservation efforts toward preserving the Asian elephant. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey agrees that the state of the Asian elephant is in crisis, and we firmly believe that we are a key player in the survival of the species.

The article suggests that protecting elephants and their natural habitats would be a step to survival of the species. While we agree that this is the ideal goal, the truth of the matter is that the size of the "wild" has significantly diminished and sovereign nations have their own pressing domestic issues that often supercede the demands of wildlife preservation. The bottom line is that the Asian elephant, as well as a host of other species, will become extinct unless they can adapt to survive in a densely populated, highly urbanized world.

We are proud of the fact that each year, millions of our guests learn how people and animals can live together in partnership, which studies have shown helps people become more sensitive to conservation.

Now, if only the animal activist community would direct more funding toward the actual protection of endangered species or habitat instead of unproductive antics. Their dollars could be better spent in the care of animals in real distress, rather than manipulating well-meaning hearts and minds into believing that there is a "wild" which, in reality, no longer exists.

John Kirtland, executive director of animal stewardship, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, via e-mail


"All For Show?" is an insightful article, and it is obvious the writer wasn’t fooled by the circus propaganda. T

he circus" press representative is absolutely correct in stating Ringling is leading the world. Ringling does lead the circus world of cruelty and horrific, abominable treatment of animals.

I recently saw a video of elephant "training," in which the poor creatures were screaming from pain from bullhooks [a sharp tool used to train and punish elephants] and frustration at trying to understand what those terrible men were trying to make them do. It is so absurd to see elephants standing on tiny stools twirling hoops or following each other around a ring holding each other’s tails with their trunks. How demeaning! Thank you for shedding light on what the circus is really about: cruelty, not conservation.

Kathryn Dalenberg, Valley Head, AL