Letters From Our Readers

Had Enough?

Jim Motavalli’s “Enough” article (Cover Story, March/April 1996) was just right. If the heart of the environment’s dilemma lies in our taking more from the Earth than it can stand, then surely every person calling his or herself an environmentalist should be a frugal consumer. If every voluntary simplicist doesn’t yet see the connection between a life of meaning and preserving the planet, then your article can give them that essential information.

Years ago my husband and I made the commitment to “downsize.” We recently wrote a pamphlet entitled “A Guide to Getting Out and Getting a Decent Life.” Living with less for the sake of the environment is very much a part of that. Readers may receive a copy free by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Country Connections, P.O. Box 6748, Pine Mountain, CA 93222-6748.

—Catherine R. Leach
Pine Mountain, CA

I was astonished to note that there is not one mention of population control, the real solution to overconsumption and other looming disasters so engagingly discussed in “Enough!” The only viable settlement to our consumption problems (and thus our environmental and socioeconomic problems), now and in the future, is a reduction in population growth and stabilization of population levels. Without that, all the programs, exchanges, exhortations, volunteering and hand-wringing will net us nothing in terms of a future for our children, much less our planet.

—Thomas Nel Tripp
Gahanna, Ohio

What an eco-hero to feature in E! Amy Dacyczyn (“Getting Off the Treadmill,” sidebar to “Enough!”) has reduced her consumption and even visits up to 30 yard sales a day…to provide for her six children!

Hello! Hello! Someone needs to tell Amy about contraception and E about overpopulation. If Dacyczyn’s progeny adopt her frugal lifestyle (of which there is no guarantee) and her fertility rate (for the Earth’s sake, let’s hope they don’t), another five generations would produce 55,980 additional Americans, frugal consumers or not!

I believe in reducing consumption—and have not owned a car for 12 years—but it is still clear to me that more needs to be done. In the same issue, Jacques Cousteau calls overpopulation “the monumental problem for the future.”

—Ric Oberlink
Executive Director
Californians for Population Stabilization
Sacramento, CA

Editor’s Note: E will begin a series on population in the November/December issue.


SOS for Parks

The national park system has been called “the best idea America ever had.” Your feature story, “Parks in Peril” (March/April 1996), made it clear that our elected leaders are failing to honor each generation’s duty to keep this idea alive. Congress’ current approach to the parks is representative of how it’s handling the 623 million acres of public lands that belong to each and every U.S. citizen. Current legislation would promote development of redrock canyons in Utah, reduce protection for wildlife, give away national forests, and turn the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain into a sprawling oil field. That’s the short list.

—Gaylord Nelson
Counselor
The Wilderness Society
Washington, D.C.


Hot Air?

Initially, your January/February 1996 cover story, “Some Like It Hot,” states the reality of the climate change issue: “In the universities and laboratories where scientists hang out, [the onset of global warming] is still hotly debated.” From that point forward, however, your one-sided views blur this fact and your readers are left with exaggerated claims of a “consensus” and false accusations of those with differing opinions.

Your claim of a scientific consensus on long-term projections for potential climate change is misleading. A recent peer-reviewed article by Granger Morgan of Carnegie Mellon University and David Keith of Harvard University clearly shows that climate experts have widely varying opinions on the issue. In the article (funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the Electric Power Research Institute, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) entitled, “Subjective Judgments by Climate Experts,” the authors found a “rich diversity of expert opinion and…a greater degree of disagreement than is often conveyed in scientific consensus documents.” Or in the press, I might add.

When citing the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), you conveniently fail to incorporate any of the scientists’ qualified and limiting statements.

Policies or measures that are recommended to governments as a means of addressing global climate change concerns ought to meet two fundamental criteria: They need to be based on a reasonably solid scientific foundation, and they have to be economically rational and defensible. The IPCC has not yet produced information enabling policy makers to meet those standards.

The solution to the challenge of potential climate change will not be found in ostracizing certain scientists who are projecting legitimate views, but in committing industry and governments to resolving the remaining key scientific uncertainties and developing new technologies that will allow struggling economies and the standards of living they support to improve without placing the climate at risk.

It is important to note that the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) is an accredited participant in the IPCC process, and is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The GCC is not “an industry front group” (as E called it in the piece) but a coalition of U.S. trade associations and private companies that have come together to address this issue in a positive, constructive manner.

—John Shlaes
Executive Director
Global Climate Coalition
Washington, D.C.

Jim Motavalli replies: Despite GCC’s fulminations, IPCC’s scientists overwhelmingly concluded that global warming is both real and at least partially man-made. As to the non-denial denial in the last paragraph, it’s just laughable. A “coalition of U.S. trade associations and private companies” is an “industry front group” in our book.


Terrific Talking

I have been subscribing to E Magazine for about two years. I am impressed with the range of issues covered and the objectiveness of the coverage. The interview with Jacques Cousteau (Conversations, March/April 1996) was exceptional. He is an impressive realist. Thanks for doing a great job.

—David E. Sutton
Jasper, NY


Corrections

In “Green Growth on the Net” (In Brief, March/April 1996), the wrong phone number was listed for Eco

Net. The correct phone number is (415) 561-6100.

In “Bag It” (Consumer News, March/April 1996), the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) was incorrectly stated as having a $2 pamphlet listing supermarkets that carry minimally packaged products. PRC can supply a $5 Environmental Shopper Kit, which contains this pamphlet among other materials. For $2, consumer can obtain a Guide to Buying Recycled Products, which contains over 500 products made with recycled materials.

The complete phone number of Global Oceans Watch (“Watch Out for Killer Algae,” Currents, March/April 1996) is (202) 232-3828.

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