After reading Auden Schendler's guest commentary, "Cool Changes" (1/11/07), I was reminded why so many people think their individual actions cannot make a difference -- because people incorrectly tell them so. While I agree wholeheartedly with Schendler's assertion that the populace needs to be more active in influencing policy that will bring about improvements in our energy policy, to say that individual actions are meaningless not only discourages participation, it's also false.
Schendler points to the example of replacing incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient fluorescent types as an insufficient act. Of course, this act in and of itself will not solve global climate change, but it is making a difference. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if each U.S. household were to replace just five conventional light bulbs from high-use fixtures with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, we could keep one trillion pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.
The two biggest contributors to the global warming problem are power plants and cars. Yes, we need to pressure our government (state and national) to aggressively and swiftly fund research and development of clean, renewable energy projects. We also need to demand cleaner vehicles. But we cannot sit around and wait for our energy grid to become 80 percent clean and renewable, or automakers to supply the U.S. market with an affordable zero-emissions vehicle. Whatever we can do right now -- today - is worth doing. Not because it is the whole solution but because it is part of the solution. Multi-billion-dollar projects that will require government action or corporate reform take time to bring to fruition.
Insofar as Robert Herold's comparison of the mess in Iraq to the camp film Dr. Strangelove ("Strange Days," 12/28/06) is intended as a commentary on the bungling of delusional and incompetent fools in high places, the analogy is a fair one that actually has many applications. But the parallel that Herold goes on to draw -- that of a worthless undertaking driven by "loony neocon henchmen" -- curiously ignores Strangelove's complete message. After all, in the film's denouement, it is revealed that the "Russkies" have put in place a "Doomsday Machine" that will automatically trigger a total nuclear conflagration if they are attacked -- even accidentally.
The Russkie adversary is thus revealed to be in favor of a suicidal Gotterdammerung rather than retreat or compromise, a position that the diabolical Strangelove, himself, had considered but rejected -- based on a study he commissioned at the BLAND Corporation (which presumably can be taken as a compliment to RAND's work). As for Ripper, he was clearly psychotic. But the Russkies had no similar excuse for their concealed Doomsday deterrent!
In equating the fools with a fool's mission, Herold would have us imagine that there are not and never were strategic American interests involved in Iraq, that our struggle there was originally conceived as a disingenuous pursuit of WMD -- presumably by Strangelove-like "loons" who take a macabre delight in mayhem. Despite the disastrous mess created by the American leadership as portrayed in Strangelove, what informed person would argue that the Soviets represented no serious threat to America and its friends?
By the same token, where are the analysts now who would take the position that trends in the Persian Gulf region prior to the war -- trends toward the spread of radical Islamist regimes, armed with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, adjacent to nuclear armed-Israel, in the very heart of the world's most critical petroleum reserves -- are something that could have been ignored or might have been nicely addressed through a so-called diplomatic deal? It is worth recalling that the modern Islamist wrath, including that of Osama Bin Laden, has only been inspired by the "diplomatic deal" that the industrialized world has maintained with "friendly" Gulf regimes for nearly a century.
Finally, when it comes to Herold's approval of Churchill's admonition that it's better to "jaw, jaw, jaw rather than war, war," one should not forget that it was also Churchill who recommended "strangling the Bolshevik baby in its cradle." Whether that makes Winston a "neocon henchman" or a "capable and deliberate man" can't be determined from Herold's metaphorical use of Strangelove.
Shane E. Mahoney
I enjoyed your commentary, "Freeholder, Version 2.0" (12/7/06). The Freeholders didn't overshoot the public's appetite in '95; we, the supporters, didn't do a good enough job in selling the issue. City-county consolidation is still the governance solution for our future. We all drink the same water, breathe the same air and drive the same roads. Imagine what we could accomplish if we are all working on the same team. Let's together build a much more prosperous future and begin the process of consolidation now.
Hooray for Haeder
I have been very impressed with the series of stories about sustainability in The Inlander. Thank you for making that happen and thanks to Paul Haeder for his gifted work. With the increased emphasis on global warming and the crucial need for a change in the life style of the citizens of the United States, it is incumbent upon all of us to see how much we can do to preserve planet earth.
I hope you will continue to include stories about sustainability and conservation in your publication. The need is now, and it has never been a more urgent need. Thanks for your support of these issues and your ongoing concern for the lives of those seven generations hence.