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Letters to the Editor


Fission Omission

The article “Fission Division” in the Autumn 2007 issue is based on the false premise that nuclear power is somehow worthy of consideration as an alternative to energy sources that emit greenhouse gases.

Nothing could be more misleading. The article made little mention of the many fossil fuel inputs that make the nuclear fuel cycle possible. When the fossil fuel consumption of the nuclear fuel cycle – including mining, milling, enrichment, fuel fabrication, transport, plant construction, shielding, waste disposal, and terrorism protection – are considered, nuclear is a marginal net energy source at best, and a substantial greenhouse contributor.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) estimates that 1,500 to 2,000 large reactors built at a cost of trillions of dollars to replace coal plants could in theory effect a 20 percent drop in carbon emissions, but by precluding the development of renewables. The huge drain on available money would actually result in a net increase in carbon dioxide.  

The only thing “green” about nuclear power, apart from the glow when things go terribly wrong, is the money lining the pockets of the people promoting this evil energy non-source. All the energy we need is available from that giant reactor in the sky.
Edmund Haffmans

Accord, NY

Hydropower That Works

I found the article “Bubbling Waters” in the Autumn 2007 issue to be quite simplistic, and not up to the usually high standards of your magazine.

The issue is much more complex than portrayed. If a dam is built to provide clean drinking water and irrigation water for crops in a poor country, should we not also add hydropower because of a concern about methane? If there is methane already being generated, doesn’t it make sense to get the benefits of hydropower to offset this methane? It’s far too simplistic to say that hydropower equals methane production. While in some cases it will, in others it won’t.

Hydropower supplies about 90 percent of the world’s renewable energy. It will continue to play an important role in our transition away from dirty fossil fuels when rational case-by-case analysis of a potential site is done.

David Brown Kinloch

Louisville, KY

Ethanol’s Impact

Gar Smith’s recent column “Toyotas vs. Tortillas” contains some inaccuracies.

Smith links increased ethanol to the fact that America has become a net food importer. America became a net food importer before corn ethanol’s production increase in the last three years. America becoming a net food importer has to do with trade laws – not ethanol.

Also, the article links ethanol to increased food prices. That is true, although the price increases due to the increase in the price of corn are very small. Interestingly, the price of wheat has soared far more than the price of corn, but everyone agrees that it is because of worldwide droughts.

I agree with Smith that the Live Earth concerts’ “call to action” were disappointingly modest. It is surprising to me that the environmental community did not immediately jump on one of the concerts’ proposed actions: an immediate moratorium on new coal-fired power plants without sequestration.
David Morris

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Minneapolis, MN

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