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Letters & Emails

Let’s Move Beyond Academics
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Letters to the Editor
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The debate over whether climate change or peak oil is more deserving of our attention, “Peak Oil – Are We There Yet?” (Winter 2014), strikes me as academic. The prescription for both sets of issues is the same, as the authors more or less concede – renewable energy, community resilience and preparedness projects, energy efficiency, locavorism, collaborative consumption, etc. Most strategies for using less oil, other than really bad ideas like liquefied coal, will also curb carbon emissions. If the “peak oil” frame serves to motivate people who are unconcerned with climate change, so much the better. No need to waste precious time and energy squabbling. Let’s just do it.

Erica Etelson
Berkeley, California

Cheap Labor Doesn’t Help

Media depict the United States as a nation of immigrants, “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor?” (Autumn 2013), yet we’ve tightly controlled immigration except for the 1880s and 1890s, when business ruled the roost, and post-1965. The environment, labor, and minorities, especially unemployed youth, are not served by the arrival of new workers annually, part of why labor organizers, including Cesar Chavez, stood for border enforcement. As we increase by 2.1 million a year (82 percent immigration-driven) toward a China-like one billion in the next century, the impact is going to be catastrophic, given our per-person environmental and carbon footprint. We need to discuss immigration’s environmental and social impacts, rather than embracing “immigration reform” that is merely about cheaper labor.

Kathleene Parker
Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Long Life Counts

I read Dave Foreman’s article, “More immigration = More Americans = Less Wilderness” (Autumn 2013), with interest. Migration is a two way process – out and in. More importantly, population change is a two-way process: Growth depends on birth rates but also on death rates. Foreman, like most other writers on the subject, talks only about reproduction (and immigration). He says that in the past 40 years the US population has increased to more than 300 million and that this is due mostly to “an imprudent immigration policy.” But in those years the average lifespan of US residents has increased substantially due to better nutrition and healthcare. How many of the 300 million are a consequence of those health improvements? How much did the average age of living Americans change through that time?

Sidney Holt
Paciano, S Perugia, Italy

Feeding a Vicious Cycle

graphic cartoon depicting a horse sitting in a chair, man behind a desk saying, Its a big-budget action film and youre the lead animal not harmed in the making of

Tom Levitt’s “Brave Moo World” (Winter 2014) covered the lab-grown meat topic quite thoroughly – at first glance. But a closer read revealed that Levitt did not address a key issue – our expanding population and the planet’s ability to feed it.

Attempting to come up with a “kinder” form of meat is a distraction from the problem of overpopulation, which needs urgent attention. We already do not have enough to feed everyone. Or we do, but it’s poorly distributed. Whatever your belief on this topic, the fact is that factory-grown meat is not a solution to the environmental problems of industrial agriculture. Too many people, too much greed, and too much waste – aye, there’s the rub. Some lab-grown protein for “the masses, or the poor” will only continue to feed this vicious cycle.

Rhonda DeFelice
New Castle, Pennsylvania

Enough Already

Did Earth Island Journal have to do yet another Michael Pollan interview, “Conversation” (Winter 2014)? Can’t I open a magazine, turn on the radio, or attend the taping of a broadcast without having this guy shoved in my face? Pollan’s become the Whoopi Goldberg of the natural living set.

Carleton Hoffman,
San Francisco, California


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