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To Earth Island Journal


Shut those right-wingers up!

You devoted precious space on your Summer 2004 Letters page to a letter written by Alan A. Norian, who claimed that “illegal aliens” are a “real environmental disaster” and accused the EIJ of “hypocrisy” for not pointing out this alleged “fact.” He concluded that you are “cultural Marxists” who care more about “political correctness” than “the truth.”

Do you believe that Norian has a point, or are you so confident that EIJ readers are free of Norian’s dangerous misperceptions that you feel confident that printing them, uncommented-on and unrefuted, will provoke only ridicule? I do not share your confidence.

Norian’s narrowly national focus prevents him from seeing that all immigrants are also emigrants, and that their travel, whether north, south, east, or west, neither increases nor decreases the weight of the human footfall upon the Earth.

There is therefore no such thing as an environmental argument against migration. There is an environmental argument against high fertility rates, but fertility can be reduced only by improving education and empowering young women to make choices about their fertility, not by bashing immigrants. It is detrimental to the environmental cause to repeat the myth that “immigration” is an “environmental disaster.” At the very least, we should be aware that migration is as often the result as is it the cause of environmental degradation. Environmental degradation is caused by all of us, and we can stop it from happening only by working together, not by dividing ourselves into “natives” and “newcomers,” “legals” and “illegals.” Please do not ever again allow another letter-writer to do this in the pages of the EIJ without at least printing a counter-argument.
Eric Paul Jacobsen
Madison, Wisconsin

One could easily argue that migration from low-consuming to high-consuming countries is in fact an environmental problem worth thinking about, but you raise some excellent arguments. Still, we prefer to trust our readers to make up their own minds. What a dreary place this letters page would be if we printed only opinions we shared, or rebutted point by point those we didn’t agree with. — ed.

Tuna-safe tuna?

Re: Voices, Summer 2004; First let me commend Todd Steiner for the great job he's doing with the Turtle Island Restoration Network. Then let me remind him and your readers that there is an even better diet for a small planet—it's called vegetarianism and it's the "best choice" one can make for both sea and land animals (and humans, too!).

I'm always amazed how many people and groups leave this "choice" off their list of guides on what and what not to eat. Just don't eat any seafood. That sure seems like smartest "no-brainer" to me! Visit to get started.
Sharie Lesniak

Reusing oil

Re: End of the Oil Age, Autumn 2003; One thing that sent a shiver up my spine was the statement made by M. King Hubbard, "You can only use oil once." Mr. Hubbard’s statement is entirely false. Oil can be reused! Oil does not wear out. What is does is get dirty.

Used motor oil can be re-refined into lubricating oils that meet the same API/SAE specifications as virgin motor oil. You can achieve the same level of performance from a re-refined oil product as you can from virgin oil. Engine lubricating oil does not "wear out." Producers re-refine oil to remove contaminants introduced during its use and then replace the "additive packages" that confer its specific properties, such as viscosity. Current technologies allow used oil to be re-refined into a high quality base-stock, and several oil companies now market products that have been certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Re-refined oil avoids the pollution associated with drilling and transport of crude oil, conserving resources and using 66 percent less energy than other refining processes.
Amber Forest McHale
Ocean Beach, California

Your comments about the recycling of lubricating oil are right on target, but Hubbard’s statement concerned crude oil in general, much of which is burned as fuel and is thus unrecoverable. —ed

We welcome your letters. Send to:
Letters, Earth Island Journal,
300 Broadway, #28,
San Francisco CA 94133, USA,
or e-mail them to Letters will be edited for length, grammar and clarity. Views expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views of Earth Island Institute.


In our Summer 2004 issue, in Léonie Sherman’s Tongass article, we misspelled the name of Audubon Alaska’s John Schoen. We regret the error.


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