Letters to the Editor
Readers write about acting on global warming, banning off-road vehicles, a proposed carbon tax, Arizona immigration law, and Sanskrit's popularity.
Speed up response to the risks of global warming
After reading your July 5 article, "Could this be the global-warming generation?," I believe that raising awareness of global warming is vitally important, but too many people who accept its reality theoretically do not yet feel the urgency required for major changes in energy use. Partly, climate change is still perceived as affecting us in the distant future.
Our energy dependence creates risks with much shorter time horizons. If our tremendous fuel-import needs are disrupted even briefly, the US will encounter price volatility and shortages.
With world energy demand continuing to grow, and supplies of oil and natural gas stagnant or depleting, we cannot assume energy prices or supplies will be stable. By focusing on a risk that can affect us at any time, we can prepare for fuel depletion and nonlinear events while speeding up a response to global warming.
Stop promoting off-road vehicles
After reading the July 3 article, "Off-road vehicles rev up controversy in public lands," I believe that our dependence on foreign oil constitutes a serious threat to our national security. In order to meet our basic transportation needs we must import more than 50 percent of the oil we use; and even if the oil does not get cut off, the many billions of dollars that we send overseas damages our economy and helps to enrich the coffers of unfriendly regimes in countries such as Iran and Venezuela.
We need to find alternative energy sources and do everything we can to reduce our consumption of oil. It therefore makes absolutely no sense to promote the use of off-road vehicles for entertainment. In fact, there should be a national policy to prohibit the use of gas guzzling off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, and jet skis on our public lands and public waterways.
Given the additional fact that obesity has become a national healthcare crisis, we should aggressively encourage physical outdoor activities instead. The fact that people sit and burn gasoline as a form of recreational activity is a disgrace, and it should be viewed as an un-American activity.
Wayne A. Spitzer
Carbon tax as damage control
In response to the July 5 editorial, "Al Gore's inconvenient tax," the first paragraph describes the basics of the proposal (replacing one tax with another), but then proceeds to ignore the replacement portion of the plan.
The carbon tax is the ultimate expression of a consumption tax, except that instead of consuming things, it charges against the damage to the environment posed by greenhouse gases emitted by a user.
To have a truly effective argument about taxation, it is helpful to discuss all parts of a proposal.
In response to the editorial, "Al Gore's Inconvenient Tax," about taxing gasoline to reduce consumption and pollution: Congress is struggling against the auto lobby to mandate more strict miles per gallon rates at some date in the future that is too distant.
Auto manufacturers such as Toyota have the technology right now to achieve 40 to 50 m.p.g. Of course Toyota cannot produce all cars in this form, therefore I believe that their technology should be mandated for use by all auto manufacturers with a license fee paid to Toyota until patents expire.
Thomas Harmon, Jr
New Arizona law on hiring illegal workers
Regarding the July 5 article, "Employers feel heat on immigration," which examines Arizona's new law to impose sanctions on those who hire illegal workers: While employers may whine about mistakes in the Basic Pilot Program, I do not see any of them commenting on how much more time they will have to spend checking IDs much more thoroughly and calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately if they have a suspicion.
A better proposal would be for the illegal workers under suspicion to lose their job until the ID is proven legal rather than punish the employer. This would put more of the onus on the illegal worker and give the employers a real incentive to clean up their act.
Sanskrit for individuals from all backgrounds
In response to your July 5 article, "Sanskrit echoes around the World," I believe the article correctly portrays the growing popularity of Sanskrit not only in India but also in the US. In Pensacola, Fla., a medium-sized southern city, I offered a 10-week course on beginning Sanskrit alphabet and Sanskrit vocabulary. To my surprise the course was quite popular, and 30 adults completed the entire program.
Dr. Madan Lal Goel
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