Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the blockade in Gaza, nuclear power, and alternatives to bottled water.

Gaza sanctions exact an unjust toll on civilians

Regarding the Jan. 15 article "Fertilizer, frustration fuel Gaza's rockets": The article paid primary attention to fertilizer and little to frustration. This neglect appears not unusual as the humanitarian crisis emerging in Gaza seems to garner little international concern. Now that Gaza's main power plant began shutting down last Sunday, frustration will only further fuel unrest.

Frustration is found in the fact that a majority of Gazans, roughly two-thirds, are feebly finding their way on $2 a day or less. Frustration finds fertile soil when nearly 75 percent of Gaza's factories have closed their doors or function at an unprofitable 20 percent of capacity. Frustration mounts when unfettered travel is unfeasible and economic boycotts make import and export impossible. That is frustration. That is what is fueling and fomenting the conflict. The objective of the economic boycott – fostered, in part, by the Americans – is to choke Gaza until she cries for mercy. This is hardly ethical policymaking.

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As similar sanctions on Iraq fell hardest on civilians, so, too, will this boycott's burden be felt by Gaza's innocent. Not only do sanctions make military conflict more likely, they are invariably inhumane.

The world must focus its efforts to save Gaza, not starve it.

Michael Shank
Arlington, Va.

Government Relations Adviser, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

Make the most of nuclear power

Regarding your Jan. 17 editorial, "Atomic power regains its glow": While nuclear power has its problems, so does every other method for generating electricity. Solar is much more expensive than nuclear. Wind is better, but still requires huge subsidies in order to compete. Coal produces more airborne radiation than nuclear energy because of the naturally occurring minerals like uranium and radium in coal.

And, while a 1,000-megawatt nuclear plant (enough to supply energy to 1 million people) produces about 30 tons of waste per year, the same-sized coal plant produces approximately 7 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, along with millions of tons of fly ash and air pollutants.

If you think it is difficult to site a nuclear waste repository, consider the local opposition to building an underground carbon dioxide dump (so-called sequestration), which can leak heavier-than-air gas that would pool in confined or low-lying areas, suffocating the locals.

The nuclear renaissance is not a matter of "if" but "when," and we must be prepared to deal with it.

Geoffrey Rothwell
Department of Economics, Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.

Bottled water weigh-in

In response to the Jan. 17 article "The battle over bottled vs. tap water": All potable drinking water is pumped from a natural source – whether near or far – it always contains a certain percentage of natural elements.

The regional authorities, by law, have to keep tap water standards to an acceptable level, so why on earth would people want to spend more money on water – especially when they moan about the price of gasoline?

Regarding wasted packaging of the water: Wouldn't it be cheaper to install filtration plants for drinking water at subdivisions, public housing spaces, etc., as filters and ultraviolet systems last a long time and charcoal filters are cheap to produce?

Carl Gin

Oamaru, New Zealand

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