Letters to the Editor

Readers write about extracting oil from shale and tar sands, the challenges Obama will face in Afghanistan, and how Hamas impedes the possibility of peace with Israel.

Green energy cannot include oil shale and tar sands

Regarding the Jan. 2 editorial, "Obama's big oil decision": President-elect Obama has shown he is serious about climate change and building a globally competitive green economy. He therefore would be wise to pass on developing oil shale and tar sands. Even assuming that we are able to develop the technology to make commercial oil shale production viable, oil shale and tar sands are two of the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet. Their extraction would doom our nation's chances of meeting Kyoto goals in this century, let alone by 2020.

Processing oil shale could require building dozens of new coal-burning power plants just when we have turned away from new coal plants in the West. At the same time, the water demands for oil shale processing could suck the life out of rural Colorado's sustainable agricultural and tourism-based economy.

Instead of wrongheaded efforts to squeeze oil from rock, we must look to the sun, the wind, and savings from efficiency to power the next generation's economy. Sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into dirty, dead-end fuels like oil shale and tar sands will result in far less investment in clean, long-term energy technologies. As a society, we cannot have it both ways. Our clean energy future will not become a reality unless we say, "thanks, but no, thanks," to the dirtiest of dirty fuels.

Karin P. Sheldon

Western Resource Advocates

Boulder, Colo.

Afghanistan will challenge Obama

Regarding the Jan. 5 article, "Great expectations for Obama abroad": Author Robert Marquand rightly asserts that mismanagement of the war in Afghanistan would harm the NATO alliance and US relations with allies in Europe.

Privately, some British military leaders in Helmand (Britain's Afghan base) admit there is little chance of defeating the Taliban in less than a decade. The British public want to know why British troops are being sacrificed for a mission that seems to lack a clear purpose. NATO's commanders are unwilling to change tactics in Afghanistan because to do so would affirm that the existing strategy has been a huge failure.

The Afghan conflict will be one of President-elect Obama's toughest foreign-policy assignments in 2009. If NATO fails to make rapid and decisive progress in Afghanistan under Mr. Obama's leadership, public support in the US and Europe for the war against the Taliban will rapidly decline. As in Iraq, a protracted military withdrawal would then become a real possibility for the US.

Alistair Budd
London

Hamas will not allow peace

In regard to the Dec. 29 editorial, "Beyond bombs and rockets in Gaza": Some of the media act as if Hamas were a peace organization. Hamas doesn't want peace – it wants to destroy Israel.

What kind of government uses people as human shields, or forces families to house rockets in their homes?

Israel and the Palestinians need a lasting peace, which will come only when Iran-backed terrorists like Hamas are defeated.

Sara K. Scolnick
Boston

A simple message for the Palestinians: Love your children more than you hate the Israelis. It is time to stop teaching hatred to children in Palestinian schools and time for Palestinians to invest in their country's future as a peaceful nation, rather than a terrorist state.

Michael Gerard
Newton, Mass.

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