Oil drilling at home or abroad has same effect

I should like to comment on the beautiful opinion piece on preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the adjacent areas in the Yukon and Alaska ("A resource more valuable than oil," Oct. 11). The argument for preserving the lifestyle of indigenous people appears overwhelming. I compliment the author for the dedication to support and appreciate these people and this environment.

As someone with over 50 years in the newspaper business, I am compelled to point out a broader view of the problem. All of us drive cars fueled with petroleum from the delicate deserts of Arabia and Kuwait and the offshore seascape of Venezuela. Oil, wherever found, seems to be in a sensitive surrounding. We cannot justify an attitude that we are not concerned for the effect of oil drilling on other countries. Nor can we leave the impression that we will take care of our own environment and contribute to the demise of theirs.

We should pursue every means of efficient use of limited petroleum resources and develop alternate sources of energy. In the meantime, we cannot afford to refuse to develop the sources of oil available to us. When we do so in Alaska, we must see that the caribou are protected. It is my understanding that the caribou herd prospers despite oil drilling in Prudhoe Bay.

James H. Smith Fair Oaks, Calif

Protected wilderness

In his Oct. 16 opinion piece, "Forget about building the road to nowhere," Michael Soule refers to the 43 million acres of roadless areas in our national forests as "the last islands of wildernesslike parcels."

Mr. Soule completely ignores the fact that 18 percent (35 million acres) of the National Forest System is protected wilderness. Nationwide, 104 million acres are in the National wilderness system. Fifty percent is in Alaska.

There are justifiable reasons why these roadless areas have been classified for non-development for 50 years or more. A good share of the land is noncommercial forest land, mountain tops, desert chaparral, etc. However, final decisions should be made at the local level and not by the "shotgun" approach used in Washington.

Soule also implies that thousands of bears and other animals are being illegally killed by poachers using abandoned Forest Service roads. Where is the law enforcement? Bears and deer are doing very nicely in Minnesota's roaded areas.

Kern S. Ridlington Aitkin, Minn.

Proud of heritage

Your Oct. 13 article "What's in a name? Maybe a lot, if you're 'British' " tells of the recommendation by the Commission into the Future of Multi-ethnic Britain to ban the term "British" or "Brit" because of its inherent racism. The story was of more than passing interest in my house.

My wife, now a United States citizen, is very proud of her British heritage, and in my judgment, rightly so. One would presume that the term "Scot" and/or "Irish" must likewise be done away with.

Ted Kirby Waynesville, N.C.

Teenage reading habits

Regarding your Oct. 17 article "Helping busy teens pause to enjoy some good books": Speaking from experience, one of the main reasons that reading strictly for pleasure dwindles in teenage years is because there are simply not enough hours in the day. As a full-time college student, I am aware that reading was a privilege I took for granted in my younger years.

Brooke Benedict Rexburg, Idaho

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