Focus on solar energy to curb US demand for oil

As a San Francisco Bay Area resident, I find it encouraging to see San Francisco's support for solar energy praised in your Nov. 20 editorial "Let the sun fight terrorism." Over the past 30 years, prices of photovoltaic panels have dropped remarkably. Federal and state energy officials predict that the current $2 billion market will reach $10 billion by 2010 and double every three years after that until 2030. The increased use of solar panels has also come from unlikely sources. For example, Texaco's Bakersfield location uses solar panels to help power its drilling operations. If only national policymakers pushing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could see that renewable energy is the clear choice for a safe, prosperous, and clean nation.

Daniel Kirshner

Senior Economic Analyst Environmental Defense

Oakland, Calif.

When you questioned whether "renewable energy sources can economically replace the current dependence on fossil fuels" the following questions begged to be asked: Is economics a fair measuring tool when national security is at stake? Did the United States pause long to ask if it could afford the arms race in the cold war? How is the achievement of national security through energy independence any different?

A close look at why renewable energy has not been implemented as a national strategy reveals interests of corporations who promote the consumption of oil, oil-field services, and inefficient automobiles. Are the profits of these interests more important than the security of a whole nation?

Bravo to the citizens of San Francisco. They have realized that only referendums and local ballot initiatives can counteract the will of a Congress and White House that seem unwilling to make renewable energy a national priority.

Michael Stieber

Boulder, Colo.

What patriotism really means

Regarding "Thinking through patriotism" (Nov. 20, Learning): While I agree with Carolyn Marvin that flags and other symbols of group unity are important to us as members of a moral community, I also agree with James Fraser that a misunderstanding of patriotism can lead to misuse of these symbols. The truth is, our moral community does not stop at the US border. We are members of the entire human race, not just of this country. We have a responsibility to care about all people, not just other Americans. The events of Sept. 11 brought together countries all over the world. Let us teach not patriotic traditions, but traditions of global unity.

Victoria Osier-Mixon

Fort Bragg, Calif.

There is hope. The younger generation, as represented by student Chau Hua in your article on patriotism, seems to understand what it means to be an American, possibly even more than the teachers. Thank goodness for Ms. Hua. May there be many more like her.

Harriet Ramage

Laurens, S.C.

Afghanistan doesn't belong to the US

The Nov. 23 opinion piece, "America's three Afghan challenges" addressed planning for the aftermath of the bombing of Afghanistan. When speaking about the US planners and plans for Afghanistan, perhaps instead we should be saying, Afghanistan's planners and future plans. The US government does not own Afghanistan. It is supposed to be a sovereign state. It was attacked when it had committed no crime. Let us remember, and have the decency to say, that Afghanistan belongs to Afghans.

Marilee Kane


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