Ways to conserve begin in the pew

Your Jan. 23 "Churches go green" article brings up the critical subject of our stewardship of the environment. More often than not, organizations won't get off the dime until they are presented with some rock-solid "pay-back" initiative.

As individuals, we have clear choices, as never before. When replacing a light bulb, why not put in a compact fluorescent? Even if it costs three times as much, it lasts 10 times as long while using less energy. That's active conservation at work, and it doesn't hurt a bit!

Large and small congregations that have not already addressed the issue should target it, immediately. Much can be done - by everyone - to become better stewards of our planet. A number of years ago, our church, the United Parish of Lunenburg, Mass., undertook a faith-based approach to energy conservation. We cut energy in virtually every way we could, which ended up having us recognized by the "Energy Star for Congregations" program as one of only six national award winners in 2002.

Energy Star isn't some sales gimmick, it's a federal government program overseen by the Department of Energy and the EPA. Our church is saving energy and a lot of money. Over time, these savings will help to strengthen the church's mission.
Art Cox
Lunenburg, Mass.

In your Jan. 10 editorial "Westward, stop!" the Monitor suggests steps to take in dealing with water shortages. Another step not mentioned would be for couples to produce fewer children. Most environmental and resource problems stem from overpopulation, and a population that is living longer.
Jackie Leonard-Dimmick
Atherton, Calif.

Oil prices distort car market

Your Jan. 27 "The family muscle car" story correctly stated that the auto industry is taking advantage of technological innovations to allow them to market more powerful engines rather than more efficient ones. Your story gives the impression that the auto industry is merely doing what consumers demand in a free market. You omitted one crucial element, however. The only reason the industry is free to choose this path is because the artificially low price of petroleum distorts the vehicle market's offerings.

Were the oil industry not to receive the massive taxpayer subsidies it does and if it had to fund (and pass on to consumers) the cost of protecting oil supply routes with US military forces in the Persian Gulf, the resulting sharply higher petroleum prices would begin to influence people's buying decisions and the public would demand more efficient engines over more powerful ones.
Michael Stieber
Boulder, Colo.

A true patriot

After reading your Jan. 21 article "To fight terror, Montanan builds schools in Asia," I am convinced that humanitarian worker Greg Mortenson is a true patriot. The US spends a huge portion of its resources on military might. This disregards the true issues of national security.

If we would spend a small fraction of those resources on education and helping people help themselves, we might have more friends and far fewer enemies. This does not refer to our current foreign aid, of which a shameful amount goes to support Israel. Much of what is left over props up corrupt governments who claim to be our friends.

I can't believe there are people who think that the exemplary work of Mr. Mortenson makes him a traitor. These people obviously think the US should rule the world with a false peace enforced by aircraft carriers and laser-guided bombs.
Frank Lilly
Silverthorne, Colo.

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