Letters for July 19, 2001

People problem
I have a few comments regarding the touted clean operating electric cars [“Street smarts,” June 28].

With a large part of the electricity in the U.S. coming from fossil-fuel-burning power plants, and considering that every time energy is transferred from one medium to another something is lost, are the electric cars really worthwhile? Wouldn’t they be less polluting if they just burned the fossil fuel themselves instead of having it burned elsewhere and transported via the power lines to the car? After the initial fuel is burned to produce the electricity, think of all the intermediary power consumers that get the electricity to the car—all of the office buildings housed with PG&E people, all their cars, and all the service trucks that continue to operate the electricity producing plants.

We have some hydro plants here, so that helps locally.

The best way to stop pollution is to stop the problem: overpopulation. Our tax system needs to be reversed so that we reward the families with two kids or less and tax the beegeevies out of the big families. A family with four kids has effectively doubled the requirements for power plants, shopping centers, freeways and cars, houses and food consumption. And all the pollution that comes with it. Eighty percent of the forests are already gone, as well as 80 percent of the fish in the ocean. When are we going to stop?

Cliff Johnsen

Nuclear battery neglect
For some reason (new staff?) your publication has improved in readability and information content. Especially the June 28 issue [“Street smarts”] containing information on power sources for non-polluting transportation.

As usual, you failed (again!) to include nuclear batteries as a “power source.” The “half-life” on one of these batteries, made from nuclear waste, is 1,000 years! I researched them a little over 40 years ago and am currently awaiting updated information from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission plus government rules on using these batteries in moving vehicles.

The nuclear battery of 40 years ago was capable of continually generating 10,000 volts for 1,000 years. The only problem was that the amperage was very low. In order to increase that amperage the voltage had to be lowered using a solid-state electronic device. (It would be possible to generate 117-volt or 240-volt, 60-cycle, household current with such a device, for use in a residence or small business.) Direct-current motors on each wheel of a vehicle could generate enough torque to run even a heavily constructed vehicle at highway speeds using a power source, with no pollution!

Abraham Johann Ausman

Fuel cell myth
Re “Reason to cell-abrate?” June 28. Good story. I enjoyed it. But…

Where is the hydrogen going to come from? One possibility is for fuel cells to run on existing fuels without combusting them—gasoline, methanol, natural gas etc. This would cut emissions significantly but still not wean the U.S. off of foreign sources of energy.

The other possibility is to manufacture the hydrogen from water using electrolysis. Which of course requires lots of electricity. How will this electricity be generated? Coal? Nuclear?

So I think you need to better qualify yourself when you say that the fuel cell could be the answer to our prayers. It’s pretty clear that the replacement of the internal-combustion engine with the fuel cell will raise a number of interesting issues and environmental trade-offs.

The fuel cell will not be the panacea everyone hopes it will be.

Jason Holman
Received via email

Gimme shelter
Your recent article on riding the buses [“Easy does it,” June 28] was very interesting and uplifting, and I am quite sure that you received many letters of approval full of joy. However, as a resident of this city and an occasional rider, I am looking at this matter through different glass, not as pink as yours.

The question I have for you and the caring city fathers is very simple: How can you expect us riders to applaud and jump up and down in joy when 98 percent of the bus stops do not have shelter? (Shelter: “A place which protects, covers or shields; refuge; place of protection, esp. from the weather.") The sad fact is that most of the bus stops do not even have a bench. People, young and old, sit on the sidewalk or the curb waiting patiently for the bus.

I suggest that you, the city manager and the members of the council, take a ride on the city or the county buses and experience the joy of waiting for this marvelous transportation miracle in the summer heat or during the rainy and windy winter months.

Charles Salath

Economical development
On July 19 the Chico Planning Commission will discuss whether to expand the areas for new development beyond Chico’s present urban boundaries.

This issue has been raised, in part, due to the Enterprise-Record’s recent articles suggesting that there is a lack-of-land crisis here in Chico.

In fact, there’s plenty of room available now in existing areas set aside for residential development. Of course, this premise depends on what kind of housing the building industry chooses to build. If developers insist on building expensive houses on oversized lots that only the wealthiest can afford, then, yes, more open land will be needed for that type of houses. But if developers choose to build what the majority of Chico people need, then the land now designated for new development is quite adequate.

What Chico needs is more small- to medium-sized affordable houses and more multi-family housing for renters. High-density housing doesn’t have to be ugly. The charming, older neighborhoods of Chico are a good example of high-density housing. The soon-to-be completed Doe Mill project by developer Tom DiGiovanni is another positive example. Valley Oaks Village off Forest Avenue is an excellent demonstration of how beautiful multi-family housing can be.

I think we need to focus our attention on the immediate needs of Chico residents: more affordable housing for middle- and low-income families. I urge developers to answer this need.

Karen Laslo

Could it be the devil?
Why are we all so complacent about population growth in California? Why are the politicians so reluctant to address this issue? Why do we all have a growing awareness of environmental disasters—past, present, and looming in the future—as we use up and destroy natural resources because our sheer numbers grow exponentially and we do nothing to address real solutions? Could the real answer be religion?

Why is the Vatican sitting at the table in the United Nations, as though it is a country? Why does the Vatican negatively influence population policies across this planet that are designed to help families?

Have you read or heard about the nonfiction book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy?” Are you aware there were serious efforts made by Presidents Nixon and Ford to develop a population policy for the United States that were scuttled by the Catholic Church?

As long as the gateway to heaven is open to you when you die, do you care about anything else? Is it really all “God’s will"?

Tanya Henrich