Letters for March 1, 2007

False hope from AB 32

Re “Don’t blame, prepare” (SN&R Editorial, February 22) and “Low-carb lifestyle” by Nicholas Miller (SN&R News, February 22):

Both these articles relate to the damage to the planet caused by “greenhouse gases.” Professor Sperling, despite his impeccable academic qualifications, compounds the problem by focusing on AB 32 and advanced technology as solutions to greenhouse-gas emissions. As a retired chemistry professor, I assert that neither AB 32 nor the development of ZEVs [zero-emission vehicles] reduce by a whit greenhouse gases, the curse that leads SN&R to editorialize about global warming.

AB 32 simply shifts greenhouse-gas emissions out of sight rather than reduces them. The need to use more of the alternative fuels ultimately adds up to the same amount of polluting emissions. On top of that is the hidden use of the fossil fuels to generate the so-called renewable alternatives. In total, we would create more greenhouse gases than we do today.

As for the fanfare surrounding “hybrids,” remember that these vehicles need to be manufactured, which requires energy from factories spewing unwanted emissions. Then their batteries must be charged, using fossil fuels and spewing polluting emissions. If the battery is charged through an electrical outlet, it gets energy from some power plant, again using fossil fuels and spewing out greenhouse gases.

But all of this happens conveniently out of the sight of the user of the so-called “hybrid,” allowing him to dupe himself into thinking he’s reduced his emission of greenhouse gases. What a lark, with continued lining of the pockets of the oil barons!

ZEVs are, unfortunately, another snake-oil solution. If the ZEV is based on a fuel cell, it will have combustion of some sort (albeit without flames). If the fuel cell uses natural gas or liquefied propane gas (LPG), the combustion necessarily releases greenhouse gas. As for the hydrogen fuel cell: In order to produce these economically for use by millions of drivers, we’ll need elemental hydrogen. That means power plants. And, without going into the gory details of chemistry, manufacturing elemental hydrogen by electrolysis of sea water will require storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals like gaseous chlorine. So much for our governor’s “hydrogen highway.”

This is a vicious cycle. The drumbeat by politicians and consultants is just hollow promises, with no real reduction in the emissions. The only real solution is to approach mass transit with the planet-wide equivalent of the Manhattan Project. Why are we in a hurry to be somewhere else instantly? Let us take time to do things, while we have time.

Brahama D. Sharma

Who’s aiding and abetting?

Re “No excuses” (SN&R Guest Comment, February 22):

A little over two years ago. Stephen and Virginia Pearcy made a splash in SN&R for controversy over displaying a U.S. soldier in effigy on the front of their house with the words, “Bush lied and I died.” The display sparked debate and upset mothers who had children in uniform in Iraq. SN&R noted that “although the Pearcys [didn’t] have any relatives in Iraq [they hoped] that people who [did would] see their display and think about who’s accountable.”

Now Mr. Pearcy is ready to hold the dead soldier and Bush both accountable. I suppose Mr. Pearcy is still trying to help us think?

Here is what I think, Mr. Pearcy. People are dying. Let’s stay on track and end this war based on lies. Let’s get our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers engaged in ending it by contacting our Congressional members, like Doris Matsui, (Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121) and demanding that they stop funding this war. Let’s get the troops home now. Let’s begin to comprehend the amount of reparations we owe to the Iraqi people. Let’s change our foreign policy. Let’s figure out how we will care for the sick and wounded veterans who won’t be in any condition to stand your trial.

Here is something to consider, Mr. Pearcy. With all due respect, your face, home, occupation and actions suggest a certain amount of financial security and ease. A recent AP analysis found that nearly three-quarters of those killed in Iraq came from towns where the per capita income was below national average and cited diminished opportunities as the number one factor in higher enlistment rates in poor rural areas. In other words, many of these soldiers are poor with limited choices.

Here is something else to think about, Mr. Pearcy: Are you paying your federal income taxes this year? Fifty-one percent goes to fund war. Does that amount to some aiding and abetting?

Patricia Daugherty

I love Becca!

Re “Cold comfort” by Becca Costello (SN&R Nothing Ever Happens, February 22):

I’ve meant to write this letter for a long time. Consider it a fan letter—certainly I hope I do not come off as a sycophant.

Three words: I love Becca.

Her column is both clever and sunny consistently. Her winning smile welcomes me to read her each week. Kudos, Ms. Costello. Please keep up the good work.

Shane Eddings

Toxic detox

Re “Scientology does detox” by Luke Gianni (SN&R 15 Minutes, February 22):

You have done your readers a great and possibly dangerous disservice by publishing the claims of David Root, M.D., without also having rebuttal by a qualified clinician.

The claims that he is making about the Scientology purification run down, which is part of the religious practices of the Church of Scientology, have not been proven by any reputable clinical trial or study and can be dangerous to anyone not healthy enough to withstand long periods of exposure to the high temperature of a sauna or who may have actually come in contact with a caustic chemical. One part of this so-called treatment, although not mentioned by Dr. Root, are extremely high doses of niacin—so high that the patient becomes flushed. The Scientologists claim this is proof that the toxins are leaving the body; instead, it is a symptom of a niacin overdose.

The Church of Scientology is making a big effort nationwide to get government funding for this pseudo-scientific treatment under many different names, including Narconon and Criminon. Narconon is supposed to be a drug-treatment program and Criminon is supposed to be a criminal-rehabilitation program. Either way, they have the same goal: to make more money and to convert more people to be paying members of the cult that calls itself Scientology. This treatment is all part of the pipe dream of the deluded mind of science-fiction writer and all around con artist L. Ron Hubbard.

Aulton Ritch

Put the money where the kids are

Re “Penny-wise, people-foolish” (SN&R Guest Comment, February 15):

Rhonda Erwin and Seth Sandronsky make a good point about where our money should go. Spending for books, food and health care is smart policy for all Californians, and all Americans. Ours is a wealthy country and much of its wealth is centered in California. Yet in UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Center’s recent study of “child well-being” in 21 wealthy countries, the United States and Britain were ranked at the bottom. Lower-rankings were a result of less spending on social programs and a “dog-eat-dog” competitive environment. The findings were a consequence of long-term under investment in children.

Republicans and some Democrats—like Bill Clinton—have convinced some of our citizens that children are not a high priority in their culture war, and Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget confirms this policy. But it’s common-sense reasoning to encourage and support all parents in their effort to raise healthy, well-educated children.

Our current culture has been gentrified and worships money: witness a San Francisco grade school that has initiated a month-long crash course in “business fundamentals” leading to “kiddie MBAs” for 11 year olds. It is therefore up to us adults to make sure that our Legislature and the governor recognize that spending for books, food and health care for lower-income people is not only a moral imperative, it’s enlightened self-interest. Our future and their future are one and the same.

Mary Bisharat

We can’t handle the rail

Re “2 hours to L.A.—why not?” by Melinda Welsh (SN&R Feature Story, February 1):

I was very glad to read Melinda Welsh’s piece about the future of high-speed-rail service in California. I learned a lot, but nothing to keep me from laughing about the idea of high-speed-rail service anywhere in the United States.

Imagine, though, a high-speed-rail link between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. That line alone could go a long way to help subsidize a high-speed-rail system here in California. But no way, no how, in this country, by these citizens; its citizens aren’t up to any grand challenges.

William J. Hughes