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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 7, 2009 at 6:00 AM

The “green bubble”

Paul J. Richards / Getty Images

A Greenpeace activist in a polar bear suit walks on the sidewalk outside the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. The group presented petitions as part of an effort to get Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to immediately rescind two Bush regulations that fundamentally undermine protections for the polar bear and thwart the regulation of global-warming pollution.

Green enthusiasts overlook realities of actions

Editor, The Times:

Generally I find George Will’s comments extremely ideological and predictable, but also provocative and irritating. However, I found his latest editorial to be right on the money [“Bursting ‘the green bubble,’ ” Opinion, June 5].

People are tripping over themselves to be fools for the environment. And, as Will notes, the Prius is an excellent example of how the environmental life-cycle costs of building a car with a nickel-based battery are overlooked by most shoppers because the car gets good gas mileage. Buying one is a feel-good exercise.

I would only add that social issues –or perhaps the collective issues confronting society, like environmental preservation, health care or even conducting foreign wars — should be coordinated by government, not left to voluntary, individual acts of kindness.

The idea that a hodgepodge of individual choices will create a coherent policy for society is misguided. Acting appropriately as a person is important, but it won’t get you a clean environment, better health care or peace in the Middle East. You need government working on these things.

Unfortunately, over the last decade the government has neglected to coordinate effective responses to crucial issues, even neglecting basic regulatory responsibility, essentially condemning individual Americans to ridiculous displays to address larger problems. We are participants in a kind of cargo cult of good-deed doing.

No surprise, of course, that the dynamic market economy is there to give us the tools and props to enable our efforts. This part always works.

— Eric Perkunder, Seattle

Columnist mocks issue with serious consequences

The extent to which glaring logical errors undercut George Will’s attempts to write profound editorials is stunning. In his latest effort, Will, using just one essay by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus in The New Republic, makes the utterly illogical assertion that efforts to “go green” are essentially useless and therefore the scientifically proven danger of global warming can safely be ignored.

While Shellenberger and Nordhaus are respected journalists, they are not climate scientists, and their argument that the infrastructure on which we depend “requires huge quantities of fossil fuels” is lethal precisely because it is ironically accurate. Thus the need to end this dependency on fossil fuels by embracing lifestyles that use less and differently generated energy. Will calls these efforts “ecology as psychology,” a mocking phrase that completely ignores the serious environmental consequences of an ever-increasing reliance on fossil fuels.

Given The Times’ traditional Fund for the Needy, I suggest that the editors start a George Will Fund for two purposes: hire a crane to dig his head out of the sand, and pay for him to take a Logic 101 course at a local community college.

— Michael W. Shurgot, Seattle

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