Mail Call: Protecting Our Planet

Our Jan. 29 report on energy conservation warmed the cockles of readers' hearts. "Informative and timely," complimented one. Another called it "a scholarly piece." A third summed up what many others thought: "Let's work together to preserve our planet for future generations."

Your cover story on global warming and the greenhouse effect is a scholarly piece of work ("7 Ways to Save the World," Jan. 29) that packs a great deal of information, much of it not previously published. There is no denying the fact that developing countries like India and China aim to increase and boost their economic growth today, rather than gradually over a decade or so. These countries are blinded by their present growth of close to 10 percent and are polluting the world with carbon-dioxide emissions. They have no desire to have a new vision of conservation for coming generations. But we are all together in this doomed world, so it is the moral duty of all nations—rich or poor—to join forces to manufacture goods that do not require much energy and last longer. We need to promote clean energy by using more windmills and solar panels for domestic consumption and develop an alternative fuel that is environmentally friendlier than oil and gas. We are all in this global nightmare together until we adopt a new approach and vision of conservation, stop wasting natural resources and develop environmentally friendly services and goods for our children.
S.R.A. Shah
Vroomshoop, Netherlands

If we have just 10 years to save the world, the time to do something is now. We know that half the 24 billion tons of carbon dioxide generated by human activities each year is absorbed by forests and oceans. To prevent global warming, we need to protect and plant trees and encourage the use of bamboo, coir, jute and glass-fiber composite material, which are better substitutes for wood. Scientists need to emphasize and educate governments, architects, builders, developers, contractors, landscape architects and interior designers. Let us hope that we can all work together to preserve and protect our planet for future generations.
Naresh Jain
Bangalore, India

Thank you very much for Stefan Theil's informative and timely coverage on energy conservation. As he rightly points out, these new technologies and simple lifestyle changes may play an even greater role in global environmental protection than some alternative energy sources; they can certainly have a more immediate impact. However, I was surprised that he did not include a small insertion in the "Better Fridge" section, in which he details improving white goods, including "green" washers and dryers. Frankly, the latter are not really necessary, and even the "green" models can be quite wasteful. A truly simple, cheap way to save a large amount of power in your home is to hang clothes to dry. It seems old-fashioned, but it is surprisingly effective: usually in just one night your clothing is perfectly dry, and blessedly free of static to boot. I have lived many years in Japan and Kazakhstan, where hanging is much more common than mechanical drying, and while my American soul was hesitant at first, I have been completely won over. Finally, I do not think indoor space constraints should prevent most Americans from switching over; Japan is one of the most notoriously cramped countries on earth, and it works just fine there.
Forrest Dunbar
Petropavlovsk, Kazakhstan

Thanks for writing about the need to increase energy efficiency. But Stefan Theil and the people he quotes are all thinking in too small a dimension. A reduction of gasoline usage in America by 20 percent in the next 10 years breaks down to as little as 1.8 percent per year. What we need now is a "quantum leap" both in our attitudes and in technology to produce and use energy. The only way to achieve energy efficiency is with a system that connects household and industry energy needs with a decentralized, personal production of electricity powered by hydrogen. The idea is to motivate people to earn money with their car, producing electricity with a fuel-cell system, which is powered by hydrogen, produced by renewable energies, while standing idle. The beauty of this concept: all the components are available. All we need is the desire to use this system. This desire can come only from consumers, who will then be not only the users but also the producers of the energy themselves.
Arno A. Evers
Starnberg, Germany

That's an interesting article with good ideas, but I have a bone to pick with NEWSWEEK : I'm sick of hearing about the virtues of compact fluorescent lamps, and their one-sided presentation. Many people have problems with these lights and their spectrum. I find that they give me severe headaches, and I've had to stop working in some locations that switched to CFLs. I also suffer from moderate seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and the spectrum of CFLs worsens this considerably, while the spectrum from halogen lighting all but eliminates my SAD symptoms. Halogens are much more expensive to power than CFLs, but they are cheap medicine for me.
Bruce Bigelow
via internet

I was delighted by the cartoon (Jan. 29) in which President Bush asks his speechwriter for a line in his State of the Union address "that'll guarantee a bipartisan standing ovation." It produces the announcement "I hereby resign" to roaring bipartisan applause in Congress.
Hartmut Heuermann
Braunschweig, Germany