Power Brokers

5 minute read

Re Bryan Walsh’s “The Gas Dilemma” [April 11]: Will it matter that we have lots of gas for power if we have large swaths of our country polluted and unfit for human life? I wish I were more inclined to believe the industry won’t just sell all the gas overseas for quick profit and violate its solemn promises to safeguard our water and earth. The BP oil spill, Japan’s nuclear disaster and the knowledge that our nuclear industry does not have adequate safeguards make it hard to sleep at night. Let’s go solar and wind.
Cecilie Bodnar, CANANDAIGUA, N.Y., U.S.

Proponents of natural gas, Walsh writes, say the energy source will “make it a little easier to handle the challenge of climate change.” Hoping to tackle an already hopeless challenge by burning more fossil fuel would appear worthy of an ostrich. It is important that we muster the political will to switch to renewables now.
Mike Wintzer, COOPER CITY, FLA., U.S.

Why this obsession with nonrenewable resources as a means for energy production? Shale gas, like any other fossil fuel, will exhaust itself in a relatively short time but not before inflicting unacceptable environmental and social costs, changing the landscape beyond recognition. Humans have the technology to convert totally to renewable energy within a reasonably short time, especially solar and wind, if only politicians and business leaders had the will and courage to drive this development full steam ahead.

With all its high environmental costs, shale gas can’t really be expected to solve the energy crisis. TIME should research and do a cover story on thorium as a long-term solution to generating energy. This low-level radioactive metal used in a liquid fluoride thorium reactor could be a safe, clean and almost limitless source of energy.

North America leads the Western world and it must lead the move away from hydrocarbons. The environmental effects are all too obvious: just consider the Gulf oil spill. Research must now focus on developing alternative technologies, before the gains from further oil and coal developments are outweighed by toxic legacies.

I was disappointed in how little time you spent addressing the relationship between natural gas and climate change. You say gas’s benefit is “less clear-cut, but it’s there.” There is a growing body of evidence, most importantly work about to be published by Robert Howarth, that it’s not there. If the production of shale gas moves us in the wrong direction regarding climate change, that is a very serious mistake. This question deserves the thorough coverage for which your magazine has distinguished itself.
Wes Ernsberger, OWEGO, N.Y., U.S.

As the 2010 documentary Gasland makes clear, water contamination caused by hydraulic fracking is very real. (In the film, a man holds a lighter next to water running from his kitchen faucet, creating a fireball explosion.) Hopefully the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not been contaminated, too, by contributions from energy-industry lobbyists.
Peter O’Reilly, JERSEY CITY, N.J., U.S.

Japan Reborn
In his Essay “A Time for Renewal,” Michael Elliott shows some appreciation for Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan while acknowledging how difficult it must be for him (and his predecessors) to be effective in a political environment where the Establishment renders the democratic process ineffective [April 11]. Having spent 10 years in Japan, I must say Japan never became more than a token democracy. However, the young generation is reaching for new values. I therefore agree with Elliott’s conclusion that Japan can change. In the wake of this catastrophe, it will do so soon.
W.A. Mulock Houwer, SEILLANS, FRANCE

Working for Peace
As a former teacher of English in Sidon, Lebanon, who had Palestinian students from the Ein el-Helweh camp and as someone who has been working for peace for 50 years, I saw great hope in the picture of Fadi Quran and his March 15 movement [Palestinian People Power, April 11]. I hope the U.S. will look to people like Fadi to help mediate a peaceful settlement between the Palestinian territories and Israel.
Rita Reynolds Gehrenbeck, VADNAIS HEIGHTS, MINN., U.S.

Toward the end of an otherwise important piece, Joe Klein destroys his credibility by referring to “near daily outrages perpetrated by Jewish settlers.” What outrages? I do not recall ever reading of situations in which Jewish people, settlers or otherwise, perpetrated the sort of unprovoked atrocities committed by Arabs. The recent stabbings of the Fogel family, which you did not cover, have nothing to do with Palestinians’ desire to control their own destiny.
David Lubin, WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., U.S.

Nonviolence among Palestinians is not new. The recently released book Popular Resistance in Palestine , by Mazin Qumsiyeh, documents over 100 years of everyday acts of resistance, with suicide bombings and rocket attacks as the exception. The world needs to hear more about these courageous acts.
Peggy Vander Meulen, GRAND RAPIDS, MICH., U.S.

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