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Sierra Magazine

Why Vote?

Editor's note: We received an exceptionally heavy volume of mail about September/October's article "Why Vote?", in which Carl Pope and Paul Rauber discussed the importance of the 2000 election: "This November, the electoral planets have aligned themselves so as to make major change possible, with all three branches of government in play as they have not been since 1952."

Of the letter-writers who mentioned their presidential pick, three-fourths were for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and one-fourth were for Democrat Al Gore. (When polled last summer, Sierra Club chapters leaned in the opposite direction. Thirty-nine chapters representing 414,000 members chose Gore and one representing 3,000 members chose Nader. The Sierra Club board of directors voted to endorse Gore in July.)

In one letter, John Mann of Somerville, Massachusetts, wrote about voting itself: "What an amazing privilege. When I vote, I feel I am in a special time in all of history, and I am grateful to all those men and women who have strived and in many cases died-and still die-to achieve what we can take for granted. For me, failing to vote would be stupid, stupid, stupid."

Resist Repose

Thank you, David James Duncan ("Man of Two Minds," September/October), for eloquently expressing the bittersweet joy/anger dichotomy of an environmentalist's life. I'm just at the beginning of my journey to protect the earth and have not yet done anything so worthy of merit as Terry Tempest Williams, Rick Bass, or the author, but Duncan's words inspire me to resist repose, confront my fears of frenzy, and please God become one of the "wildlife-loving madpersons, conservation kings, and eco-feminists." For in the end, as Duncan notes from Merton, it all comes down to love, and will ultimately bring us joy.

Laura Dravenstott
Foster City, California

In Self-Defense

The article by Curtis Moore in your September/October issue, "Who Owns Your Congressperson?", implies that my involvement in the climate-change issue was motivated by campaign contributions.

Climate change is a serious issue that deserves open and honest analysis and debate. We should continue to conduct serious research into its causes and effects. Legislation I introduced would provide $2 billion in additional federal funding for research and development of technologies to reduce greenhouse gases.

Campaign contributions had nothing to do with my involvement in this issue. I receive support from many individuals and political action committees. But my largest bloc of Mr. Moore's so-called "special-interest donors" are the people of Nebraska. Many Nebraskans, in particular agricultural producers, are very concerned about the impact of the Kyoto Protocol [to slow climate change] and the effectiveness of a treaty that leaves out three-fourths of the world's nations and decimates our economy. That is not the responsible way to address a serious issue.

Chuck Hagel
United States Senator (R-Nebraska)

On Abortion

Thank you for carrying the article "Tempest in a Pill Box" ("Lay of the Land") in your September/October issue. Since I consider overpopulation our most serious environmental problem, I strongly favor ready access to safe early abortions, and thus ready access to RU-486, which is widely available in other parts of the world.

Jerome Kohl
Santa Rosa, California

Whether to begin a family, or increase it, is a decision of the kind humans always make and always have made. But once a person makes his decision to end a life, a serious threshold has been crossed. With what ease, in this push-button world, are we expected to accept the decision to kill! To make the decision, there is something killed in the spirit of the person who makes it-something that may not be restorable.

Blair Campbell
Elsah, Illinois

Editor's note: The Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing of the abortion pill RU-486 in September.


We regret that our photo of Longs Peak on page 49 of the September/October issue was flip-flopped, producing a mirror image of the famous mountaintop.

Our "Mixed Media" video review in the same issue was wrong about the birth of the San Francisco-based bicycle event Critical Mass: It started in 1992, not 1995. And there were 110 arrests in the event in July 1997, not 250.

Sierra welcomes letters from readers in response to recently published articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; fax (415) 977-5794; e-mail

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