Sierra Magazine: Explore, enjoy and protect the planet.
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LETTERS | What our readers have to say

Readers are encouraged to post comments online. You can also e-mail us at sierra.mail@sierraclub.org. Please include your name, city, and e-mail address or phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

As a Missouri native and former employee at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, I was so excited to see "our rivers" in Sierra ("Elbows Deep," May/June). But as I read the article, I was very let down. Mr. Abrahamson made the people of the area out to be little more than backwoods hillbillies and the National Park Service rangers no more than mall cops.

Also, for all the beauty that abounds in the springs, the wetland areas, and the rivers themselves, none of the photos did the area any justice at all.
Jen Shelby
Charleston, Missouri

The article on coal extraction in Montana for exportation to Asia again raised the question of how to stop the export of natural raw materials from the United States ("Warren Buffett's Coal Problem," May/June). It seems totally senseless to allow mountaintop removal or other destructive practices associated with coal mining when the product is being exported. The same goes for crude oil and timber. If we can't control the fate of raw materials taken from private lands, can we not at the very least stop exports from federal lands?
John E. Morrison Jr.
Unicoi, Tennessee

Many practitioners of traditional eco-logical knowledge believe that the reason the oak trees are sick and disappearing is that we have forgotten them ("Grapple: On the One Hand . . . ," May/June, page 30). It is a totally different philosophy than the perception that oak trees are dying because of an invasive pathogen.

"Get out there and gather even if it's one basketful," says Julia Parker, a Miwok-Kashaya Pomo basket weaver, "so the acorn spirit will know you are happy for the acorn, and the next year the acorn will come." Eating acorns helps us reconnect to the whole web of life. After 15 years, science has yielded little relief for the trees that were once the staple food for three-quarters of all Native Californians.
Jolie Lonner Egert
Posted on sierraclub.org/sierra

That's me, in the yellow kayak ("Last Words," May/June)!
Tom Stock
Posted on sierraclub.org/sierra


Warren Buffetts Coal Problem

As a longstanding member of the Sierra Club who also happens to be familiar with some of your legal activities, I find it both somewhat dismaying and a disservice to your members that you do not highlight the achievements of the organization in the regulatory arena. Recent news that comes to mind are the many coal plants whose construction or expansion have been halted by the efforts of your lawyers. It is my impression that the single biggest impact Sierra Club has on the health of the country's environment is through legal actions. Yet these laudable efforts seem to be completely ignored by the magazine. Why
Charles Sharpless
Associate Professor of Chemistry
University of Mary Washington
Fredericksburg, Virginia

I enjoyed the great article on Warren Buffett and noted especially the comments on the Power River Basin and his railroad company. David Cay Johnston, in his superb The Fine Print (2012), thoroughly details the corrupt practices on BNSF and how they rig high prices and screw their customers, don't maintain the tracks, and are environmentally abysmal. I highly recommend the book.
Dan Eggleston

"Spout" (May/June 2013)

The folks who grouse at adventure sports (e.g., windsurfing) articles forget two things. One, it can't all be doom and gloom or we (as an audience) will tune out. Two, it is a great way to attract and retain readers, especially younger people who may not otherwise be interested. It's the variety, and excellent content, that make Sierra magazine my favorite of all the environmental publications I receive.
Diana Hulboy
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A couple of letters published this month about last month's article on wind power got my goat. There may be "skepticism" about wind power, but unless people are willing to drastically reduce their power consumption (all forms), we are going to need non-carbon and -nuclear based electricity. The long-term costs of these "traditional" sources are much greater than wind. Aesthetic considerations are important, but of course they are subjective, and, I agree that the carbon footprint of building and installing wind turbines (and PV) is not insignificant. But it must pale compared to combustion-based generation. Stop griping and start walking! And downsize!
Gred Gross
Burnsville, North Carolina

I think that Sierra should be applauded for showcasing the recreational opportunities that the environment provides, whether it be wind sport, skiing, snorkeling, or some other outdoor activity. Far from damaging the environment, these activities inspire a sense of wonder and appreciation of the natural world and can serve as a catalyst for people getting involved in protecting landscapes and coastal areas. Thank you, Sierra, and keep up the good work!
Paul Winters
Framingham, Massachusetts

Willis Scotts otherwise excellent response in your last issue to the puff piece on industrial wind energy in the March/April issue (Three Wind Myths) misses one major problem: the serious health effects experienced by people living in the vicinity of wind turbines: headaches, nausea, vertigo, sleeplessness, etc. The lives of many people are being ruined because the wind industry and government officials refuse to recognize that turbines require setbacks of as much as 1.25 miles from human habitation. As a result, towns like Falmouth, MA are torn by bitter controversy and opposition to wind turbines continues to grow. Environmental organizations should be taking the lead in protecting environments in which human beings live from the effects of industrial wind turbines, not blindly acting as shills for the wind industry.
John F. Sears
Hawley, Massachusetts

""Repurpose" (May/June 2013)

In "Umbrella Tote," your correspondent Wendy Becktold mentioned minimizing the use of plastic. She ends by saying, "Now I just have to figure out what to do with that pile" [of plastic] "under the sink."

New York State recycles plastic bags. (New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Re-Use and Recycling Law, Title 27). When I have collected a full plastic bag, I can take it to Staples or A&P, among other retail locations and put it in the recycle bins set up specifically for that purpose.

I believe Colorado is another state with this law in place.

No need to watch the pile under the sink grow . . .
Karin Mango
Mount Kisco, New York

"Enjoy" (May/June 2013)

I was disgusted to see a product called Justin's Honey Almond butter promoted on a page called "Enjoy/The Green Life," when the product contains palm oil that is promoted as being a "green" product because it comes form a sustainable farm. When I think of all the harm palm oil plantations are doing around the world and think of what I saw in Borneo where the jungle is decimated by palm oil plantations, it makes me sick. How can the Sierra Club countenance such a product?? If that's how you try to save rain forests and jungles and promote "green" living, count me out!
Amy Kvalseth

Why did Jane Goodall not talk about 50 percent drop in honey bee population or the 94 percent drop in Monarch butterflies in Mexico preserve due to GMO insecticide practices ? Mexico Butterfly Preserve went from 50 acres millions of butterflies on huge fir trees to 3 acres this years counts since 1980 lowest ever! Where is your coverage of Monsanto protection act ? The Internet is on fire with outrage on this snuck in bill that protects Monsanto from lawsuits! Plants cannot pollinate themselves. Come on, Sierra. Protect the planet! Write about this!
Tom Sebas
Honolulu, Hawaii


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