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Web Letter

When I got to the end of this article, where we are told that if China continues to build new coal plants at its current rate, it will push the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere past the point of no return by 2020, I had one of those life-altering moments. I sat wondering whether all my current plans and battles were like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and wondered whether I should get on the next plane to China and chain myself to the newest coal plant that's in the works.

Perhaps in your next article on this topic, Mr. Parenti, you could also tell us what the US government and organizations here are trying to do get China to change its coal-burning policies, and how we can help. Apart from the efforts we have to make in the US to address global warming, this seems like the biggest priority yet.

Kyra Holland

New York, NY

May 18 2009 - 7:00am

Web Letter

My biggest question is, Why are we exporting as much coal as we can mine, and why is China bringing online one coal-fired plant a week? Anyone who has been glassed over sailing knows that wind is not always reliable, solar works only during the day and we haven't really solved the problem of storage, leaving large peaks and troughs. Are we just dabbling in boutique feel-good solutions to problems that really require some bold engineering solutions? Why are CEOs jetting back and forth to China looking for cheap labor to produce goods that they have to ship here to sell? Why don't they just import massive amounts of Chinese labor? Where is all the telecommuting that Alvin Toffler was talking about? Where are all the computers that were going to teach us to play the flute? Have we confused knowledge and information? Eh, by the way, the farther you ship electricity the more you lose? I don't care how intelligent your grid is, and China is one hell of a large country. I realize that hope is good for the human soul, but reality and starvation always interfere with pure hope.

James L. Pinette

Caribou, ME

Apr 17 2009 - 7:00am