If you really want to help the Greeks—poignantly portrayed by Maria Margaronis in "Greece in Meltdown" and in your lead editorial, "The Failure of Austerity" [March 19]—take a vacation there, book an island cruise, spread some money in the birthplace of Western civilization. And when you see the tragedy of austerity, imagine it as a possible coming attraction for the United States.
Victor Navasky’s comments on Il Manifesto are right on target ["Noted," March 19]. Il Manifesto is not only an excellent journal of opinion; it is probably the best daily newspaper in Italy, published six times a week, with remarkable coverage of national and world events.
Our Pals to the South
In "Genocide on Trial" [March 19], Laura Carlsen aptly summarizes the perfidy of US-backed regimes in Central America. Gen. Rios Montt is also a graduate of the infamous US Army School of the Americas (long ago renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). Guatemala’s current president, Otto Perez Molina—another SOA graduate, a former chief of G2 and a CIA asset—was implicated in the assassination, in 1994, of Judge Edgar Ramirez Elías Ogaldez.
Killing the Planet Softly
Gig Harbor, Wash.
Hooray for Michael Klare’s March 19 "The New Fossil Fuel Fever," which explains so clearly the dangers, costs and limits of fossil fuels. The conclusion is obvious: we need an immediate, huge investment in clean energy.
Two of Michael Klare’s excellent points need more emphasis. The first is that the economic benefits of unconventional oil (tar sands) and natural gas (hydrofracking) are less than supposed. If the true long-term environmental cost were charged, plus a depletion tax for using up a nonrenewable resource, the profit would disappear and alternative energy would look better. The second point is the "energy trap," as physics professor Tom Murphy calls it. Just when you need lots of surplus energy to build a renewable energy economy, it’s not there. That is, if delayed, investment in a postcarbon economy may never occur. We’ll simply live with less, as vested interests fight to keep their share of a shrinking pie.
Michael Klare rightly focuses on the notion of a fossil fuel bridge to real alternatives, noting that a bridge with no alternatives is a bridge to nowhere. One of the bridge pieces he left out is the link between gas sand-frack drilling and the silica-sand mining used in the process. The upper Mississippi River Valley from Wisconsin and Minnesota south to Iowa and Illinois contains silica sand used in fracking. The mining companies have rapaciously descended, buying property from farmers for too-good-to-refuse prices and enlarging existing aggregate mines promising jobs and a boost to the local economy. All without thought for the environment or the people who live in and around the mines.