Destroy the Planet for Profit

Thank you for Wen Stephenson’s “Grassroots Battle Against the Big Oil Beast” [Oct. 28]. None of what Tar Sands Blockade has to say is easy to hear, but it was learned in extreme circumstances with many hard knocks. This fight is terribly difficult, and terribly urgent, but it isn’t new. The most vital thing for the climate change movement as a whole is to root itself in past lessons and honor the struggles of those who have been most brutalized by this system. Climate change will never be “solved” by those with a vested interest in keeping things as they are.


BP = Bitter Pill

I am a little miffed that I can read an excellent article like Wen Stephenson’s, which rails against Big Oil, only to find on the last page of the magazine a large advertisement for BP. Surely you can see the irony? As a result of the most catastrophic oil spill in this country’s history, I avoid patronizing any company that sells any BP product. I have read in The Nation about the continued aftereffects, environmental and fiscal, of this spill. This company has spent millions repairing its image, and your magazine is helping the cover-up. I’m saddened that you find it necessary to sell advertising to the demon that is BP.

Dan Robertson
warren, mich.

I do not appreciate the advertisement on the back cover. It is ironic to have a BP ad in a magazine that has articles and readers who oppose oil expansion and fracking. This sends a very mixed message. Please don’t run hypocritical advertising alongside your articles of integrity.

Geoff Larson
orem, utah

The Nation’s advertising policy states: “We accept [advertising] not to further the views of The Nation but to help pay the costs of publishing.” Most readers are aware that small journals of opinion like ours are struggling financially. Independent news media have been particularly battered by increasing production and distribution costs; competition from tabloids, bloggers and news aggregators; and a recession-fueled rollback of advertising dollars.

The BP ad in The Nation is not an endorsement and does not in any way affect the magazine’s content. (In fact, there is a firewall between our advertising and editorial departments.) These ads do not limit our voice, as the Stephenson article in the same issue attests.

We understand that readers would like consistent progressive content, including in our ads, but our longstanding policy of being an open forum for paid advertising has allowed us to continue publishing in these perilous times.

The Editors

More Flak

I am a longtime and loyal reader of The Nation, and could always count on getting a progressive view of issues not available elsewhere. But I am dismayed at the update of your page design; after reading two new-format issues, I must tell you that you have made your very vital information more difficult to take in. I found myself so distracted by the clutter that I didn’t finish reading the articles. It’s possible that this new design will attract younger readers, who are used to noise and clutter, but you risk losing the rest of us. Please, please go back to simplicity, and don’t let the medium interfere with the message.

Ruth Steinberg
tinton falls, n.j.

I love you guys, but really! The new design is ugly—sorry.  There’s no dignity in all that messy small-scale detailing—it’s unnecessary and utterly distracting. And it trivializes the content. Please lose it! Design matters a lot.

Henry Joyce

OK, Nation, enough is enough. The people who “re-designed” your pages must have been unclear on the concept of transmitting information through the printed page. Some of the boldface boxes are useful.

But one-
are an
insult to
to learn
from your

If your plan is to get people to stop reading the printed version and switch to the digital one, you might succeed with the first half of that.

Linda Sleffel
columbus, ohio

Let Sixty Golf Courses Bloom?

Uncle River from Pie Town [“Letters,” Sept. 23] will, I hope, get New Mexicans to think more about how much of our water is not going to a “beneficial use.” In this, the second-driest state in the Union, there are more than sixty golf courses! Huge amounts of water are being put to questionable use—solely for the amusement of a relative few with a lot of time on their hands. When these courses resemble the Gobi Desert, I’ll believe New Mexico is serious about water conservation.

Henry Z. Rothman

Uncle River Replies

Golf courses… certainly one of the more blatant extravagances for this climate, of which there are so many, large and small, glaring and insidious and, cumulatively, unsustainable. But there is also a matter of scale. Few would condemn a few flowers in the yard needing water diverted from outright survival. The water grab I wrote about, which would not be worth the colossal investment if it were not potentially colossally profitable, is on a whole other scale, even from sixty golf courses. It amounts to mining an entire aquifer—what is left of a Pleistocene lake—that is mostly nonrenewable. The amount of water the corporation wants to pump out per year is equal to approximately half the current total usage of the city of Albuquerque. That would keep a lot of golf courses green! It also would dry up people’s wells for miles around, cause subsidence, sinkholes, soil compaction, and all the associated environmental and economic damage. It might take ten or fifteen years for the damage to become widespread. But it would be permanent—at least until the next Ice Age refills the ancient lake.

Uncle River
pie town, n.m.

Correction in Bean Town

Michael Sorkin’s “Presidents and Libraries” [Oct. 28] mistakenly stated that the Kennedy Library is located at the Kennedy School at Harvard. The library is located not in Cambridge but in Boston.