I was delighted to see the beauty of the Arctic
National Wildlife Refuge in Audubon's September-October 2001
issue. Money-hungry bureaucrats and corporations cannot see the beauty
of this refuge. Instead of the lush green of plants, they see only the
green of money. I really hope that no drilling will take place in this
Arctic wilderness. Men need to seek other energy sources that won't harm
our environment. With 38 mammal species that thrive in this landscape,
we must understand that this is their home. Think of the caribou that
run free without the worry of their greatest enemy, man. The Arctic wildlife
refuge must be preserved forever!
Red Bluff, CA
Thank you for the timely and informative report "The Last Great
Wilderness." Were it not for the incredible power of a small group
of very wealthy corporations, this proposal to despoil our last vestige
of Arctic wilderness would never be seriously considered by the Congress
and the President.
But the information I missed in your otherwise fine presentation is that
for several years now the United States has been EXPORTING nearly
1 million barrels of oil a day. Of the present Arctic oil production,
we are exporting about 26 million barrels a year. The legal ban on exporting
Arctic oil was readily agreed to when the Prudhoe field was proposed.
But to keep West Coast oil prices above the world market price, the Arctic
oil producers changed the regulations so they could export Arctic oil
to Asia. Why does anyone think the oil from ANWR will not be treated similarly?
It seems evident that this proposal is much less for the benefit of the
U.S. consumer than it is for the oil producers. Obviously, the wildlife
in ANWR make no contributions to the election of Presidents and Congress.
Your September-October issue is a disappointment to those of us
who wish for but never find a balanced treatment of George W. Bush by
those who consider themselves environmentalists. Our country is in a very
difficult position with respect to conservation, development, energy,
pollution, and the economy. Because Bush has experience in business, he
understands that complex, interrelated problems require more than just
a shower of money and a single, simple solution.
The moderate cutting of funding for environmental initiatives is a proven
management strategy often employed effectively by businesses when times
get hard. Agencies are forced to become more efficient and to decide for
themselves whether some of their initiatives should be at least temporarily
postponed or cut back. This is not the work of an anti-environment President,
but of one who understands priorities and management. The environmental
lobby attacks the President because that is how we in the United States,
being a single-issue society, respond to those who don't agree with us.
We apply a litmus test and attack all who fail it, without regard to any
other issue. I expect more from Audubon.
I presume that your resistance to every new energy-exploration initiative
means you are conceding that the United States must be entirely and eternally
dependent on imported oil. Your
comments on old oil are encouraging; not many who condemn drilling
in ANWR have any alternatives to suggest. I will continue to investigate
that alternative to determine if it is in fact a viable alternative, as
opposed to the usual wishful thinking (like solar and wind).
I'm sure you understand, although you may not admit it, that we are in
this energy mess because for eight years we had unbalanced government
action, an aversion to expanding our energy capacity, and no energy policy.
It is so much easier to use W.and the business community as scapegoats
for the inaction of the previous administration. How about trying a more
balanced treatment of this multi-faceted, interrelated set of problems
in the future, and leave the name calling to less respected publications?
Beyond Oil to . . . Dams?
This is in response to Glenn Garelik's article "Beyond
Oil" in the September-October 2001 issue.I am a solar engineer
working on solar air-conditioning systems. These systems run on heat and
use water as the refrigerant. They are one of the most cost-effective
and least well-known type of solar energy system. We have three systems
operating successfully in the Sacramento area, one for the past 15 years.
Bergquam Energy Systems
I was saddened to see that a writer in Audubon magazine was still
endorsing hydropower as a good alternative to other sources in "Beyond
Oil," the sidebar to the Arctic Refuge article. "Most efficient
U.S. power source...80 percent of generation by renewables... Dams can
harm aquatic flora and fauna..." (emphasis added).
Every dam destroys at least two ecosystems: the riverine ecosystem and
the riparian ecosystem alongside it, both of which are flooded. In addition,
the dam destroys or drastically degrades the downstream ecosystem. The
"rocks and ice" focus of America's largest environmental organizations
shows itself at its worst here. Big-river ecosystems have never caught
the eye of Audubon (or many others in the field), presumably because they
feature mud, brown water, and traces of inhospitable wetland. However,
the richest ecosystems in North America at the time of colonization--those
with the widest variety of bird, plant, land-animal, and aquatic life--were
the big alluvial rivers and their associated wetlands, riparian forests,
and floodplains. Audubon appears to be willing to tacitly endorse their
continuing destruction, which could begin to heal even now without the
"efficient, harmless" dams. Instead, species continue to fade
into extinction above and below the dams, from salmon on both coasts to
the glorious Missouri's pallid sturgeon, interior least tern, and piping
plover, not to mention many other fishes large and small. There is hardly
a healthy big-river ecosystem left in North America. Is this "efficient"?
The big rivers are, even now, incredibly beautiful and contain some of
the wildest, least developed, and most peaceful areas in the Lower 48.
Rivers begin to heal themselves immediately, without further intervention,
when those "harmless" dams are removed. By all means, preserve
the Arctic, but is it necessary to accept the destruction of an entire
class of foundation ecosystems in the Lower 48 to do so?
Editor's Note: The sidebar
"Beyond Oil" was not
intended to be a prescription of what the United States SHOULD do to replace
oil; it was merely an objective look at the various alternatives. In fact,
in the web
version of the piece, the author includes coal as one of the alternatives
to drilling in the Arctic refuge. It is not an alternative we recommend;
however, it is an alternative.
Audubon's goal is to present the facts and let them speak for themselves.
Readers should be aware, for instance, that 80 percent of "renewable"
power sold in this country is hydropower. They should also be aware that
hydropower is more efficient than any other type of power sold here. We
did not have room to go into great detail about the biological drawbacks
of dams, but we have published enough on the subject that we assumed our
readers could make the connection from the shorthand "can harm aquatic
fauna and flora."
© 2001 NASI
Sound off! Send a letter
to the editor about this piece.
Enjoy Audubon on-line? Check out our print