From Our Readers
Having lost an engine to a bird in an Air Force F-4, “Clearing the Air” [May-June] makes me happy that the bird hit an engine intake instead of the cockpit. The ground crew hosed it out, and the plane flew again shortly thereafter. In 1988 I realized we had what we needed technology-wise to do collision avoidance on all vehicles. Indeed, aircraft are a small part of the problem; the animals and people we slaughter on our highways are much higher in number, and we as a society accept it, preferring to have a radio instead of collision avoidance. After my time in the Air Force, I worked as an antenna applications engineer. I drew on that experience to design a simple collision-avoidance system I called “flyeye.” It was well received but not financially supported. We are ostriches when it comes to this sort of thing, and it costs us dearly. People get very excited about the way wind turbines chop up birds, yet in 1930 we knew how to build efficient wind devices that would allow MiG 29-type flows where the birds would never get to moving parts.
Speaking of wind, the 2,700 wind turbines mentioned in “Lassoing the Wind” [Field Notes, May-June] have yet to make a dent in our energy imports. We knew how to do wind right when we built NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) Ames’s low-speed wind tunnel. We need energy, not toys that stand tall as man’s greatest monument to his own ignorance and lack of attention to what he has already learned.
Hugh Coleman, Inventor
In his book, Tar Sands, author Andrew Nikiforuk contends that the practice of carbon capture and storage (CCS), which you referred to in “Get Down” [Field Notes, May-June], has logistical problems: Thirty percent of the energy needed to operate the system of capture would have to come from a coal-fired plant (therefore requiring more mining and burning of coal); it would necessitate “a gathering, compression, transportation, and storage industry whose annual volume throughput would be slightly more than twice that of the annual volume throughput of the world’s crude oil industry with its immense networks of wells, pipelines, compressor stations, tankers and above and underground storage”; and there would be a problem of leaks and migration through groundwater channels.
The danger is that CCS will be perceived as a panacea, with its large-scale implementation and climate change mitigation always “just a few years away”—which will give the coal, tar sands, and oil shale extraction industries cover to continue massive destruction of habitat and fool us into complacency with this technological fix that’s always just over the horizon.
Regarding the special pullout section on feed-in tariffs [“Clean Break,” March-April]: Global warming concerns all of us dramatically. Using solar and wind power are terrific alternatives to our dependence on oil. I would love to be able to afford solar panels for my home, but it isn’t financially possible, and what few rebates the government offers don’t come close to offsetting the thousands of dollars it costs to install such units. What I’d like to see instead of our government wasting $800 billion to bail out greedy financial institutions is for the government to use that money to create jobs making and installing solar units on all government and other high energy-consuming buildings. Let the government set the example, and maybe with the mass production of solar and wind energy units, the average citizen who works just to make ends meet could afford to help save planet earth.
Editor’s Note: For more on federal efforts to create “green” jobs and expand the renewable-energy sector, see “Work Plan.” The U.S. House of Representatives has also launched a plan to reduce the Hill’s carbon footprint (see “Capitol Gains,” March-April).
To fix the problem of slugs in the garden [Green Guru, March-April], I didn’t buy hens (as one reader suggested), although I was tempted. But for years I’ve saved eggshells, crushed them, and encircled those plants being eaten by slugs. They don’t like going over the shells and consequently leave the plants alone. By fall the shells have been worked into the ground and add calcium to the soil.
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