Letters

Readers respond to "A Green Revolt Against Bush," by Glenn Scherer. Plus: A reader explains why Jessica Lynch should return her Bronze Star.


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Salon Staff
July 25, 2003 12:01AM (UTC)

[Read "A Green Revolt Against Bush," by Glenn Scherer.]

Thanks for the illuminating article about the coalition of the unflinching, the group of governors about to change the politics of climate change for good. Too often, articles about environmental issues present a Pollyanna-ish view of our world. Some folks are prone to dismiss concerns about global warming based on the fact that it snowed lots last winter. Fortunately, more people are awakening to the understanding that the warming of the global climate doesn't mean a simple steady climb in temperatures worldwide (life should be so easy), but rather increased volatility in global climate systems -- just as heated water doesn't just heat up but also begins to roil and bubble as it comes to its boiling point.

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On the other hand, it's hard to find a realistic description of these issues without feeling completely drained of energy and hope for the future. True, we are living in difficult times. But there are so many possibilities, so many different ways to clean up this mess we've created for ourselves -- it is narcissistic folly to resign ourselves to our fate.

Scherer did an excellent job of demonstrating the power of local politics in shaping national policy. It was an inspiring read. So, where do we go from here? As Daniel Quinn's Ishmael (a gorilla) says: "You pride yourself on being an inventive species, don't you? So invent!"

-- Solvei Blue

Scherer asserts that there is a Bush doctrine that is opposed to the Kyoto Treaty:

"The agreement for mandatory greenhouse-gas emission caps could put the states on the road to compliance with the Kyoto climate-change treaty, an embarrassing rebuke to the president, who made a decision in 2001 to pull the U.S. out of negotiations on the pact. In another repudiation of Bush doctrine..."

But Scherer ignores the fact that the U.S. Senate under the Clinton administration overwhelmingly rejected the terms of the treaty by a vote of 95-0. By Scherer's analysis, presumably all 95 of those senators should feel equally rebuked by the governors' proposed actions to undermine the bipartisan national opposition to the Kyoto Treaty.

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-- Sarah Gabig

The news part of this article is fine; it's interesting how the northeastern states are banding together -- somewhat inspiring.

But what's with the dangerous polemic of pseudo-facts that make up the second half of the article? If you want to give a sketch of the hydrogen economy of the future, you need more data, and you need to be less gung-ho. For instance, what does wind power have to do with making hydrogen? We already have a lot of electricity, but we're not making any hydrogen. Second, what does wind power have to do with "cheap electricity"? So far it's barely competitive and only near places that happen to have a lot of wind. And it's my understanding that the efficiency of turbines is topping out, so this is about as good as it will get.

And enough with the "disasters costing us trillions" rhetoric: What about the data indicating that freak weather from El Niño actually generated billions in windfalls for the lucky areas that received it?

I think Salon needs to be more wary of such techno-worship; the article just goes too far too fast. You're the right people to do it; just do it better.

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-- George Showman

I'm pro-environment, but the article by Glenn Scherer is a marketing piece, not balanced reporting -- it does a disservice to the topic, as it raises my skepticism against my own preferences.

Discussing hydrogen engines reminds me of my wife's comment when I told her that Ford was working on a hydrogen-powered car. She replied, "The people who brought us the exploding Pinto? What are they going to call it, the Ford Hindenberg?"

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-- Steve Kelner

Kudos for this excellent article. I have a question about one thing, though: It's a truism in meteorology that the effect of seemingly small changes can be hard to predict. If wind power were generated on a truly massive scale, wouldn't this affect the weather? And would the effects necessarily be beneficial?

-- Ruchira Datta

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[Read "Saving Pvt. Lynch: The Made-for-TV Movie," by Barry Lando.]

It was wonderful to see Pfc. Jessica Lynch in such good spirits. She went through a terrible ordeal, and we are all proud of her as an American soldier. She received a Purple Heart, a POW medal, and a Bronze Star. I have a problem with her Bronze Star. It's not a huge problem for me, but it sticks in my craw and I can't seem to spit it out, despite the effort.

Here's a Bronze Star citation from another era:

"Private First Class Brendan E. McIntyre, 16065174, 82d Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, United States Army. For heroic achievement in action against the enemy on 10 October 1944 in Germany. At approximately 1100A two platoons of Company "A," 82d Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, were outputted southeast of Oidweilder, Germany, when a heavy artillery barrage wounded four men of an adjacent tank unit. With absolute disregard for his own personal safety, Private First Class McIntyre and three men left the safety of their foxholes and went to the aid of these men. Although the three other men were wounded by a following barrage, Private First Class McIntyre continued to give aid to all seven until they were evacuated to the rear. At approximately 1300A the same day, his Platoon Sergeant was wounded by artillery fire. Although he had been relieved from outpost, Private First Class McIntyre again went forward and evacuated the Platoon Sergeant to the rear. During the entire time, Private First Class Mclntyre displayed extreme courage and initiative beyond the call of duty. Entered Military Service from Michigan."

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Jessica Lynch was traveling in a supply vehicle that failed to keep up with a convoy, got lost, was attacked by Iraqi forces and rendered unconscious, and never fired her weapon. She was taken hostage and later rescued. To cheapen the Bronze Star by giving it away like a campaign ribbon does a great disservice to those previous awardees acting consciously and with extraordinary valor. It seems that over the years the benchmark for military valor has slipped considerably. If the Bronze Star is perceived as being ordinary, then it means nothing.

In addition to Jessica Lynch, every one of the soldiers killed in that same April 1st action received posthumous Bronze Stars. In Serbia during 2000, over a hundred Bronze Stars were awarded, mostly to officers who never saw a battlefield. Pfc. Lynch's citation -- and those of the other soldiers -- detailing the circumstances of the military action is not yet widely available, but when it does surface, I trust that the specific wording of the citations meets the historically minimal benchmark for heroism established in awarding the Bronze Star -- "heroic or meritorious achievement or service." By way of comparison of today's criteria, had Jessica Lynch performed to the level Pfc. McIntyre 60 years ago, she would probably have received the Medal of Honor.

Jessica Lynch rightly received two other medals -- the Purple Heart and a POW medal -- and she should wear them proudly. But she should also return the Bronze Star as a personal statement of integrity, recognizing that she did not meet the high standard set by the men and women of our armed forces over the years who so rightly deserved it.

-- Michael Sadler

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Salon Staff

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