Don't put economy and ecology at risk and Sound assessment | Feb. 23, letters
We must shift to new energy sources
The Feb. 23 letters regarding the risk of drilling for oil off the Florida coast, and the Thomas Friedman column, Global Weirding, make salient points about the direction our country's energy policy should take, but there are two larger points that must be emphasized.
First, the oil-fired progress enjoyed by America in the 20th century is now on the decline. Experts in the field predict global peak production will be reached within 40 years, and untapped oil resources in our country will do little to change that outcome. As oil fields pass their peak production points, the cost of extracting the remaining oil increases substantially.
This paints a picture of an aging American oil infrastructure relying on foreign oil as oil supplies decline within the next 40 years and the cost increases. When it is gone, it is gone forever. More frightening in this scenario is the increasing pressure our oil-based economy will have on our politics and foreign policy.
Secondly, the global warming issue does not just encompass the warming of our planet. It also includes the amount of carbon emissions humans are releasing into our air that will ultimately affect our health if not addressed. Global fossil carbon emissions more than quadrupled from 1950 to 2004. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that globally we now put 8 billion metric tons of carbon into our air every year. With the industrial growth of China and India in the next 20 years, the amount of carbon emissions will soar.
So before you complain about the debt burden we may be leaving our grandchildren by funding alternative, clean and renewable energy sources, contemplate that if we do not take action now, an oil-fired America may, in the not so distant future, not have any oil left to burn — a much more dour legacy for our descendants.
In the last four centuries, wind power in northern Europe gave way to coal power in Great Britain, and coal power gave way to an oil powered America. Oil will give way to renewable alternative energy sources — it is just a matter of time. America needs to be out in front on this change.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
Driven to bewilderment | Feb. 26, story
Renewing driver's license is looking hopeless
Help! I will be needing to renew my driver's licence next year and I have an unusual situation.
I was born on April 18, 1930, under the name Henry Frank Wycoff, not entirely sure where. My unwed mother decided to use her maiden name and called me Harry Frank Poortstra until she began to understand that no one could spell Poortstra. So I became Harry Porter.
If the birth certificate did exist (which it doesn't) it would have no relationship to me! When I enlisted in the military, they accepted my school records.
I have recently thought, I might want to take a cruise, but can you imagine what I would go through to get a passport? I wouldn't even try. I have my service record and acceptance at VA medical services as a World War II veteran but have no birth certificate or passport.
I fully understand the urgent need for this documentation, but I fear that at my age I will not live long enough to clear all this up in time to renew my license or ever take a cruise.
Harry Porter, Sun City Center
Driven to bewilderment | Feb. 26, story
Another bureaucracy run amok. Okay, I understand some of the new requirements to get a driver's license, such as needing a birth certificate or a passport based on your birth certificate.
I don't know about you, but my Social Security card says, "For Social Security and tax purposes — not for identification." So are we breaking a regulation of a different government agency by using our Social Security cards as a form of identification?
Also required are two items showing my home address, such as a mortgage or utility statement, voter registration card or vehicle registration. These are great, except guess what? I used my driver's license to verify my address for each of these. In other words I use a document to verify my address for a driver's license that I used my driver's license to verify my identity and address to obtain.
I'm confused, but then that seems to be the goal or most government agencies.
Jim Miller, Riverview
Patriot Act extended | Feb. 26
Acting responsibly at last
So an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House and Senate voted to extend the extensive surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act, notwithstanding years of strident denunciations of the "abuse of privacy rights" by these same Democrats when these provisions were implemented by the Bush administration.
Meanwhile, at the U.S. Supreme Court, the president's solicitor general argued vigorously for sustaining legislation that imposes criminal penalties on one who extends any support for an organization designated by the State Department as a terrorist group. Responding to a challenge from one of the justices that many people may choose to contribute to the "humanitarian" programs supported by these groups, she responded — absolutely accurately — that donating funds to Hamas to build homes simply frees them to use other funds to build bombs.
Ah, how different it all looks when you now have the responsibility of protecting Americans from terrorist attacks. As citizens, we should be pleased with the newly found sense of responsibility on the part of Democratic leaders. As voters, we should be outraged at their irresponsible posturing against these same programs during the prior administration.
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg
Clueless newbies in the driver's seat Feb. 26, Daniel Ruth column
What we have wrought
Daniel Ruth hit the nail on the head, several times! Clueless politicians and inane ballot initiatives, indeed. In theory, we live in a representative democracy, whose politicians supposedly represent "the people." If clueless politicians represent the people, what does that tell us about "the people?"
We have people more interested in American Idol than fulfilling their duties as members of that representative democracy. We have people who continue to elect clueless representatives and who fail to inform themselves before going to the polls — if they even bother to go to the polls.
People who justify failure to perform their democratic duty with the stupefying mantra, "They're all corrupt." Well, "they're all corrupt" because the people fail in their duty as members of a representative democracy. "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
Mike MacDonald, Clearwater