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We're not free to abuse our environment

Addicted to oil or freedom | July 4, Connie Schultz column

We're not free to abuse the Earth Dolly Baus' addiction to freedom is a poor excuse for driving a megasize gas-guzzler. "It's a free country" has been turned into a shield used to deflect — or evade — and repudiate the responsibility to minimize one's damage to the environment.

Nature does not allow for waste, inefficiency or excess, yet Americans have become masters of the art. And we are at our best when it comes to our most valuable resources, namely food, water, money and oil. We throw away enormous quantities of food, on top of eating excessively. Is it a coincidence we have escalating food prices and bulging waistlines?

We treat water as an infinite and imperishable resource, using large amounts on decorative lawns and using rivers and oceans as trash receptacles. Is it any wonder water shortages and ocean dead zones are increasing?

We have been spending money we didn't have on things we don't need while taking on more and more debt. Could that have anything to do with the troubled economy and deflating dollar?

We have dismissed conservation with regard to oil over the past 25 years, behaving as though it were endless in supply and innocuous in its use. Now we are stuck with high prices and the threat of global warming.

It has become painfully clear that not only are there consequences to our actions but that they can also occur to us in our lifetime — not just to some anonymous generation years from now. So we might want to focus on our genuine needs, minimize our impact on the planet and accommodate nature's zero tolerance for waste, inefficiency and excess. Freedom does not provide a license to do otherwise.

Chip Thomas, Tampa

Addicted to oil or freedom | July 4, Connie Schultz column

An SUV can help you

be ready for the storm

Dolly Baus' reasons for owning a big SUV are realistic and understandable.

While we own a smaller SUV, I have also received a few "funny" looks when fueling it up. Our reasons for owning this SUV are much different than Dolly's. We live in the great storm state of Florida. There have already been recorded storms with sustained winds over 175 or 180 mph. I know of nothing that can withstand those types of winds. I know of no place to hide in Florida should such a storm come this way.

If I had to leave due to this type of storm, I know that I have the power to pull my enclosed 6- by 12-foot trailer. I know that I can carry an extra 100 gallons of fuel, enough food and water for a full month. Also I will be able to take not only my family, but also my pets.

To answer Dolly's question about doing a better job with energy, I can reply that we have. In the past few days Los Angeles has received its first retail hydrogen fuel pump! When hydrogen comes to Florida we will donate our Jeep to charity.

Raye Minor, St. Petersburg

New thinking is needed

Do these Americans who are interested in fostering offshore oil drilling see themselves making any sacrifices or changing lifestyle to limit gas consumption?

Grass-roots persons could bring forward some good creative ideas about what to do. For example, I could see taking advantage of some kind of car-pooling, ending having only one person per car. Limiting cars would mean less carbon dioxide in the air, making us healthier people.

Some Americas little realize that carbon emissions from the United States and other countries have far-reaching effects around the world. I'm thinking about Kessai Boseto, who lives in a small fishing community in the Solomon Islands where fishing to support his family has been his mainstay. Because the local seawater temperature has risen, the tuna have moved north to cooler waters. The temperature rise was not caused by anything he or his fellow islanders have done.

We in the United States can lead the way by diminishing dependence on oil, gas and coal, which emit large amounts of carbon dioxide. We need to use less energy now while rapidly developing clean and renewable energy such as wind, solar, tidal, small-scale and local biofuels. When looking at the entire process, corn ethanol does not significantly reduce carbon dioxide, and nuclear energy is too expensive and too dangerous.

The era of cheap oil has ended, and finding new sources of oil will not solve the problem. What is needed to save our planet is concerted effort, moral conviction, much creativity and good financing, plus a realistic government policy.

Marilyn Elsen, Dade City

Sheriff wants to cut gas use | July 4, story

Drive sensibly

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee's pro- active lead to reduce gasoline use by his deputies is just the kind of fiscal and environmental leadership other government and business leaders should follow. In the long run, we all pay for the gasoline used by government and business whether through taxes or the prices we pay for goods and services.

While I try to drive in ways that will increase my miles per gallon, county and city cars, as well as those from power companies and FedEx, UPS, and even the U.S. Post Office, whizz by me on the street and charge up to the next red light, wasting their fuel.

We all have to work together to conserve energy, and responsible driving that makes the most out of what we have is an excellent way to help. My hat's off to Sheriff Gee. We need more leaders to follow his stand.

Virginia Lazar, St. Petersburg

Leave cruisers at work

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee says deputies can cut back on gas by avoiding idling and not running the air conditioning in their cars. The biggest way to save gas may be by having them drive their personal cars to and from work just like every other working person has to do. They're not on duty 24/7, so why do they need to have police cars parked in their driveways?

This way the different shifts could share the use of vehicles, which would also cut down on the number of cars needed. What a savings!

Thomas Moore, Riverview

I'm found | June 29, Floridian story

A musician who was missed

Just a line to tell you how much we enjoyed your article on Stewart Kitts. He was the Florida Orchestra musician I always looked for since we subscribed to the Pops series for more than 15 years. I often wondered what happened to him. I enjoyed his playing so much.

That was a terrific, well-written article. Thank you, I will keep that section. It was also respectfully written.

Maryann Mutti, Largo

We're not free to abuse our environment 07/08/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 12, 2008 11:37pm]
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