Reviews | Give up the oil and the petro-dictators too

For the editor:

Regarding “How to Defeat Russia and Save the Planet,” by Thomas L. Friedman (column, March 30):

Mr. Friedman, from your lips to the ears of every American citizen and politician! Thank you for your thoughtful and uplifting plea on our need to break away from oil and embrace the promise of clean energy.

If drastic weather events, deadly forest fires, collapsing ice shelves and rising seas won’t convince us, perhaps terrifying war crimes, the refugee crisis and the nuclear threat created by Vladimir Putin will.

As the column points out, it is a matter of leadership and national will. Let’s channel the “greatest generation” before us, which puts the collective good before personal comfort. Now is the time to step in and literally save the world.

Gene E. Robertson
Mercer Island, Washington.

For the editor:

Thomas L. Friedman lists the many ways that weaning ourselves (and the world) from oil addiction can and should be pursued. And while I admire President Biden for the way he has handled the crisis in Ukraine so far, Mr. Friedman is right to call on him to do less “begging” of “petro-dictatorships” and a stronger leadership in explaining to Americans what sacrifices we must endure to enable a much better future.

And it’s an almost perfect confluence of events in which lead. Be bold. Be brave. Caution and a carefully planned strategy are essential, of course. But if we don’t seize this opportunity to defeat Russia and relentlessly supply Ukraine with everything it needs, the entire planet will forever be victimized and extorted by every thug with a nuclear weapon.

Ditch fossil fuels and do everything humanly possible to send the petro-dictators into a ditch.

MacKenzie Allen
Santa Fe, New Mexico

For the editor:

I appreciate Thomas L. Friedman’s analysis of the critical importance of stopping America’s reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable energies are essential elements of such a strategy, but I was surprised that there was no mention of small modular nuclear reactors of the fourth generation.

These designs address the shortcomings of first-generation reactors in terms of safety, waste management, cost and location. For power companies to meet aggressive carbon neutrality targets, nuclear generation capacity must be part of the mix and deserve government support similar to that given to renewables.

Charles Levenback

For the editor:

Another way to reduce energy consumption here in the United States would be to require all new building construction to meet Passive House standards. The Passive House Alliance states: “Passive construction comprises a set of design principles used to achieve a quantifiable and rigorous level of energy efficiency within a specific quantifiable level of comfort.

As a Passive House owner, I can attest to the significant energy savings and comfort provided by this type of building construction.

Ned Griffin
San Juan Islands, Wash.

For the editor:

I wonder how much gas we could save and the pollution we could avoid just by not using restaurant and cafe drive-thrus.

It’s very common to see few people inside the local Starbucks as eight or nine cars line up, burning gasoline for the roughly 10 minutes it will take each to drive to the window. Why not just park, turn off the engine and walk inside?

Jim Castagno
Iowa town

For the editor:

Ukraine and the United States present a stark contrast of courage and patriotism. While Ukrainians, led by a strong and gifted President, Volodymyr Zelensky, fight for their lives and their democracy, our own democracy has been and continues to be attacked from within (January 6, 2021) – an attack led by Donald Trump and members of his political party.

The tragedy in Ukraine is Russia’s doing, while America has only itself to blame. Although it breaks my heart to see one man, Vladimir Putin, cause such horrific death and destruction, I am disheartened by so many Americans who claim to be patriots but are wrapped in their own flag of power and ‘personal interest.

From what I see, Ukraine is “us”, while for many Americans it is “me”. This puts our democracy on a very loose footing. So, as we watch Ukrainians fight for their freedom, let’s remember what it meant to those who fought for our freedom. I think we conveniently forgot.

Bob Baselli
Seaford, NY

For the editor:

Re “Goodbye, Just Alienation” (opinion guest essay, April 2):

Miranda Featherstone may be ‘tired of judging strangers’ Covid choices’, but I’m tired of being endangered by strangers’ Covid choices. Let’s face it: contracting Covid is far worse than passing judgment on it.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman
Providence, RI

For the editor:

“No Mow May Is Saving Bees Across Wisconsin” (The World Through a Lens, April 4) recalls a decades-old policy that would benefit bees and other insects in addition to beautifying our country.

Lady Bird Johnson advocated against mowing the sides of highways, allowing wildflowers to bloom, as part of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965. Through the seasons, different flowers lined the roads and connected us to nature. These wildflowers would also attract bees and other insects whose numbers are dwindling.

Resurrecting this policy would have many benefits besides saving on mowing costs. We should bring him back.

Gloria W. Sage
Syracuse, NY

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