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Originally published November 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 2, 2007 at 2:47 PM

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"Woohoo -- Seattle met the Kyoto Protocol goals!"

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Toxic territory

Were emissions reduced in the atmosphere or just on paper?

Editor, The Times:

Woohoo — Seattle met the Kyoto Protocol goals! ["Seattle reports milestone in cutting emissions," Times, page one, Oct. 30.]

Well, OK, I'm not that excited about this news. Yah, sure, it is nice to reduce emissions and save energy as that makes sense. But sense only goes so far in this city. In this case, part of this reduction deal "bought greenhouse-gas offsets — essentially paying someone else to stop polluting as much."

I remember seeing something about the city sending $600,000 to Kentucky as an offset payment. I also think a court said it was illegal for City Light to spend (my read: squander) funds this way ["City Light can't buy pollution 'offsets,' court says," Local News, Jan. 19].

I sure hope the mayor and cohorts walk the talk for the next round of efforts to reduce emissions, by selling all of their cars and riding only buses or bikes. Lead the parade, you Kyoto enthusiasts!

— Larry Jacobson, Seattle

Put out that tailpipe

Twenty years ago, smoking was permitted in most restaurants and public buildings. Nowadays, smokers have accepted that they have no right to force nonsmokers to put up with secondhand smoke.

In a similar way, society needs to make the transition to a mindset in which driving a single-occupancy, non-electric passenger car is viewed as selfish, anti-social behavior.

Driving causes traffic congestion and noise. It contributes to global warming. It worsens the trade deficit. It makes America dependent on Middle Eastern oil kingdoms that have been breeding grounds for terrorists. It corrupts our foreign policy. And it pollutes the air, harming people's health.

A recent medical study showed that people living within several hundred meters of major freeways, like I-405 and I-90, have reduced lung function. So, if you drive a car, you are harming people's health.

We need to take drastic steps to encourage the use of public transportation, carpooling and telecommuting and to discourage our harmful dependence on passenger cars.

— Donald Smith, Bellevue

A man's home is a hassle

The proposal by U.S. Rep John Dingell, D-Mich., to roll back the home-mortgage interest deduction for homes larger than 3,000 square feet, will unfairly penalize those homeowners who have already made big changes, on their own initiative, to reduce their carbon footprint [" 'Carbon tax' goes after mortgage deduction," News, Oct. 13].

If you want to institute a carbon tax, the fairest way to do it is to tax the fossil fuels themselves.

My house is slightly larger than 3,000 square feet, but it is heated with a geothermal heat pump, fed by electricity that is mostly from renewable sources, and lit with mostly CFL lighting. My wife does not work outside the home; she drives fewer than 3,000 miles a year. I commute 50 miles daily, but I'm doing it in a diesel pickup running exclusively on 99 percent biodiesel.

I am all for reducing carbon emissions but I would strongly oppose being penalized, when I am already doing things way beyond the average citizenry, to reduce my carbon footprint. If anything, I should be getting some kind of tax credit.

Dingell's proposal sounds like more corporate favoritism: Let's stick it to the average homeowner, who can't fight back the way Big Oil and Big Coal can.

— Karl Nelson, Monroe

Few bees or not few bees

The year is 2027 and you'll be reading a headline like: Agribusiness Saves the World! Yes, now science and corporations have finally engineered new strains of fruit, vegetables and nuts that don't require pollination by bees.

If you haven't heard, bees are dying by the millions from something called Colony Collapse Disorder. Bees are leaving their hives and don't have the navigational ability to return. Possible causes are mites, monocrops, cellphones, malnutrition and pesticides. Clearly, the problem requires studying.

How many examples of science contradicting the profit interests of corporations do we need before we see real government policy change?

Pesticides contain xenoestrogens, neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters and known carcinogens. And pesticides work because they disturb insects' reproductive success by disrupting the function of hormones and nerve cells. Further, new chemicals are so powerful, micro amounts are effective.

If we were truly interested in solutions, our Congress would lead us toward phasing out pesticides, and writing a farm bill that supports the small farm instead of already profitable agribusiness, and our silent partners in fruit, vegetable and nut production, the beekeepers.

But I'm sure the best idea is to study the problem for another 20-plus years, rather than try something as drastic as limiting the freedom of agribusiness corporations to protect us from terrible insects.

— Dan Seirawan, Seattle

Bad TV

It's how you look at it

The Fox network terrifying Seattle again? ["A Fox in the penthouse: Murdoch-style business news," guest commentary, Nov. 1.] I've watched with interest as Fox Business has appeared in HD on Direct TV. We've been stuck with CNBC for some time and its breathless, "sky is falling" mentality gets old.

One only wants to find out the latest news about business and markets. CNBC is old-line New York and gets a lot of info out but has made some questionable talent choices lately, especially Erin Burnett, Jim Cramer ["Mad Money"] and "The Brain" [David Faber]. CNBC has on a very talented woman, Becky Quick, but buried her at 4 a.m. our time.

Your reaction — or overreaction — to Fox as the bogey man seems to show you as hopeless, as usual. Fox has amassed a lot of talent, some from NBC.

Free speech is a good thing in market info. Don't bury your head in the sound!

— Andy Thompson, Spokane

Cruise control

Just so we don't go into a stall

So another "straight" Republican lawmaker has been caught in a public place having gay sex ["GOP lawmaker resigns amid sex scandal," Local News, Nov. 1].

After 9/11, I was a bit nervous about flying, but that soon passed. Now I find myself again uncomfortable with flying commercially. I now fear I may need to change planes at an airport in a red state and have to use the restroom.

— Mark Scott, Seattle

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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