Too much energy extraction and not enough conservation
In response to the Feb. 16 op-ed column “Time to Build,” about the the Keystone pipeline, I strongly disagree with authors Jack Gerard and Gen. Jim Jones.
The column stated that the pipeline is a choice about keeping America strong, secure and maintaining its place as a world leader. What does keeping America strong mean? If strong means contributing to a world where 95 percent of the people live in abject poverty while 5 percent live in extreme opulence, then, yes, the Keystone pipeline makes sense.
Regarding security, it seems to me if we want to avoid oil wars, terrorism and economic collapse, we cannot continue increasing rates of energy extraction. We need instead to conserve these resources by deliberately reducing these rates now! If we did this in a coordinated way, we could keep resources from fluctuating destructively, reduce the incentives for nations to compete for dwindling supplies, and help jump-start the transition to renewable alternatives.
Security will result from participating in a global community where we all rise on the same tide together, conserving the use of the planet’s natural resources by using wind, water and solar as soon as possible.
According to a study completed by Mark Jacobson of Stanford College and colleagues at UC Davis and Cornell, New York state could be fully converted to renewable energy by 2030. The plan would create 4.5 million construction jobs and 58,000 permanent jobs in New York state alone.
As a world leader, the U.S. needs to accept responsibility for the mistakes of the past, not continue to exploit the world’s resources and continue to contribute to climate change by consuming 25 percent of the world’s energy with 3 percent of its population.
Now is the time for leading the world by embracing sustainable technology that could save our planet rather than exploiting it.
Gary J. Lessard
The writer is a professional engineer.
Union frosh confronts fears about Sch’dy
Being a freshman at Union College, I was skeptical about leaving the main campus when I arrived. I was told Schenectady was a rough city and that I should only leave campus by car.
During the fall term, there were some bad situations that involved robbery happening a block behind my dorm. This did not help my fears at all.
However, one day my friend asked me to walk downtown with him because he needed to take pictures of people for his photography class. I thought why not face my fears, and if anything were to happen, at least I would be with someone else. The rumors I was told were proven wrong almost immediately by the kindness and humor the people of Schenectady shared.
My friend asked several people to take their picture and was mostly given a “yes” with a smile. There was even a group of people on their lunch break who stopped us and asked to model. There was a warmth that my friend and I received from the people we met on State Street that cold winter day.
I am happy that I faced my fears or else I may have never discovered such a great area only a few blocks away.
Overall, roundabouts more good than bad
When I teach defensive driving classes, the subject of roundabouts often comes up, with most people expressing frustration with them. Part of the problem is that few people have received much information other than being told they are safer. Indeed they are, even though they sometimes see an increase of fender bender-type crashes.
The second-most dangerous crash a driver can incur is the T-bone, since there is less protection on the side, and it is hard to see it coming. These crashes occur mostly at intersections. The roundabout helps because it prohibits left turns (they are risky and tie up traffic) and red-light running, keeps the drivers’ eyes at street level rather than upward, and reduces speed due to the tight radius.
Corner convenience stores, another source of crashes, are also pretty much moved out.
Roundabouts do have downsides: drivers unfamiliar with them, and elderly drivers, tend to stop and wait for a large gap before entering, and crosswalks complicate the process of scanning the traffic for gaps. They also anger aggressive drivers, who can’t jump lights and want to run speeds well above the 20 mph to 30 mph most roundabouts have as posted speed limits. Multiple lanes also can be confusing.
On balance, roundabouts do meet the goals of reducing death and injury and keeping traffic moving. Professional traffic engineers are doing all they can to add safety to our travels.
Crimea a flashpoint, just like in 1854
History really does repeat itself. The current crisis in the news revolves around Crimea. Once again Russia and the West are at the point of war, exactly as they were in 1854, when France and Britain declared war on Russia to defend their ally, the Ottoman Empire. That dispute, as this one, involved religion, territory and oppression of a people.
The antagonists then included Queen Victoria of Britain, Czar Nicholas I of Russia, Napolean III of France, and Omar Pasha, field marshal of the Ottoman Empire. The war raged on for two years, 600,000 people died. It gave rise to the efforts of Florence Nightingale to save the wounded, and to poet Alfred Lord Tennyson to immortalize the “Charge of the Light Brigade” at the Battle of Balaclava.
In the end a treaty was signed, Russia kept Crimea, the Western powers withdrew, and the son of Nicholas I sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million to pay for the debt of the war. Crimea is only slightly larger than Vermont; its total population is less then Chicago.
Today we can change the names of the antagonists, the underlying cause of the dispute, but we cannot change history, and in this age of modern weapons we can only increase the number of dead.
Get the corporate money out of politics
Let’s follow the money.
1) Governor and Legislature take millions in corporate bribes (campaign money).
2) Governor recommends cutting millionaire inheritance tax and doing away with Wall Street financial transaction tax.
3) Governor cuts library funds and underfunds court-mandated school aid to districts like Schenectady.
Until we have Clean Money, Clean Elections like Maine does, I will boycott corporate-owned politicians like Cuomo and support non-corporate candidates like Green Party member Howie Hawkins for governor.
I invite all my fellow citizens to engage in democracy, not corporatocracy.
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