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Rooftops to the Rescue
"A Matter of Survival" (November/December) reflected an unfortunate prejudice from which the Sierra Club needs to divest itself. When most people think of "rooftop solar," they think of their own rooftop or their neighbors', and of the incentives that may or may not compel them to install solar panels. Hence the oft-repeated sentiment, as expressed in the article, that "small-scale projects (known as 'distributed generation') can't be developed fast enough" to cover our energy needs.
But commercial distributed solar projects are not about putting panels on homes. Southern California Edison, for instance, has installed more than 382 megawatts of distributed solar energy in its service area, primarily on warehouses. Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric have committed to 500 and 100 megawatts, respectively. Combined, the three utilities will generate more than 1 gigawatt of distributed solar power by 2015. Such distributed generation is far from "small-scale."
Director, Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter
San Luis Obispo, California
Please let it be known that not everyone who claims to be Christian has a homocentric view of creation ("Thou Shalt Not Smite Thy Manatee," November/December). The view that we are above (and not within) creation comes from a narrow, self-serving, and conservative reading of Scripture.
Let us see even the humble manatee as an example of living in harmony with nature, which the rest of creation is happy to do--until humans choose to be gods.
Reverend Joy Gonnerman
HYDRO GOT HERE FIRST
To say that renewable energy production in the United States recently surpassed nuclear energy production "for the first time" is patently false ("Up to Speed," November/December). We had lots of operating hydropower plants long before Fermi achieved the first nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago stadium in 1942.
STOP THE MERCURY MADNESS
Thanks so much for the great article on mercury emissions and fish and mentioning the GotMercury.org calculator ("This Much Mercury . . . ," November/December). Hopefully Rich Gelfond's new research center will force the FDA to take this problem seriously. We recently filed a legal petition asking the FDA to revise and strengthen 30-year-old mercury-in-fish standards. The Sierra Club's focus on the problem really helps.
Turtle Island Restoration Network
In the November/December issue, "A Matter of Survival" incorrectly stated that the wind industry employs more people than the coal industry in the United States. More people work in the wind industry than in coal mining, but fewer than in the coal industry as a whole, which includes coal-transportation and power plant jobs. Also, the "Explore" caption named Death Valley as having the lowest elevation in the western hemisphere, a distinction held by Laguna del Carbon, Argentina.