Wind power cuts very little carbon
While invoking concerns about global warming to trump all arguments against constructing industrial wind energy plants in largely undeveloped areas, Mike Tidwell neglects to show that wind farms actually help fight climate change ("Need for wind farms in Maryland trumps aesthetics argument," Opinion
Commentary, Dec. 26).
Instead, he goes on to invoke logging and acid rain as other threats to the forest, as if those abuses justify the additional threat from large-scale wind energy development.
But nobody contests the idea that wind farms produce clean electricity. The problem is that they do so in a highly variable, intermittent manner.
Their average annual output is only 20 percent to 30 percent of their capacity, and they generate at or above that rate only one-third of the time.
For that reason, wind farms are unable to replace other sources of electricity, which are still needed to provide reliable energy on demand.
Wind power may occasionally displace hydropower and natural gas, which can switch off and on quickly enough. But coal consumption is not likely to be affected at all. And its effect on acid rain and carbon emissions is minimal.
The rest of the power grid inherits the extra burden of balancing the variable output from the wind turbines, which may cause more emissions and cancel much of the occasional benefit from wind power.
Global warming, acid rain, and energy security demand real solutions, not expensive, destructive distractions.
East Hardwick, Vt.
The writer is president of National Wind Watch, a nonprofit group critical of the impact of wind energy.
Turbines could ruin mountain forests
Mike Tidwell would have us all believe that the proposed site for 100 massive wind turbines in Garrett County would simply involve the removal of some scraggly old trees that would soon fall prey to the ax, polluted air and acid rain ("Need for wind farms in Maryland trumps aesthetics argument" Opinion
Commentary, Dec. 26).
But when I recently attended a state forestry board meeting that discussed the issue, I learned that each turbine would be 400 feet tall and would require four to 10 acres of forest to be clear-cut; that access roads would be 20- to 30-feet wide; and that, of course, the electric wires would have to go somewhere.
The turbines would be visible over 25 percent of Garrett County.
Maryland does not have to choose wind turbines to be on the cutting edge of alternative energy.
Some things do not make sense in our small state.
Let's protect our beautiful natural heritage.
Microwave ovens consume less energy
I enjoyed reading the column about "green" houses in Clipper Mill ("Going green, keeping the flush," Dec. 26).
As a principal at a local architecture firm, I know that our architects see great interest in sustainable building from consumers, governments and developers. So it is refreshing to see our local paper interested in the issue.
But I would like to comment on one point raised in the article - the idea that microwave ovens are energy hogs.
In fact, while microwaves use more energy in short bursts, they are much more efficient than electric or gas stoves because they are on for relatively short periods of time.
They use about two-thirds less energy than a conventional oven does to cook a meal.
Bhutto's murder spurs nuclear fears
While the death of Benazir Bhutto is a tragedy for the people of Pakistan, I am also worried about the inability of the country's military and police to prevent this senseless killing ("Grief and fury sweep Pakistan," Dec. 28).
Because Pakistan is a nuclear nation that was in the throes of upheaval even prior to this assassination, I can envisage the country now falling into chaos - which could provide an opportunity for terrorists to obtain nuclear weapons.
The results could not only be a tragedy for Pakistan but also present a worldwide threat.
I hope the murder of Ms. Bhutto will bring the people of Pakistan to their senses and that they will create a more representative government that is fully in control of its nuclear arsenal.
Add alcohol to list of state tax hikes
Learning that Maryland has one of the nation's lowest taxes on alcohol was very disconcerting ("Maryland drink stays cheap," Dec. 30). That's not something I want Maryland known for.
It is interesting that the alcoholic beverage industry lines the pockets of the lawmakers with large contributions and no increase on liquor taxes has been instituted since 1955.
The power of the money speaks very loudly.
Why shouldn't the alcoholic beverage industry receive the same treatment as other industries that will have to deal with Gov. Martin O'Malley's higher taxes?
Who knows, maybe alcohol use might decrease.
The article opened my eyes to the lack of resolve on the part of state legislators who failed to add alcohol to the list of tax increases.
I hope some brave lawmaker this session will fight this inequity and propose taxes on alcohol as well.
Geri J. Schlenoff
More on Christmas than trip to a deli
The Sun's article "Yule be served on Christmas" (Dec. 26) focused on how Jewish people spend Christmas and might have left some readers to conclude that we spend all day eating bagels and heading down to Lombard Street for a corned-beef sandwich.
However, the Baltimore community should know that many Jewish organizations arrange for members to volunteer their time on Christmas Day so that our Christian neighbors can take the day off and enjoy their holiday.
At my synagogue, families volunteer on Christmas morning to deliver food and gifts to AIDS and HIV patients through the Moveable Feast organization.
This Christmas, more than 85 people offered their time, and we made deliveries to more than 200 homes in Baltimore.
This is just one of the many activities that our synagogue participates in throughout the year that reflect our belief in the importance of giving back to the community at large through the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (or repairing the world).
The writer is assistant administrator for Beth El Congregation of Baltimore.
Teaching the value of true tolerance
My sincere thanks for publishing the marvelous message from the writer of the letter "Respect for rituals shows real tolerance" (Dec. 26).
It was a beautiful lesson in tolerance that the writer's Orthodox Jewish grandmother passed on to her grandson.
As an 84-year-old Roman Catholic grandfather, I hope my grandchildren will accept this same spirit of tolerance.