February 20, 2008
Thanks to Jon Margolis for giving us an outline of carbon trading [“Carbon Copy?” January 30] . It’s necessary to say more. Polluting industries are being allowed to continue polluting (while brokers make money from it) with this strange marketing ploy called “carbon trading.” Even worse, other polluting industries are created in third-world countries and given the name of an “offset” as part of the trading process. An “offset,” an industry or practice supposedly good for the environment, offers credits for polluting industries to buy so that they can rev up their own pollution.
An example: sponge iron plants in India, which destroy the local habitat and bring illnesses to the population. If these plants then also develop a “waste heat recovery” project, they are given carbon credits to be sold to other industries. Another example of an “offset” is a project for reforestation. That sounds good, right? But what if it is to happen in a poor country by destroying indigenous villages and entire habitats? The resulting tree plantation is then eventually cut down and sold as timber.
The net result of carbon trading is that pollution and global warming are not halted, but wealth is created for already-rich industries and traders. Hopefully Governor Douglas does not imagine Vermonters reveling in immoral businesses. As last month’s [Vermont 3.0] Creative Technology Career Jam showed, we have many more promising alternatives for employment in our state.
Has Ms. Levine considered what role voting fraud may have had in the election of some of the politicians she has named [“Man Enough,” January 30] ? Perhaps lunch-pal charisma played less of a role than good old-fashioned corruption. She may want to watch a DVD like Hacking Democracy or Stealing America: Vote by Vote before she buys into and promotes the media’s script about who is electable and why.
KNOW YOUR FOOD
You profiled healthy food markets near Burlington, leaving out stores like Costco, so by omission, those places must be unhealthy [“Attention, Shoppers,” January 30] . Yet when I toured Williston’s Costco, I found aisles bountiful with organic cereals, fruits, and vegetables for rock bottom prices.
I tend to freak out in February. There’s plenty stored in jars and freezers but little left in the earth cellar. I start dreaming up ideas of moving to the Caribbean, just so I can unselfconsciously eat a mouthful of greens. I know I should just get over it and buy a tomato if I want it. Which one should I buy?
Why is Wild Caught Canadian flounder ($7.99/lb) at Costco less healthy than Malaysian Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna ($17.99/lb) at Healthy Living? Misty Knoll chicken is available at Healthy Living, but do people realize that conventional meat chickens in the U.S. are all raised out of cages, and free-roaming doesn’t necessarily mean pasture raised or organic?
In Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, we are reminded that “eaters must understand how we eat determines how the world is used.” I’m pretty sure that means we should actually think when we purchase food rather than just jump on the healthy, carbon-light fad.
Bottom line: Know your food, know your farmer. There’s plenty of us out there, willing to provide you with local, healthy food. And the next time I find myself thumbing my nose at the Costco shoppers, maybe I’ll cut them some slack. Maybe they can’t afford to be so healthy.
Fat Rooster Farm
BEWARE SAILING CYCLISTS
So, how can I contact the coalition advocating bicyclists conduct themselves safely and with common sense and courtesy? Where do I get that frickin’ bubpersticker? [“Bike Advocates Ask for Room on the Road,” January 30] 
Don’t get me wrong — I am 100 percent pro-cycling, walking and jogging. My father was a cyclist and jogger, so my childhood was filled with horror stories of how rude or inattentive Vermont drivers almost killed my beloved dad on numerous occasions. I also worked for Fletcher Allen’s inpatient rehabilitation unit (for traumatic head and spinal cord injuries) for over seven years where I saw first hand the horrible, life-altering consequences of car vs. cyclist accidents. I’m highly aware of my responsibilities and am more than happy to do everything I can to generously “Share the Road.”
However, I’m also pretty bloody sick of cyclists sailing through stop signs and red lights; riding two abreast so they can have a nice chat while holding up 1/4 mile of traffic; darting illegally in and out of traffic; failing to signal their intention to turn; pulling suddenly into traffic without looking; whizzing by pedestrians; failing to wear lights and/or reflective clothing at night; zigzagging ascents, etc.
The Share the Road campaign always tacks on some language about cyclists’ responsibilities as an afterthought — as if everyone knows and agrees that it’s exclusively the evil car bullies who are causing all the accidents. Well, it’s not. It seems like bike advocates have become so preoccupied with driver vilification that they have forgotten about biker education.
OFF TRACK ON OFFSET
Although last Saturday’s events were ostensibly the context for your story on carbon trading, I can find no evidence in the article that the writer actually attended the panel discussion [“Carbon Copy?” January 30] . (You did include a photo of Anne Petermann from the Global Justice Ecology Project, who hosted the event. But you did not even get the name right.) Had the writer listened to the discussion, he might have learned something about the subject of carbon trading.
Margolis states, absurdly, that the debate on carbon trading — as a strategy to address climate change — is over, when it has scarcely even begun. If we are going to adopt this as a strategy, we better study it thoroughly, and it better work, because we cannot afford to make mistakes. There is no time for that.
Margolis failed to note that the European carbon market has collapsed. Or that almost none of the signatory countries of the Kyoto agreement are on track to meet their quotas for emission reductions. In fact, emissions are on the rise. Why? Because carbon trading — the strategy that was adopted at Kyoto — doesn’t work.
THE GOOD OLD DAYS
My thanks to Peter Freyne for his take on our current health care system [“Inside Track,” February 6].
He spelled it out so clearly what a disaster it really is. Except for Medicare for old folks like me. We should all have a Medicare-like system. I’m only sorry that the pending bill in our Legislature only covers hospital care. I think the insurance companies have done us wrong for so long — I can remember when they were out of the picture and you paid your doctor or hospital yourself and even on a fairly low income it was manageable. I lived during those times as a family of three on my husband’s salary of $350 a month and called on doctors for our baby and three short hospitalizations for me 1950s. When the insurance coverage started it all went up and hasn’t stopped. H 304 is a start, but we must not stop with that.
I read Sarah Tuff’s interview with Sound Therapist Eileen McKusick [“Good Vibrations,” February 6]  with interest but was surprised and disappointed that the journalist failed to ask two obvious questions: (1) Why do chakras happen to resonate with the arbitrary frequencies of a major scale from the Western European culture; (2) What is the experimental, statistically sound evidence supporting claims of the therapeutic effectiveness of this treatment for specific ailments?
When Seven Days journalists take a passive, unskeptical attitude towards any subjects of interviews, they are making the same mistake that mainstream media hacks do when they accept and retransmit government propaganda without challenging its veracity.
M.E. Kabay, PhD, CISSP-ISSMP
Kabay is program director and Master of Science in Information AssuranceSchool of Graduate Studies,Norwich University.
POT AND PENALTIES
I need to clarify a few points in Peter Freyne’s column regarding the issue of marijuana decriminalization [Inside Track,” January 30] .
The council voted against putting an advisory question on the ballot because it asked the legislature to “explore an alternative to the criminal “system for dealing with small quantities of marijuana.” It was very clear that the legislature already is exploring the issue in a very significant way that it has not done in recent times. Now, Councilor Adrian is afraid that legislators in Montpelier will ultimately not vote to decriminalize. I’m sorry, but that is democracy, if that is indeed what happens. It does not change the fact that what Councilor Adrian wanted voters to weigh in on is already happening.
As to creating a separate law here in Burlington, the majority of the council became convinced that you cannot have a hodge podge of laws dealing with issues like this from one community to another. It just doesn’t work. The second resolution that did pass the council was amended and it was made clear that the City Council Public Safety Committee can explore “another option” being added as an additional tool for our police, but that decriminalization of marijuana is not on the table in Burlington.
Wright is president of the Burlington City Council.
How sad to see your usually fine publication devote an entire page to the latest quack nonsense: Sound Therapy [“Good Vibrations,” February 6] . Come on people, we’re in the 21st century of the Common Era. Humans have sent people to the moon, transplanted organs, cracked our genetic code, and used real (as opposed to bogus) quantum mechanics to further solid state electronics. Sorry, but everything is NOT vibration and frequency (ask a physicist). Crystals and tuning forks? What next, blood letting, reading signs in entrails, and casting out of demons?
If Ms.McKusick really thinks she’s on to something-as opposed to just lightening peoples’ wallets- then let her take the James Randi one million dollar Paranormal Challenge (www.randi.org ). If what she does works under controlled conditions, she (or her favorite charity) would be a million dollars richer....and she’d be on the fast track for a Nobel Prize. But here’s my own psychic prediction: I’m betting a thousand dollars of my own money that Ms. McKusick will refuse to take the Randi challenge. (With any one of dozens of excuses these New Age “therapists” offer up...”I don’t need the money”, “It’s not a fair test”, “The money is ‘tainted’ “.) If my prediction is right does this mean that I’m the one with psychic powers?
GREEN ALL OVER
Your “Green Miles” article by Mike Ives makes some good points, but it also contains important factual errors [“Green Miles,” January 30] .
First, the organization I direct, Vermont Environmental Consortium, is an independent nonprofit, not “government-affiliated.” We engage in project partnerships with innumerable organizations, including, sometimes, state agencies. But VEC takes direction from its 75 member businesses, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions—not from any government or official.
Second, the term “Green Valley” was coined in 2001 by VEC’s president, Peter Murray, to describe not just the “green triangle” but rather the potentials of the whole state to become a place that nurtured green enterprises. Ives misrepresented these facts despite my repeated clarification.
Third, Ives makes VEC sound skeptical about renewable energy. Fact: VEC resoundingly supports renewable energy technology development and deployment in Vermont. We’re pleased to say—we don’t “concede”—that renewable energy and efficiency are the rock stars of the sector.
It’s just that traditional categorical borders between disciplines are rapidly becoming obsolete.
Example: A farmer grows soybeans for biodiesel production—is she in the “agriculture” or “energy” business? How about using building designs and technologies that don’t leak heat energy or kill carbon-sequestering trees? Clearly, we need to quit using goods in ways that waste resources and squander the energy invested in extracting, transporting, manufacturing, etc.; we have to stop dumping our discards into landfills where they’ll release greenhouse gases for decades. So is “solid waste management” about energy, natural resource conservation, or global warming?
So VEC works with all the “green” industries to create innovative solutions. We need to think systemically to deal with the twin monsters of fossil energy depletion and global warming. We also need accurate reporting and a spirit of cooperation, not misrepresentation and the sowing of discord where there hasn’t been any.
Hecht is executive director of the VEC.