Trading treasures for oil would bring country no bargain...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 23, 2001

Trading treasures for oil would bring country no bargain

Kudos to The Sun for sending a reporter to Alaska and making enough space available to tell readers what she learned. Unfortunately, the series title, "Wilds vs. Wealth" (May 6-9), creates a false impression. Protecting wilderness does not mean financial sacrifice. Natural areas are vital to a healthy fishing industry, tourism and other sectors.

In fact, as The Sun pointed out, logging the centuries-old trees in the Tongass National Forest has eaten up hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies.

The $7.2 million we spent to buy Alaska was one of the best investments we ever made. The state features 238 million acres of national parks, forests, refuges and other lands belonging to all Americans.

But we would be just as short-sighted as the Russians were if we turned the best of these natural treasures into sprawling oil fields and tree farms.

William H. Meadows, Washington

The writer is president of the Wilderness Society.

Conservation is better way to expand our resources

Thanks to The Sun for its "Wilds vs. Wealth" series, which outlined a balanced view of drilling for oil in Alaska.

The perspective we hear from the Bush administration, however, is one-sided: Help the "haves" have more, bow to wasteful consumption and blow off any thoughts of conservation.

I guess this was to be expected. Men who have made millions in oil can only see things through oil-tinted glasses.

But what our leaders should be saying is: "Let's work together to make a difference, and one way to do that is to consume less."

The U.S. lifestyle is wasteful and without regard for future generations. We can lead the leaders by showing opposition to the destruction of a pristine ecosystem and speaking out about the need to conserve our natural resources.

Jeanne M. Ruddock, Baldwin

The notion of drilling for natural gas within or near two of our most revered national parks is very disheartening.

Wild is wild -- period. No amount of human intervention can be tolerated or it is simply not a wild place anymore -- and there are not many such places left.

Soon, we will have so transformed nature as to be unable to study it in the field, but only in virtual form in the lab. We will never know what we have lost.

We better get a handle on what our really valuable assets are and not fall for fool's gold. If gas reaches $3 a gallon, we might start rearranging our priorities and conserve to preserve what is precious.

Russell Tyldesley, Catonsville

Where are the voices of `passionate liberalism'?

It is time to act against "compassionate conservatism" with "passionate liberalism." Where are these voices when we need them?

Bob Greene, Bel Air

A lifetime alone is a fate that's worse than death

A suggestion to proponents and opponents of the death penalty: Put criminals such as Timothy McVeigh in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives, with no opportunity for parole.

This would no doubt be a fate worse than death and should satisfy all.

Florence Smelkinson, Baltimore

Fair treatment of McVeigh means he'll be no martyr

It's ironic that someone who meted out his idea of justice, by being judge, jury and executioner of innocent people, now benefits from a system he opposes.

The fear that Timothy McVeigh will become a martyr seems rather remote because of the fairness of our system in dealing with a person so reviled.

Stanley Oring, Pikesville

Medical use would cut the cachet of cannabis

In The Sun's article "U.S. resists marijuana for the sick" (May 6) opponents of medical cannabis say that its benefits are outweighed by other considerations. Their largest fear is that medical use would increase general drug use, as children seeing adults smoke cannabis for illnesses might be encouraged to use it.

Unlike most medicines, cannabis has no known lethal dose. Nevertheless, side effects may occur with large doses.

These may be largely avoided by controlling the dose, which can be easily accomplished by smoking. Large doses are unnecessary to relieve debilitating symptoms. Small doses minimize the possibility of respiratory problems.

And, rather than encouraging children to use cannabis, the sight of very sick older people medicating with cannabis should deglamorize its use.

Kevin Fansler, Havre de Grace

Construction is under way at new Reisterstown park

The Sun's May 9 news brief "County officials break ground for regional park" incorrectly stated that construction will begin next spring at Reisterstown Regional Park. In fact, construction is already underway at this site, the first of four large regional parks designed to alleviate a recognized shortage of sports fields in Baltimore County while preserving open space.

By next spring, we expect that a full range of youth and adult sports leagues from all over northern Baltimore County will be playing on four lighted baseball/softball diamonds and three lighted athletic fields at this new park.

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