Letters To The Editor


December 09, 2007

Use clean energies to solve shortfall

The Sun's editorial "Re- regulating power" (Dec. 3) rightly pointed to the shortfall in electricity supplies we could face if we don't take action now.

But it will be a disappointment if decision-makers respond in the same way they often have to such a shortage - by building major transmission lines to faraway power plants.

Thankfully, there is a better way to get energy, through conservation, renewable energy and small, local power plants.

The potential shortfall of 1,500 megawatts of power can be met with clean energy.

The University of Maryland estimates that the state can get up to 2,400 megawatts of power from small, on-site generation facilities that can heat and cool our buildings as they provide electricity.

Another group has estimated the state can generate 16 megawatts from solar energy.

One offshore wind farm like the one likely to be built off Delaware could provide 450 megawatts.

And Gov. Martin O'Malley's energy conservation initiative could save 540 megawatts.

Clean energy can and should be the answer.

The era of relying almost exclusively on centralized power plants should be over.

It's time to build a modern electricity system with more reliability and less impact on the environment.

Brad Heavner


The writer is state director of Environment Maryland.

Skeptical on impact of cutting carbon

I hope Gov. Martin O'Malley will look more circumspectly at climate change policy proposals than his California counterpart, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has done. But apparently the environmental alarmists are in national competition to outdo the draconian California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 ("Drastic action on warming," Dec. 5).

Maryland officials should demand answers to a few simple questions before trying to alter Earth's climate.

For instance, what effect on global temperature will such policies have, even if adopted by the entire United States?

Remember that even the much-vaunted Kyoto Protocols - which are impossible to implement with existing technology - would, if fully implemented, lower global CO2 levels in the atmosphere by only 40 parts per million, which, according to a variety of published studies, might lower global average temperatures by about 0.15 degrees Centigrade.

Officials should also be somewhat skeptical of climate modeling that claims to predict conditions 100 years from now when the operational models that we meteorologists use daily still have trouble getting the weather right a few days ahead.

Instead of the politicization of science, what is needed is a little intellectual humility.

Charles Clough

Bel Air

The writer is a former chief of the Atmospheric Effects Team at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

Smart ways to cut emissions, clean bay

For once, an article on the front page worth cheering about: "Drastic action on warming" (Dec. 5) was welcome news indeed.

The words of the governor's climate change panel set out the goal of a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from Maryland by 2050, which could make the state a leader in the nation and the world on this urgent issue.

The panel is taking the matter seriously. But we need action, not just words.

And we cannot achieve the goals of either reducing greenhouse gas emissions or cleaning the bay until we devote the major portion of our transportation dollars to building and maintaining 21st-century, state-of-the-art mass transit systems.

Bigger and more congested highways will defeat our efforts to achieve both goals.

New housing developments must not be allowed to pave over more forests or farmland in Maryland, in places where infrastructure is lacking.

We must finally channel our development into truly Smart Growth.

With concentrated housing (much of it perhaps in Baltimore) and effective mass transit, the state can provide greater opportunities for all citizens to partake in the base realignment and closure process-related job growth without further endangering our environment or our health.

Sylvia J. Eastman


Getting a glimpse at galactic secrets

Thank you for Dennis O'Brien's article about plans for a dark energy space telescope ("Dark Energy," Dec. 2).

The article correctly notes that "central mysteries of the universe remain unsolved."

But to appreciate the value of the proposed dark energy space telescope, it is worth reflecting on how much progress we have made in understanding our universe in just the past 10 years.

For example, consider black holes. These gravitational giants were long thought to be mere cosmic curiosities.

But studies during the past decade have shown that not only are super-massive black holes found at the centers of all galaxies with stellar bulges, including our own Milky Way, but that there is a direct correlation between the mass of the super-massive black hole and the velocity of the stars in the galaxy's central bulge.

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