April 20, 2009

Native oysters still better for the bay

The Nature Conservancy of Maryland/D.C. applauds the recent decision by Maryland, Virginia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to focus exclusively on native oysters in Chesapeake Bay restoration and aquaculture efforts ("Native oysters prevail," April 7).

We understand this was a complex and difficult decision, with people on both sides of the issue passionate about their positions. We are confident, though, that the best available science has led us to stay true to our native Chesapeake oyster, and not to introduce a foreign oyster.

We are very thankful for Gov. Martin O'Malley's strong leadership among the respective state and federal decision-makers on this issue.

His commitment to a decision based on sound science was significant in avoiding the introduction of a nonnative species that would have increased risks to human health and to our native oyster.

Nat Williams, Bethesda

The writer is the Maryland/D.C. director for the Nature Conservancy.

Act locally to curb global warming

The writer of the letter "State can't stop global warming" (April 12) would have us believe that there is no point in the good citizens of Maryland seeking to limit their emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

The letter writer says Marylanders will take all the pain for no gain. But that simply isn't true. Global warming is indeed a global issue, but it's one we all cause collectively. The only way to slow it down is for all of us to act together.

The letter writer has done his homework, and tells us China has increased its emissions by 98 percent while the U.S. increased it emissions by 3 percent between 2000 and 2007.

China has been industrializing to move from being a developing to a developed country, so one would expect its emissions to be increasing. We are fortunately not in their poor starting position.

What the letter writer does not tell readers is that the United States, with a population of 300 million, produces 21 percent of all global greenhouse gases, while China, with a population of 1.3 billion, produces a mere 15 percent. And in 2002, the per capita production of carbon dioxide was 20 tons in the United States and 5 tons for China. That's because Americans eat vast amounts of meat and drive large cars with high gas consumption, and the Chinese don't.

There is no way that the planet can support everyone having the lifestyle of an average American. We must set an example by becoming more efficient in the way we use oil and gas.

This does not mean hardship; it means applying our brains.

Japanese automakers have been moving in this direction for decades. If they can do it, so can we.

Saving energy is good for the people of Maryland and good for the planet.

Let's do it.

Colin Summerhayes, Cambridge, England

The writer is executive director of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research of the International Council for Science.

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