Final Word

The human factor“How big is your carbon footprint?” was a very good article, and the www.BP.com site had good hands-on configuration tools.But the 800-pound gorilla in the article you did not address is the propagation of the carbon-life-forms we call human beings.Uninhibited organic specimens grow at an exponential rate, like bacteria in a petri dish. Some have estimated the world’s current doubling rate of human beings at 40 years, although last century it was closer to a 50-year doubling rate. So to maintain today’s consumption rate, the “carbon footprint” for each person will have to be half of what it is today in about 50 years and one-fourth of what it is today by the end of this century.Using the www.BP.com configuration tools, see whether you can halve your carbon footprint of today to be living in 2050. The lame phrase, “Technology will save us,” was used 40 years ago; what is the phrase of today?

FYI — the size of human population from the Population Reference Bureau at www.prb.org:

1 A.D. 300 million

1200 † 450 million

1650†† 500 million

1750† † 795 million

1850 1.27 billion

1900 1.66 billion

1950 2.52 billion

1995 5.76 billion

2002 6.22 billion

2006 6,525,912,054

U.S. 299,039,485

James DemingRaleigh

Hang clothes to dryThanks for the interesting feature on measuring our carbon footprint and also for the suggestions for reducing energy use. One energy-saving strategy that I seldom see proposed is using an outdoor washing line to dry clothes. It seems to me that our North Carolina weather is ideal for this. Our household, on average, dries two out of five loads of washing on an outdoor clothesline. I would be interested to see an estimate of how much energy this could save.Karen ChiswellOxford

Connecting the dotsRegarding the last two weeks’ Q topics (political labels and fossil fuel usage): Is it true that those who seek to conserve are usually liberal and those who use fossil fuels liberally are conservative? Go figure.Greg AllenRaleigh

A very narrow sampleIt seems a shame that you could not find in the whole of this area anyone with a carbon footprint that is average for U.S. households, 20.4 tons a year, or less. Surely there are people from whom we could learn something rather than these three examples that you have given that don’t seem to be very well chosen, quite frankly.Janice SwabRaleigh

Universal responsibilityAlthough your article on the environment is most appreciated, your comment that “most of us would like to be better stewards of the Earth” is dead wrong. The clear majority of people in this country are not concerned about the environment. National polls have shown that maybe 11 percent or 12 percent of the people have a concern about the environment.

Every individual in this country needs to be responsible for taking care of the environment.†Global warming is not a theory any more.†It is a fact supported by 85 percent of the scientists in the world.†For the sake of our children and grandchildren, it is time to do something.Many excellent ideas to help our environment were mentioned in your article, and here are two more:

1. Become informed and learn more about global warming.†The Web site at www.stopglobalwarming.org is filled with excellent ideas.†Also at this site are comments from many well-known Americans who are concerned about this problem.

2. Contact your government representatives and ask them to support legislation that will slow global warming.The time is now to take action on global warming.†If we wait much longer then we will not be able to reverse much of the damage that is done in the interim.Marvin WollRaleigh

Bush clearly liberal

Our historic problem in this country (which we have recently been exporting more than ever to other nations) is this incessant need to label other people (most times negatively). Since huge, largely conservative media companies generate much of what we now perceive as “fact,” it is no surprise that this connotation of “bad” has been associated with liberalism. One can hearken to the days of Ronald Reagan when we labeled the Soviets as the “evil empire.” Our current trend dictates we be watchful of the “axis of evil.” The truth is that our political spectrums in this country have reversed, and no one has thought to tell the American people.

Based upon historic context, concepts of conservatism included “keep government off our backs,” “small government” spending and “preserving what is.” Liberalism, on the other hand, has been described exactly the opposite, a more populist approach, if you will.

If we use those old definitions, then George W. Bush has to be the most “liberal” president in our nation’s history. He has clearly expanded government intervention, enlarged government and changed the status quo more radically than any president since Franklin Roosevelt. The current Democratic Party has adopted, sadly, a more conservative approach resigned to a mostly status quo approach and a “go with the flow” attitude. Labeling others is always a double-edged sword. It swings both ways and cuts.

If governmental actions comprise ideology, then the conservative agenda in this country is clearly bad. Beware of the sword.Thomas E. DonohueRaleigh

Saints and sinnersIn the 1960s, Barry Goldwater and William Buckley started the conservative movement, which was very unpopular at the time. In fact, being liberal was more prevalent in our society than being conservative. Rush Limbaugh is responsible for making the term “liberal” a dirty word. Of course, he has no college degree and makes $30 million per year spreading the failed politics of conservatism. Let’s see, the Iraq war is a quagmire with no end in sight, our nation’s public debt is $8 trillion, jobs are being outsourced while CEOs make hundreds of millions per year, we have scandals from Tom DeLay, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff. Oh my! These are all conservatives I just mentioned. The party of the Moral Majority and Christian right? Which means Jesus might just have been a liberal since he surely preached against such dishonesty and was for helping the poor.

I am an independent and look at the issues rather than saying I am liberal or conservative. But lately the liberals look more saintly and honest than do the conservatives. The conservative movement has ruined this country and Iraq for good.Ron CarlsonCary

Conserving what?I agree that the labels “liberal” and “conservative” have become outmoded. Conservatives can keep their heads firmly in the sand if they think their job is to go on cussing out liberals. After all, they who are in power now call themselves conservatives. So let’s look at how conservatively the executive and congressional branches have been working together.

Most glaringly, the White House is against conserving. If it’s about the nature we live and breathe in, they are consumptives.Are they fiscal conservatives? Does the White House preserve the Bill of Rights? No, national security concerns must override it. Was it responsible, therefore, to make a [mess] in Iraq? But that’s a most controversial question. In the American way, however, there’s nothing like the chief advocates for torture being the attorney general and the vice president. Shall I make a conservative estimate of the mendacity, greed, destruction of our values let loose only in the last almost five and a half years?

Just what is the Bush administration most passionately and successfully interested in conserving? Here the answer is easy, albeit singular: corporate profits. Decent, true conservatives must exist. I don’t see how they could not but be embarrassed.Sarah FreedmanDurham

Liberal head held highWho says “liberal” is a bad word? Not me.Liberals brought you the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and public schools. Each one of these institutions has been under constant assault from the right since it was established. Liberals believe people should come first, not corporate profits.

The real dirty word is “conservative.” Today, those adherents seem to go out of their way to support fear, hatred, intolerance, ignorance, poverty, violence, corruption, war profiteering, out-of-control pseudoreligions and the rights of corporate personhood above all else. For generations these people have done everything they can to dismantle the Constitution, our legal system and our free and open society to further their own misbegotten personal causes. Who will be stuck with cleaning up the huge mess they have created? Liberals, of course, just as we have been doing for millenia.Paint me “liberal” any day. At least I can look people in the eye. Can a conservative?William HarrisGarner

Enemies definedA liberal is pretty much someone who believes that the 50 percent socialist this country has become is not nearly enough but that we ought to be allowed to smoke pot, too.

A conservative is someone who believes the 50 percent socialist this country has become is a runaway train, which, if not reversed, will lead to disaster. He makes an exception for centralized government spending to catch and imprison pot smokers — a socialist program worth doing, in his mind. Nevertheless, he is fiscally anti-collectivism, while today’s liberal is, for the most part, either an ideological leftist or simply undereducated and unaware of the economic consequences of his positions.

Do the words have meaning today? Of course they do, insofar as they name two enemy camps, both of which talk a lot about “freedom.” But I have a question: Where on that diamond is the pinnacle of liberty?Agatha ShillingApex