Energy and the Environment
The energy plan you lay out in your editor’s letter introducing the July/August 2006 issue’s special report (“It’s Not Too Late”) simply considers how to meet the projected increasing energy demand of an insanely materialistic society with a huge environmental footprint; it never considers the consequences. Any reduction of energy-related greenhouse gases achieved through your plan would be more than offset by other increases in greenhouse gases and other environmental impacts caused by the expanding economic activity your plan seeks to protect. You are promoting business as usual, except that carbon dioxide from energy production is to be reduced. This plan won’t get us where we want to be. We need basic structural changes in the American lifestyle and economy.
You err as well, and most dangerously, in your assumptions that the heavily materialistic and unhealthy American lifestyle is nonnegotiable and that the poor of the world just can’t wait to get their hands on McMansions, SUVs, and plasma televisions. Polls, in fact, show Americans to be willing to pay more in taxes, and more for products and services, if it will protect the environment. And the rest of the world is getting increasingly impatient and angry waiting for the people of the “rich world,” the United States in particular, to start living in a responsible and sustainable manner. Read the newspapers, especially the foreign press, for gosh sakes. Or get out of Cambridge and do some traveling.
Correction: Our story on Roger Dingledine’s Tor Project (“TR35: Young Innovators with This Year’s Best Ideas,” September/October 2006) indicated that people can use Tor to send e-mail anonymously. Tor is designed to create a nontraceable, two-way circuit for applications such as Web browsing, instant messaging, and uploading content to a blog or other website. Tor will mask the origin of e-mail sent through Web-based services, such as Gmail, but to avoid facilitating spammers, it is not set up to act as a relay for anonymous e-mail. Technology Review regrets any confusion.