Science in Society Archive

Science in Society #45 - Letters to the Editor

Science in Society 45

Green Power

Green Energies - 100% Renewable by 2050 (ISIS publication) is an excellent report! But, sadly, even Britain's Green Party has dropped the baton placed in its hand by Fritz Schumacher's Small Is Beautiful. There is a widespread failure by such institutions to promote the vital decentralised 'people owned' mostly small scale solutions that produce the socio-cultural revolution that matches the renewable energy equation. Instead we hear about 'massive investment' being needed to promote 'a new industrial revolution' that will 'stimulate jobs and the national economy' etc. If we can get beyond such histrionics and see localised, human scale, independent renewable energy schemes, freed from corporate ownership and the big profit motive - as the road to the future, then we will have a veritable renaissance on our hands. Let’s try to get this message widely disseminated at this crucial time.
Julian Rose, Hardwick nr Reading, UK

At last someone has pulled together some positive information (see Faith Hope and Chaos, SiS 45). I want the UK/Scottish governments to emulate what's been happening on the Continent, especially in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden. Because I'd like this planet to be a livable place for my niece and nephews, and for their kids and then for a few generations more!
Margaret Powell-Joss, Oban, Argyll, Scotland

I suggested to the City of Saint-Hubert, Québec, to become member of Agenda 21 (see Cities and Climate, SiS 45) 10 years ago. It is not done yet! I am now in another city, not far, Boucherville. I suggested to the Mayor to become member of it. Will he?!! I am also involved in the transition-towns movement.
Claude Saint-Jarre, Boucherville, Quebec, Canada

I am delighted to see that Michael Meacher remains optimistic inspite of the UK's appalling renewables record (see The Politics of Green Energy, SiS 45). I would guess many countries are in the same boat however. My own country South Africa which could and should be a centre of solar energy continues to drag its feet and invest in new coal fired powered stations, and contemplates further nuclear stations as well, instead of putting its effort into renewables. Sometimes I feel as though I am living in a mad house because those who are making these crazy energy generation decisions seem quite unable to see that they are helping to destroy us all, them included.
Rory Short, Johanessburg, South Africa

God Save Us from the Mealy Bug!

I have been running an organic terrace farm in the city for nine years. However this year we lost so many of our plants - cherries, guava, 4-5 varieties of Hibuscus, pomegranate - to this mealy bug. it has never happened before. In fact earlier, just pruning away the affected part would enable the plant to survive. But this time, all new tender shoots have greater infestation. I have tried neem, tobacco, chilly-garlic extract but nothing has not helped so far. Reading your article  is giving me shivers..... What if the effects are migrating to urban areas too....This year we have been flooded with questions from home gardeners about the mealy bug infestation! Is there a connection? God save us!
Preeti Patil,, Mumbai, Maharastra, India

Truth about Bt Cotton Beacons of Hope for the Poor

Farmer Suicides and Bt Cotton Nightmare Unfolding in India is a very effective argument thrown against those who promote irresponsible and life threatening technologies in the name of science, taking advantage of the less of awareness of marginalized people, and indirectly exploiting third world countries in the name of ‘Advancement’. Institutions like ISIS are beacons of hope to the poor people
Premnath, post-graduate in Sustainable Development, Chennai, India

Vanishing Bees

"Nicotine Bees" is a newly released 45 minute documentary with a similar message. What Chuck Benbrook, PhD, has to say on the film is compelling. Dr Benbrook is an independent, unbiased scientist without any affiliation to an agbusiness-supported university. Visit: We believe "Nicotine Bees" is the new "Silent Spring." Here's our piece on this crucial issue:

Many thanks to Joe Cummins who provided essential research on this issue!
Laurel Hopwood, Chair, Sierra Club's Genetic Engineering Action Team, USA

Scientists Concerned for Academic Freedom

Any manipulation, restriction, deception, harassment-vilification of independent scientists, and/or unilateral control of research activities by the biotech and pharmaceutical industries (and/or any kind of polluter industries) must be put to an end (see Scientists Concerned For Academic Freedom, ISIS open letter to Premier of Western Australila.

The extensive use of the court system, through legal suits (demanding damages and compensation) must be utilized by socially conscious groups and communities organized optimally for high levels of efficacy (obtaining decisive results where it hurts them most, i.e., the pocketbook). Top-notch legal teams must be assembled at once. Let us appeal to the Law Schools throughout the finest Universities worldwide and the finest Law firms on planet earth, in order to form these surveillance-ready to act teams. They must operate on an ongoing basis. Let us appeal to the real altruists (including those who have great abundance of means) of this world. Where are they? This is the time to take decisive action. Let us build a new Humanity through the implementation of truly ecological communities in order to regenerate Planet Earth and the human being.
Dr. Michael T. Clarjen-Arconada, AQUA TERRA MAGNA PROJECT, Cerro del Sol Ecological communities, New York, USA  

I am concerned that scientists of all types are left with freedom to report their findings even should they conflict with industrial profit or government of the day policy. I particularly am concerned regarding the treatment of Jim Salenger who communicated with TV media without getting prior approval from NZ meteorolgical spin doctors. However I think this is a universal trend nowadays and should be resisted in every country.
David King, MIET, FIENZ, Retired power engineer, New Zealand

I am a member of the New Zealand Parliament for the last 13 years who relies on accurate and balanced science to make policy decisions. I have previously taught at Auckland University and I know how precious academic freedom is and am very concerned to hear of the interference with Dr Carman's work. She works in an area that is highly contentious with strong industry advocates and strong public concerns. It is vital that all the science is publicly available and that results not influenced by political or business considerations.
Jeanette Fitzsimons, New Zealand

(These are some of the comments sent by the more than 100 who signed the open letter posted on ISIS website: ,

Article first published 01/03/10

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