Danish goes to extremes
[Re: “Ban fracking? Why stop there?” Danish Plan, Nov. 28.] Paul Danish’s farcical “win-win” amendment proposal suffers from two main problems. First, he mischaracterizes and lampoons ordinary people opposed to hydraulic fracking as a horrifying hybrid of technology-hating Luddites and Earth First eco-warriors, dismissing all opponents to fracking as idiots at best and extremists at worst. Not exactly a nuanced position to take if he truly wants to make a compelling argument against allowing individual cities the ability to ban fracking.
Second, his so-called solution can’t be taken seriously because it is just arguing extremes. “If you have a problem with mountain-top coal removal, then I guess we should ban all electricity everywhere and just live in caves!” No Paul, questioning specific methods by which energy is produced does not automatically mean a return to the 1700s. Questioning the safety and efficacy of hydraulic fracking does not automatically transform an ordinary citizen into an anti-capitalistic eco-terrorist that wants to burn down ski lodges.
It just makes them a reasonable individual.
Not so fast on nuclear
[Re: “The Hansen letter,” Danish Plan, Nov. 14.] Paul Danish resumes his drumbeat for nuclear, citing climatologist James Hansen’s recently voiced support of nuclear energy. But Danish sidesteps important phrases in Hansen’s letter — that new technology and near-term innovation can improve nuclear power. It can be done, but it’s not here yet. Technology may be here and innovations close, but actual power plants using them are well off — figure a decade or so. We’ve got to survive that decade.
Environmentalists don’t necessarily oppose nuclear power! But we (I count myself one) oppose hacks to existing technology that don’t address the real problems. For example, adding a layer of containment only marginally improves reactor safety and doesn’t address the fundamental problem: operating at such high pressures that severe containment is required.
Politics and added security won’t solve the proliferation problems. A viable nuclear power plant technology must (1) use a fuel cycle incapable of runaway reaction, (2) be incapable of producing weapons-grade radioactive material, (3) produce much smaller quantities of radioactive waste than current plants, and (4) produce waste products with much shorter half-lives. ((3) and (4) address the techno-sociopolitical “waste problem” that pro-nukes always ignore.)
There are nuclear technologies coming along which look to be able to meet those criteria. The U.S. should throw a few billion at the problems — heck, we’ve spent far more money on stupid ideas. Safe energy is a matter of national security, world stability and peace, progress, etc., etc. Just don’t think that gets us off the hook for conserving energy, nor for developing solar, wind, geothermal, wave/tide and other alternative energy sources. Even if safe nuclear power is the grand and glorious future, we need the others at least to avoid a literal “dark age” interregnum, plus for remote and developing areas.
Lastly, we must stop ignoring the elephant in the room: population growth.
[Re: “One runner’s high: ‘In the High Country’ at the Adventure Film Festival,” Adventure, Oct. 3.] Twice I have personally seen the subject of this piece, ultrarunner Anton Krupicka, running straight up and down the hillside of the Longs Peak Trail. While short-cutting the established trail is not a punishable offense, it is discouraged by the Forest Service by the posting of signs and frowned upon by caring hikers everywhere. I can’t believe Mr. Krupicka could be ignorant of the damage to the landscape his short-cutting can cause, so why then does he feel he is exempt from the ethics that caring hikers follow to preserve our trails?
The Longs Peak trail is very popular, and many of the people there have never heard of trail ethics. Mr. Krupicka seems to be oblivious of the bad example he sets for others on the trail who see him short-cutting the switchbacks.
I realize that in his single-minded pursuit of running Mr. Krupicka may be self-centered enough to not care. In case Mr. Krupicka is actually ignorant and oblivious, would someone inform him of the consequences of his actions?
Joel Wolpert, director of the film profiling Krupicka, In the High Country, responds: This notion of cutting switchbacks is a tricky subject and it comes down to personal responsibility in the parks and elsewhere. There is a distinction made between cutting switchbacks and going ‘overland’. As I understand it, cutting switchbacks is literally cutting the corners of an established trail. Done repeatedly, this cuts a groove in the terrain along the fall line (the line which a drop of water would follow rolling down the mountain) that makes it easier for storms to wash out the trail.
Going overland is simply striking out over the terrain without a trail. This, I believe, is allowed by the National Parks Service, and causes no more damage than an elk or deer taking the same route. I think the logic behind it is that going overland is implicitly not on a trail, so the impact on the landscape isn’t concentrated on one path as it is in cutting switchbacks.
In my experience running with Anton, we didn’t cut corners, but we did do a fair amount of overland running.