Readers Respond to the February 2011 Issue
As a flower shop owner I prefer buying in the U.S., but my hands are tied because most flowers are imported. Let’s turn the tables and build geothermal greenhouses to produce our flowers at home.
If buying flowers grown on U.S. farms from neighborhood florists “seems increasingly quaint” [“Flower Power”], it is no more quaint than buying an ink and paper magazine in order to read an article about flowers. If our intent is to race to the bottom, then I guess we should mindlessly buy the industrially produced grocery store flower arrangements and ignore the “quaint” neighborhood florists who buy flowers locally and support their community. I would suggest an article that focuses on the responsible “green” alternatives of the floral industry instead of wringing our hands and doing nothing.
Writer John McQuaid rightly notes in “Flower Power” that heavy water consumption by the cut-flower industry has created water shortages in Colombia. I would like to add that, in fact, any export of fresh produce is to a large extent an export of water. Thus it is a problem not only for flower-exporting regions but also for the production of fruits and vegetables in dry climates such as Southern California or Israel. Both areas have lost species because of the depletion of the water supply and agricultural expansion.
Ithaca, New York
Once again, mythology trumps full historical accuracy. In the item about the 175th anniversary of the Alamo and Texas independence from Mexico [This Month in History, “A Battle to Remember”], no mention is made of the fact that Davy Crockett and other defenders of the Alamo died for a cause lacking in nobility. A major motivation for the conflict was the Texans’ desire to own slaves. Mexico had abolished slavery in 1829, which left transplanted Americans wondering how they would keep their slaves if Mexico enforced its new law in Texas. Alamo “hero” Jim Bowie himself was a slave trader and slave smuggler. When such details are omitted, we’re left with a mythologized view of our true history.
Junction City, Oregon
A Greener Warsaw
It is encouraging to see Poland ridding itself of the terrible ghosts of the past [“Warsaw on the Rise”]. Warsaw’s building agenda is, therefore, an opportunity to incorporate alternative energy sources to reduce global warming. I hope the architects will add solar panels to those skyscrapers they are planning. Poland should also consider offshore wind turbines along the Baltic Sea coast to generate power instead of relying on Russian oil. That would be another way of distancing the country from its past.
Lancaster, New York
The article “The Reluctant President,” about George Washington taking up the leadership of a new nation, is particularly timely in light of recent events in Egypt. I hope people will read it and learn from it. Understanding how a government is created and maintained is a complex undertaking. Even though George Washington was reluctant to take office, he admirably carried out his duties. This country was fortunate to have had a man who shunned self-aggrandizement. Such lessons should be disseminated around the world.
Linda Kay Rose
The hauntingly beautiful image of Nebula M17 from the Spitzer Space Telescope [“Invisible Glory”] makes me wonder if Vincent van Gogh had somehow acquired infrared vision when he painted The Starry Night at Saint-Rémy, France.
Robert F. Alnutt