People first,

then climate

While global warming has no doubt contributed to the drought in Africa, it would be more productive if the world concentrated on helping the starving people there now ("Aid group: Rains fail again across East Africa,", Thursday).

If the billions of dollars that have been spent on the topic of global warming over the past 20 or 30 years had been used to provide seeds, help in irrigation and farming methods, planting trees and bushes, harnessing the flood waters, etc., the starvation in Africa would have been greatly reduced, and global warming might also have been reduced.

Perhaps the world should get its priorities straight. Help starving people first.

Carol Nickels


Meat and dairy's

toll on environment

With the international climate conference in Copenhagen, the world's attention is focused on global warming and the resulting coastal flooding and extreme weather patterns ("U.S.-China impasse stalls climate meeting," Wednesday).

An article in World Watch magazine suggests that most man-made greenhouse gases responsible for global warming are emitted not from industrial smokestacks or car exhausts, but from meat and dairy production.

The chief greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures. The much more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are discharged from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

Each of us can help reduce global warming three times a day. Our local supermarket stocks a rich variety of soy-based lunch "meats," hotdogs, veggie burgers, dairy products, and ready-to-eat frozen dinners, as well as a cornucopia of more traditional fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Product lists and easy recipes are at

Sheldon Latchiver


Church consistent

on choosing life

Re: "Inconsistent church policy," letter, Dec. 6:

Contrary to what the writer asserts, for more than 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has been totally consistent in its doctrine, following God's mandate that life is sacred from conception until natural death. Even secularists can agree that abortion, war, and capital punishment are dissimilar and not interchangeable when honoring the commandment.

As the leading promoter of world peace, the church exhorts all nations to prudence and peaceful negotiation rather than war, and likewise prays for the repentance of even the most hardened criminal, pleading with governments for clemency in light of capital punishment.

However, the church understands that governments and society have the right to defend themselves. There are occasions when they are justified for self-defense.

In contrast, abortion is, in itself, an intrinsic evil - never justified - as it involves the willful murder of a human being who is incapable of any wrongdoing.

Any Catholic politician who ignores such a basic tenet of the faith in his professional or personal life by disingenuously abusing the principle of separation of church and state only deludes himself.

Lois Marcolongo


Minds out

of the gutter

Enough already. Do we really care that much about an affair? Oh, wait, there was Bill Clinton and John Edwards, Larry Craig and Mark Sanford. Ted Haggard and David Letterman. Men with men, men with women, women with men and women. It crosses the aisle; it covers business and religion; and it crosses our minds.

Tiger Woods has to answer to his wife, family, and himself. He is probably doing a pretty lousy job of that right now, but he had to do that before the media played their trump card - regardless of relevance.

We are all better than this.

Peter Witonsky

Bryn Mawr

Keep pushing

for human rights

In the month we celebrate Human Rights Day, Trudy Rubin's article "Lives lost for human rights" (Wednesday) was timely and relevant. As we enter the holiday season, it's both uncomfortable and difficult to imagine those individuals around the world whose voices have been silenced and whose bodies broken by repressive regimes, their only crime being to speak out about injustice inflicted on their fellow men and women.

Rubin's column mentions two such individuals. I will be sending two extra pieces of mail this Christmas, to the embassy and consular offices of Russia and Iran. I will ask for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the detention and deaths of these two men, and maybe by the time Human Rights Day comes around next December, the perpetrators of these horrendous violations will have been held accountable for their actions.

Janet Bruner