Dear Mother: December 2006/January 2007

Readers write in about Al Gore, local co-ops and more.

| December 2006/January 2007

  • FlyOrDrive
    Jet contrails reflect heat back toward Earth, especially at night.
  • Pond
    Rick Lawrence’s pond in Wadsworth, Ill.
  • PaulJohnson
    Paul Johnson is a northeast Kansas organic market gardener and a family-farm legislative advocate for several churches in Kansas.
  • FlexFuelGasCap
    Most flexible-fuel vehicles require at least 15 percent gasoline to ensure they can start at low temperatures.

  • FlyOrDrive
  • Pond
  • PaulJohnson
  • FlexFuelGasCap

More Grandpa, Less Gore

I have been a subscriber to Mother Earth News for many years and enjoy most of the articles. The article “Grandpa’s Hobbit House” (October/November 2006) is one of the best you have ever published. I just wish I lived close to this rare individual so I could visit him. This article more than made up for the article by Al Gore. He is a genuine piece of work and should fold up his tent, go quietly into the night and bother us no more.

Lou Hankins
Severn, Maryland

Try a Co-op for Local Food

Thanks for your excellent article on the importance of buying local food (“How to Find the Best Food,” August/September 2006). It was especially valuable that you offered simple, concrete ways that people can find local food and support local economies. One action that I didn’t see listed, however, was “Join Your Local Food Co-op.” Not only have food co-ops been pioneers in emphasizing local and organic food, but they also are dramatically different from supermarkets and natural-foods chains because they are community-based businesses controlled by their members. Today there are about 300 food co-ops across the country. To find one in your area, visit

If there isn’t a food co-op in your community, start one! Many successful co-ops started when a few people who couldn’t find local, organic produce in grocery stores got together to start one themselves. Today, programs such as “Food Co-op 500” and organizations such as the Cooperative Fund of New England offer support to people who want to start co-ops in their communities. For more information, visit and

Thanks, and keep up the great work!

Erbin Crowell
President, Cooperative Fund of New England
Chepachet, Rhode Island

To Fly or To Drive, That is the Question

In response to the “Reduce Air Travel” section within the excerpt of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in the October/November issue, I’d like to clarify that it’s not always better in terms of global warming to drive rather than fly. The relative impact of either depends on several key factors. The vehicle’s mpg, its EPA Air Pollution Score, the number of passengers, tire air pressure and the driver’s driving style all can affect the impact.

Much of an aircraft’s emissions are generated during takeoff and landing, so short-range flights have a higher CO2 output per passenger-mile than long-haul flights. Short-range aircraft also typically use less efficient engines and experience more drag because they fly at lower altitudes. Long-haul flights, such as the 3,100-mile trip across the United States, with average occupancy may be less carbon-intensive (958 pounds of CO2) than a single-occupant vehicle (1,390 pounds of CO2). So for long trips for one person, it’s better to fly than to drive. Avoid red-eye flights—there is new evidence that flying at night has a greater impact on global warming (see “Hot Trails” in the September 2006 Scientific American).

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