Dan Rodrick’s tribute to Bob Bruninga is apt (“The Remarkable Bob Bruninga Thought We Could Lick Our Fossil Fuel Addiction,” March 8). But licking our addiction to fuel doesn’t mean eliminating our need for oil. According to the University of Wisconsin, in 2018, 19% of U.S. crude oil was used for gasoline, 11% for diesel fuel, 4% for aviation fuel, and 1% for heating oil.
The remaining 65% is used to make tyres, battery cases, seat fiber and foams and plastics for Mr. Bruninga’s interesting cars, not to mention the asphalt roads he has driven on. Along with most plastics, many pharmaceuticals, the gases used to make steel and glass, even the ink used to write and print Mr. Rodrick’s columns are crude oil by-products.
Yes, conservation is essential to preserve our way of life. But wind, solar or nuclear power cannot produce any of these essential by-products. And a cleaner environment will not result in “dirty” industries being exported to China, India and Russia as the net global carbon footprint would be zero. We in the West have to face the challenge of developing a really clean, optimally efficient use of energy, simply because nobody but us can and wants to do it.
Warren Hartenstine, Havre de Grace
Small businesses are an important part of the economy in Baltimore and across the state, but many of these business owners face tight budgets and struggle to provide benefits to their employees. This applies in particular to health insurance; often the cost of coverage is prohibitive for them.
A bill pending in the General Assembly (HB 709/SB 632) would contribute to this. It would set up a new state fund that would provide up to $45 million a year in subsidies to help small businesses offer health insurance for their employees. This would help many more Marylanders get affordable health insurance, giving them peace of mind and ensuring they have access to the care they need.
This bill would also benefit business owners; Employees with good benefits are more loyal and likely to stay in the job, reducing turnover costs. As we cover more Marylanders, the cost of unpaid health care is falling, lowering the overall cost for everyone. This law is a win for small businesses, a win for workers, and a win for our entire state. I urge the General Assembly to champion small business and make it law.
Jasmine Shaw, Baltimore
I’m writing in response to an article entitled “Could ‘smart surfaces’ keep Baltimore cool (and sane)?” published on March 8th. Low-income urban neighborhoods overheat disproportionately and face far worse side effects than wealthier communities. The division of inequality is clear: neighborhoods full of lush trees are heavily sheltered from those with bare front yards.
In the long term, smarter surfaces would reduce overall heat, leading to more outdoor activity, less obesity, a drop in energy bills, air pollution, and hospitalizations. All positive, but will this modernization of infrastructure invite new wealthier community members to displace the current urban population? I also think that arguing that smart surfaces benefit tourists, too, once again undermines struggling communities.
But if we can muster enough support from the community, both tourists and residents, together we could make Baltimore cooler and healthier.
Penny Naden, Baltimore
The American thirst for gasoline comes to an undesirable fruit. One of the contributing issues, aside from the type of vehicle we drive, is the fact that far too many people who don’t work remotely have chosen to live far from their place of work. To hell with the environment, they love living in the rural parts of a state — or even a neighboring state — far from the metropolis where they are employed.
It has never bothered people to set up for an hour commute as they discovered digital ways to make daytime travel time productive and local governments looked for ways to increase lanes on freeways and main roads. The idea of electric cars is an ideal dream, but there are many flaws that need to be fixed.
Now that gas prices have increased, it’s time for all Americans to reconsider their commute and realize they really need to move closer to work, shopping, and services like daycare.
Georgia Corso, Baltimore