07 April 2008 00:00 [Source: ICB]
After having his previous letter published, one of our readers gets a taste of life as a celebrity, when he is asked for his autograph. And another chemical magazine questions our use of American English
FEEDBACK IN PERSON AT NPRA MEETING
I was at the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA) annual meeting in San Antonio recently and one attendee met with me, your magazine in hand, and asked me to autograph my letter to the editor that you published ("No more junk science" ICIS Chemical Business, March 24).
I have known this person for years, so I thought he was just kidding me. Instead, he was serious. He went through the trouble of carrying a week-old issue of your magazine through the airports, to put it in front of me. I autographed the letter.
And by the way, here are two comments that I have fielded from others in regards to the letter you published.
1. Most of the corn is grown in the US Midwest but half the US population lives near the coasts, far from the corn. The energy used to move all those ethanol rail cars for such long distances also generates a significant amount of carbon dioxide.
2. The US is now growing food for fuel. This is a profoundly inefficient way of generating energy, and it has many ripple effects.
For instance, the ethanol mandate has dramatically changed supply and demand balances for food grains, especially corn. This has caused outrageous price increases at the wholesale level for grains, and food price inflation at the consumer level in the stores.
Cattle ranchers are slaughtering cattle now, because they can't afford the feed. That will depress beef prices in the near term, but probably will cause a shortage of beef later on, since the culled herds will not be replenished until feed costs come down.
As the government blithely requires increasing ethanol usage, the strain on biomass supply and logistics will worsen, causing even higher grain prices. Now, what happens if the US gets hit with a major drought that wipes out some crop yields?
If consumers think food prices are high today, watch what happens next!
Depending on the severity of a drought, parts of the world may go hungry, since much of our grain exports will have to stay here to satisfy domestic demand. Our brilliant legislators have not thought all this through. They have stretchedthe agricultural sector to breaking point.
Ken Domeshek, Houston, Texas
DOES US SPELLING PROVE US BIAS?
I notice that Brian Orange, in complaining about supposed preponderance of US articles in the magazine, spells "colour" the American way. Does that prove his point (because you edited it that way) or does it show that the battle for the English language is being lost even among those who want the tide held back?
Andrew Warmington, Editor, Speciality Chemicals Magazine, Redhill, UK
Deputy Editor's response:
As more than half of our readership is in the US, it made sense to adopt US spelling. This does not, though, imply US bias. We simply had to make a choice!
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