by Stephen Hesse

Dear readers, as you rarely get the last word, this week’s column aims to put that right.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the dangers of our society’s addiction to oil, and noted that much of the world still believes the primary purpose of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was to dominate its oil supplies and establish regional hegemony. I also outlined some environmental threats posed by oil-dependence, and made brief mention of one author’s suggestion that we look to hemp as a less harmful alternative to oil.

These are excerpts from some of your e-mail responses.

Thank you so much for your article “Oil dependence: Addiction rages blindly on” in The Japan Times. I read it on globalhemp.com and could not quite believe I had just come across such a clear and concise commentary on our current situation . . .

As a longtime hemp and cannabis activist, it both pains and pleases me to see the urgency of so many of our efforts cropping up and crossing over into other political arenas. As the illegal aggression in Iraq has unfolded, it has become all too clear that the oil fields and refineries were the only real objectives: The first announcements from Reuters were all about quick incursions to secure key facilities . . . no real interest in civil affairs or security has yet been indicated . . . confirmed today with the story of the Museum of Baghdad left looted . . . U.S. GIs watched as people walked off with arguably the most significant collection of cultural antiquities and ancient writings since the destruction of the Library at Alexandria . . . —- Oliver, Oregon

Ya best quit smokin rope! You’ll get to where you think Globbular Warming is REAL and hiding under your bed and Hemp can replace cheap OIL!! And Bush is not near as good a president, or man as Clinton.

I started to laugh, but I used to know some Hemp Heads. Poor guys. Get some Tequila instead!!” —- Ron, Japan

Thank you so much for finally linking hemp and the war for oil . . . I was beginning to think it taboo to bring up the “marijuana conspiracy,” though I must disagree with the statement that hemp is a “cousin” to marijuana . . . they’re the same plant! Hemp is just grown closely so the stalks are longer and the males can pollinate the females and produce seeds. —- Sean, Pennsylvania

Nice job laying out the oil addiction — and then at the end laying out some truths about hemp. I am reminded of [U.S. Vice President] Dick Cheney’s comments that conservation is a “personal virtue” when they released their fossil fuels concentrated energy plan in 2001.

The American political scene is despicable at the moment — last summer they couldn’t even get the SUV mileage-per-gallon standard lowered a single mile. It boggles the mind what is happening — our congress did NOT DEBATE THE WAR ISSUE — to them it was that clear that we simply had to go to war — It is obscene. —- Marcel, Kyoto

What’s with Republicans?? I’ve spoken to a few dozen, and they’re convinced that not only does marijuana cause brain damage, but also is “wrong” in every sense of the word. They also claim to be democratic and believe in freedom. They KNOW Saddam Hussein is behind 9/11 . . . —- Sean, Pennsylvania (again)

To get rid of oil we need something else that can be used on a grand scale. Don’t talk about solar, wind, biomass, etc. They just don’t work on the scale needed. Don’t talk about fuel cells, which consume hydrogen, unless you also discuss the source of power needed to create the hydrogen. If it’s fossil fuel, you’ve caused more problems than you’ve solved. There is only one realistic choice, as we should get going on it: nuclear power. The means exist to make it inherently safe and with a waste disposal that is far superior to dumping fossil fuel wastes into the air as we do now. I will take my chances with radioactivity, which decays, to toxic chemicals, which do not. —- Bob, New Mexico — employee of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Thank you for your comments about industrial hemp, marijuana and oil. I’ve known about some of these facts for years, but as a “criminal” user of the product for recreational use, I didn’t feel free to talk about it in public. My smoking got out of control so I had to give it up. . . . As a former user, I’m free to talk about hemp in public. I’m hitting the big 60 this year and am having more fun being an antiwar activist than I ever did in my job (retired bureaucrat). —- John, the United States

Excellent, excellent article. Thank you for that wonderful gift to humanity.

Now, more fervently than ever, I am holding the vision of any and all misqualified and miscreated energy being transformed right here and right now. —- Phyllis, Western Samoa

Now, like you maybe, I am convinced that the lure or will-of-the-wisp of Cheap Oil was the real drive element in Regime Change of Iraq. More likely a Pandora’s Box of the regional mosaic going into meltdown, but we won’t go into that. —- Andrew, England

I liked this piece. The U.S. commitment to preserving economic growth at any cost is a compelling motivation for an invasion of Iraq.

Although you mention the 1970 peak of U.S. oil production, some comments in your piece indicate you have not fully integrated the implications of the world peak of oil production. In particular, you mention only planetary warming and pollution as lethal effects of petroleum addiction. There is an even more lethal effect: overshoot of world population created by the windfall abundance of petroleum.

As petroleum declines after its world peak of production, the world population must decline to 1 or 2 billion by the end of the century. Desperate competition to be among the survivors will destroy much carrying capacity, with the result that [this] will be much lower after petroleum than it was in the middle of the 19th century. —- David, Canada