Wed, Dec 16, 2009 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Why Aborigines support KMT

Many outsiders coming to Taiwan find Aboriginal support for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) hard to understand. Given the suppression of their cultures, languages and even their names during the five decades of one-party rule, one might imagine their disenchantment with the organ of that rule would be as great or greater than that of the Hoklo Taiwanese, and that Aborigines would be staunch supporters, and even leaders, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Reading the smug post-­election “victory” analysis by Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑) of the DPP-allied New Society for Taiwan (“Has Ma done anything right yet?,” Dec.13, page 8), helps to explain why Aborigines do not trust the opposition:

“In Taitung County, the DPP closed the gap from 20,000 votes in 2005 to around 5,000 this time. If we subtract the votes of the county’s Aborigines, who are mostly loyal Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) voters, the DPP would have won in Taitung. This result shows how angry people in Taitung are about the performance of outgoing county commissioner Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞), who used to enjoy Ma’s strong support.”

Why not go the whole hog and argue that Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) election as president should not stand because of all the women who voted for his “good looks”? But no; thanks to the influence of former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and others, sexism is taboo in the party, at least in explicit terms. Clearly not racism, however.

Ridding itself of such attitudes would help transform the DPP into a truly liberal party and, as a pleasant side effect, increase its chances of electoral success.

MARK CALTONHILL

Wugu, Taipei County

Man-made climate change

Global warming has been a controversial issue for two decades. Some think global warming is caused mainly by carbon dioxide from the combustion of coal, oil and gas, while others think global warming is no more than a normal part of the natural climate cycle.

Some claim that global cooling has taken place in recent years, but that the data indicating this have been covered up by “global warming scientists.” The expression “global warming” has been replaced by “climate change,” presumably because the latter can cover both global warming and cooling. During global cooling, should we emit more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

The US Environmental Protection Agency recently said that carbon dioxide is hazardous to health. If this is true, people should refrain from drinking beer and carbonated soft drinks. Believe it or not, carbon dioxide now joins alcohol and sugar as unhealthy ingredients in beverages.

The US Department of Energy recently announced that it would award US$334 million to American Electric Power in Columbus, Ohio, to finance about half the cost of the first commercial-scale carbon dioxide capture and storage project for a coal-fired power plant in New Haven, West Virginia. Carbon dioxide will be absorbed from a slipstream of flue gas equivalent to 20 megawatts, compressed and injected underground at a depth of 1.5 miles (2.4km) for storage. If the total cost is US$668 million, the interest is 5 percent per year, the plant lasts for 20 years, and operation is 8,760 hours a year, the roughly estimated cost of the carbon dioxide capture and storage would be US$0.38/kWh. Hopefully this cost can be reduced drastically in future plants. The residential electricity cost is typically US$0.10/kWh.

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