The Value of Charcoal

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It is understandable that charcoal is a valuable commodity in Congo ["The Story Behind the Deaths in the Jungle," February 18].

One must appreciate the desperation that creates the circumstances for humans in the region to do almost anything to obtain the commodity. However, what makes no sense is how the United States can spend billions on securing oil reserves in Iraq but not provide aid in the form of charcoal to save gorillas, a world treasure. The United States could ship $400 million worth of charcoal to the Congo, creating wider availability for all people and eliminating the need to destroy forests and mountain gorillas.

Pete Taylor


Montgomery , Ala.