I find is disheartening that the American attention span has grown so short that we can process only one crisis at a time.

While promoters of alternative energy technologies have long predicted the growth of international hostilities over a shrinking reserve of oil, only now has the general public begun to worry about oil shortages and options available in the coming years to fill our energy needs. The horror is that in our new-found urgency to rediscover coal and synthetic fuels as ''energies of the future,'' we have forgotten the greenhouse effect, the crisis of last year.

The environmental disaster that would be perpetrated by development of these carbon-based alternatives seemed clear months ago but has now been lost in the new wave of energy panic. We must begin to cultivate safe, renewable energies and not allow our hysteria to lead us into spending fortunes on technologies that we will have to replace again in only a few years.

Global warming will not disappear, and we must begin to deal with it.


As I strolled through Georgetown last Tuesday, I was amazed to find that, in spite of the humidity and the high temperature, I felt a cool breeze continually flow around me. At least two-thirds of the stores and restaurants I passed had their doors wide open, allowing the cool air produced by their air conditioners to escape. Is this their attempt to combat the greenhouse effect? If so, it should be recognized that by using more energy even more particulate matter will be released into the air.

Moreover, at a time when U.S. military service people might lose their lives to protect our oil supply, it is scandalous to repay their service with wanton energy habits. There is no justification for air conditioning the great outdoors. If the problem is that the store appears closed, a few "open" signs would remedy that immediately. Please, keep the doors closed.

PAMELA M. BATES Washington