The "other" side
MWalker at gensym.com
Thu Aug 3 10:16:01 EDT 2000
Thanks for this.
Uncharacteristically, I've been doing some lurking as of late (I guess that
means doing more listening than ranting). This is the most sensible bit of
writing I've seen in a long while.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: lutzrun at AVALON.NET [mailto:lutzrun at AVALON.NET]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 01, 2000 11:20 AM
> To: leps-l at lists.yale.edu
> Subject: The "other" side
> Hello all . . . I really should be working, but this seemed like a
> reasonable opportunity to put my $0.02 worth in on a hot topic.
> Gary Anweiler wrote:
> "Well, pleased to meet you Paul. While yours may not be the
> most popular of
> positions, I for one am glad to hear from someone on the
> "other" side as
> I guess I just don't understand why it is called the "other"
> side. The
> unstated premise seems to be that anyone involved in pest control is
> anti-environment. This is not said in accusation . . .
> merely trying to
> probe the underlying terrain.
> My own thoughts on this are that anyone living in a house,
> driving a car,
> biking on a concrete path, etc., could also be considered
> since the natural equilibrium of the environment had to be
> disturbed to
> build houses, roads, paths, etc.
> The notion that we can and should share the earth with other
> organisms (not
> being 'speciesist,' I want to include plants and many other
> life forms,
> though I draw the line at sharing my body with pathogenic
> organisms--I kill
> them if they infect!) is excellent. I hope no one objects to
> that as a
> goal. However, the notion that we can live in 'harmony' with
> nature, not
> disturbing it at all, is like saying that my son's pet snake
> should live in
> harmony with rodents, or my daughter's pet tarantula should
> live in harmony
> with crickets. Organisms do and must exploit other organisms
> in order to
> survive. This involves disturbing the environment.
> Humans long ago disturbed the natural equilibrium when they invented
> agriculture. Monoculture, in particular, is an unnatural 'ecological'
> construct. I have no data on whether we could feed the human
> without monoculture (can anyone help me on that?) but suspect
> that we would
> end up letting huge numbers of people starve if we abandoned
> and agriculture.
> The point is this: in order to maintain the unnatural 'ecology' of
> agricultural systems, we need to keep insects (and various
> other living
> things) at bay. We deliberately design a literal insect
> utopia when we
> plant a field of wheat or corn . . . or leave an open box of
> oatmeal in the
> How can we keep insects at bay? Sure, we ought to share with
> our fellow
> travelers on planet Earth, but at what point do we draw the
> line and tell
> the Hessian fly that it can't have any more wheat--that we
> need it to feed
> our children?
> And how do we tell stalk borers and soybean loopers and brown
> to leave some for us?
> Realistically, unless there is pest control, we probably
> cannot produce
> enough food to keep the current human population alive. Even drastic
> methods of population control will take generations to bring the human
> population back to the point where we can feed everyone
> without resorting
> to pest control.
> Do I like using poisons in the environment? No. But I also
> don't like the
> idea of letting huge numbers of people starve, and since I
> don't have a
> time machine I can't go back to the hunter-gatherer societies
> and tell them
> not to invent agricuture, not to increase populations, not to invent
> medicine, not to prolong human life and decrease infant mortality.
> So, as in the little poem/prayer someone sent to me (Thanks,
> Anne!) we may
> have to learn to change the things we can while accepting the
> things we
> cannot change.
> Short of major catastrophe, which I hope no one wants to see,
> we are going
> to have to accept the challenge of feeding the people of the
> world, even if
> it means compromise with the ideal of living in harmony with
> nature. If we
> can feed the world's people while minimizing negative impact to the
> environment, so much the better. That's a noble goal if ever
> there was
> one! But we can't make the problem go away by maligning
> those among us
> whose profession is to find a way to reach that goal . . . and that
> includes work with pesticides, GMOs, cultural control
> methods, and plant
> No one has yet written the definitive book on how to produce
> enough food to
> prevent starvation, while at the same time minimizing environmental
> disturbance. And we not only need to feed all these people,
> we need to
> shelter and clothe them. An awesome challenge.
> My humble suggestion, on which I hope others will enlarge, is
> that we pool
> our knowledge and wisdom, not fight one another. If we
> operate with the
> unstated first premise that people in the pesticide industry are
> automatically anti-environment, we are wasting precious
> energy and time and
> creative intelligence squabbling with each other instead of
> combining our
> abilities to meet this phenomenal challenge of finding a way
> to support
> human life on Earth with minimum damage to our planet and maximum
> preservation of the wonders we inherited from the Past.
> Sorry to be so prolix; thanks for your kind patience. I'll
> be quiet now
> and go back to lurking while I try to get my kids ready for
> school (they
> start in less than 3 weeks and we still need supplies,
> schedules, etc.).
> In Stride,
> Martha Rosett Lutz
> P.S. No time to proof-read (sorry!) so I hope there are not
> too many copy
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