Bend the Facts
Joshua Stuart Rose
jsr6 at duke.edu
Wed Jun 13 16:16:09 EDT 2001
I try to stay out of these things, and in particular to respect the
minority attitudes of the conservatives on the list. They really do have
some good points on occasion. Unfortunately, Paul Cherubini just went too
far, and posted some severe half-truths that require completion in the
name of honesty.
Paul Cherubini wrote:
> Leroy C. Koehn, Georgetown, Kentucky wrote:
> > I have watched many of my favorite localities and habitats leveled by
> > the bulldozer.
> But you didn't mention that probably most and maybe all these favorite
> localties were created by bulldozers, plows and saws to begin with.
> Kentucky was mostly all hardwood forest 200 years ago and plows and
> saws probably created the clearings where you found good butterflying
> in years' past.
I've only been through Kentucky once, but a similar statement about North
Carolina would be an outrageous falsehood. NC traditionally had a great
variety of wetland habitats, several different classifications of
woodlands, and even a few natural grasslands. It's easy to wave
dismissively at "all hardwood forest", but the fact is that they're not
all alike! Mountains, foothills, swamps, floodplains, stream and river
valleys; all have hardwood forests, each with different species of trees
and understory plants, and each with different species of butterflies.
The clearings make nice habitat for common backyard species which can be
found anywhere in the eastern US, while displacing a much larger variety
of scarcer, more sensitive species that have far smaller or more
> > I have seen the drift from insecticide spraying of crops kill
> > thousands of insects around the fields and into the forest, including
> > butterflies.
> But you didn't mention that thousands is nothing in relation to the
> millions of insects and butterflies that were not exposed and not
> killed, so the overall impact is likely trivial. Butterflies continue
> to be abundant (though diversity has been reduced) in the most
> intensely farmed land on the planet: (the midwestern USA).
Funny how casually he tosses off that parenthetical phrase, "(though
diversity has been reduced)". This is the ONLY IMPORTANT POINT! Does
anyone really care how abundant butterflies are, if it's the same 10 or
20 species everywhere in the US? Birds continue to be abundant in New
York City, in fact they're probably far more abundant now than they ever
were before this country was colonized; who cares if all those birds are
Rock Doves, House Sparrows, Starlings, and the occasional Monk Parakeet,
with Mute Swans, Mallards and feral Canada Geese around the ponds? Who
cares that wood warblers, tanagers, thrushes, and native waterfowl and
waders that once bred there can only be found as increasingly rare
Homogenization is perhaps the greatest threat to the environment today,
incorporating habitat destruction, invasive/exotic species, and many
other factors under its umbrella. The number of butterflies, birds,
plants, or other organisms in an area is not a valid indicator of
ecological health; biodiversity and endemism are far more important.
Joshua S. Rose
Department of Biology (Zoology, R.I.P.)
jsr6 at acpub.duke.edu
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