The numbers neil and balance

James J Kruse fnjjk1 at
Thu May 31 17:28:50 EDT 2001

No real lep content, some habitat content, mildly entertaining comments
on the social condition. Eh, you might like it/be amused by it anyway.

My comments to Patrick Foley's email follows:

I hate to interject realism into this beautiful utopia (sounds good on
digital screens and I could agree with much of it in spirit), but.....

> Natural habitat need not continue to decline. Human populations do not need to
> grow.

Okay, line up at the sterilization chambers. How do you plan on fixing the
population problem? ! rhetorical, lets not go back there. My point is that
it can't be fixed without bringing some Hitleresque tyrant into things,
or you irradiate folks without their knowing....

> Even if human populations do grow, we do not need to damage as much
> natural habitat as we sometimes do

What does this mean? As populations grow, people need housing, schools,
grocery stores, power plants, water, sewage treatment plants, landfills,
airports, bus stations, rail roads, factories, churches (buddist or
otherwise), etc, etc, etc...  Population growth and habitat alteration
are linked.

> need less farmland in the future if we genetically engineer our crops in a
> clever, safe and open way.

You just horrified many people. Many folks are totally against _any_
genetic manipulation of their food, and are often against the use of
pesticides too. Organic farming, in its true sense, needs more space than
other farming. "Organic" has different meanings to different people too. I
respect all different foods and ways of having your food.

(sidebar for limited amusement:  Even if you don't like Jeffrey Dahmer, he
at least ate what he killed.)

> We may need to mine less coal if we put solar collectors on every rooftop.

First off, this won't work in northerly latitudes where there is far
reduced sunlight in the winter when you need the power/heat most, nor
would it work well in perpetually rainy areas like Seattle or London.
Solar power stations to 'pipe' power to these areas would have to be
huge, much larger than other types of plants generating electricity.

Second, how are you going to get people to willingly put these big things
on their roof versus the little boiler down in the basement as it is now?
I grew up in a house with solar heating. We tried it. After 15 years of
trying it still needed oil heat as backup, it heated the water but did
nothing to help electricity, it cost us $25,000 back in 1980, and the
maintenance costs were astonishing.

> If our cities are beautiful, we may feel less need
> to trash the landscape with suburban development.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I know some city dwellers that think
that huge glass buildings with neon lights everywhere are beautiful and
could care less about the parks that are often the most dangerous parts of
cities. I think tortricid moths are beautiful... I think Olive Hairstreaks
are much more beautiful than Morphos or Birdwings... see? (hey, some lep
stuff did get in here).

If cities planted native trees I might be somewhat sympathetic to the
'bring the woods to town' idea, but they don't. They plant ginkos,
eucalyptus, Japanese maples, etc.

> 9) Since we will live in this complicated situation for the rest of our lives,
> live with it!

Thats how you eventually convince people to be apathetic and agree to live
under tyrants, kings and dictators. No, I can alter my attitudes (I am
not a victim of society...repeat), my habitat (as long as I don't obstruct
anyones scenic view), my lifestyle (unless I smoked, then I'd be a victim
deserving scorn, money, and some limited pity if it benefitted the person
doing the pitying), and I kinda like the ability to change things that I
want to/can change. "Think globally, act locally", "I have a siamese
cat and I vote", right?

> 10) Smoking, abortion, the Supreme court, the US Constitution, the God-given
> right of Americans to do any stupid thing they feel like are all beside the
> point.

No, not really. Think about what is important politically and religiously
and can have an effect on your every day life and rights, including
preserving/conserving habitat and making collections of butterflies.
These four things you mentioned are likely to be in the top 10 things you
can come up with in a list. The first two are rights (one way or the
other depending on where you put the fence), the second two uphold those
rights and everyone wants to either change these two things and what
they stand for or leave them alone. I can't see how they are not relevant.

> I am distressed by the extremism in my country (USA) which feels
> like it is falling apart,

So am I. Remember though, there are two extremes on the spectrum, not
just one.

James J. Kruse, Ph.D.
Curator of Entomology
University of Alaska Museum
907 Yukon Drive, PO Box 756960
Fairbanks, AK  USA  99775-6960
Phone: 907.474.5579
Fax: 907.474.1987/5469


   For subscription and related information about LEPS-L visit: 

More information about the Leps-l mailing list