Does the world need us?

Patrick Foley patfoley at
Sun Apr 21 10:59:36 EDT 2002


I appreciate your clearing up one point, namely that you are not paid to
lobby or do PR.

I hope you are being less disingenuous about this than you are about the
email pseudonyms. I clearly asked whether you had used pseudonyms on this
or other lists, and you have carefully avoided responding fully. If you are
to be taken as a credible voice _for_ scientific honesty, you must do so.

And you have attacked my intellectual honesty (on this list and on
ECOLOG-L) on the grounds that I support Paul Ehrlich's right to exaggerate
future environmental dangers. This required at least two twistings of the
truth: 1) I have never claimed Ehrlich was right to make mistakes, at most
joked about it, and 2) You know and I know and everyone on this list knows
that Ehrlich's scientific papers and books are much less subject to error
than his attempts to predict the future. Yet year after year you pretend
that his imperfect (but useful as a handle for solving problems) vision of
the future is evidence of his scientific dishonesty and that of other
scientists and environmentalists.

If you want to claim that Ehrlich is no better than you in predicting the
future, do so. Then sell some books. That is what Julian Simon has done
with mixed success. That is what Bjorn Lomborg has done (although my
reading of his chapter on biodiversity is not flattering to Lomborg's
familiarity and understanding of the subject). If you want to claim Ehrlich
lacks scientific integrity because he is wrong, you show either malice or
naivete. I honestly don't know which. I disagree with Ehrlich on some
scientific approaches and on the precise dating of many of his predictions.
But that doesn't make him my enemy. I disagree with you and Bruce Walsh
about the scientific merits and problems associated with nonlocal butterfly
releases. That does not make you my enemies. This seems like introductory
lessons in the philosophy of science, and I apologize for seeming
patronizing. The real problems of the world need solving. Who cares if
Ehrlich is an egomaniac or you are an outlaw or I write too many posts. If
we do not understand the world and act appropriately we will lose it.
Ehrlich was right about this and you are wrong. What are you going to do
about this?

Patrick Foley
patfoley at

Paul Cherubini wrote:

> Pat Foley wrote:
> > This list is dedicated I think to the discussion of Lepidoptera.
> > But if people  on this list use email pseudonyms and are paid
> > to take certain positions, then we are being scammed. You don't
> > care about this?
> No Pat, I have never used email pseudonyms on this list or accepted
> money from butterfly breeders (or other commercial interests) to do
> public relations, "education" or the equivalent in their interest.  Nor
> have I ever been offered money for such purposes.
> > And don't you think that overpopulation, habitat degradation,
> > resource over-exploitation and biodiversity loss are serious
> > problems? If you think they are problems, why do you attack
> > the people who are trying to find solutions to the problems?
> Pat, sometimes monarch scientists and conservationists do
> not identify scientifically legitimate problems or overstate and
> exaggerate the problems creating unjustified public worry and
> concern. All I do is explain why the concerns or claims
> may not have a legitimate scientific basis. And I try to use
> photographs or scientific data or modeling to make my points.
> For example, in his latest annual newsletter, Dr. Orley (Chip)
> Taylor wrote the following in regard to the Chivati monarch
> overwintering site in Mexico:
> "Chivati is a severely deforested area near the monarch
> overwintering sites. This site was formerly a major roosting
> site for monarchs."
> I think the casual reader would conclude a major overwintering
> site in Mexico had been destroyed by loggers. A very
> serious and worrisome problem indeed (if true).
> But the fact is the Chivati mountain continues to support
> a small to medium sized overwintering site just as it always
> has since scientists began monitoring the site 23 years ago.
> In fact, just a few weeks ago Chip Taylor posted the official
> Mexican government monarch overwintering site census figures
> for the winter of 2001-2002.The Chivati colony (Los Trozos) was
> measured at 0.42 hectares in size (= 4,200,000 butterflies) and
> 148 trees were covered with butterflies. Back in the1980's there
> were years when this colony was much smaller than 0.42 hectares
> in size.
> Also, the Chivati mountain was primarily deforested by forest
> fires, not loggers  Big chunks of forest are still intact which the
> butterflies are still using
> Paul Cherubini
> Placerville, Calif.
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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