Environmental Economics

Rick Bass's impassioned plea for wetlands preservation and decreased logging ["Double Talk," Journal, November-December] was heart-warming but utterly futile. Mr. Bass failed to take into account Economics 101, namely "Supply vs. Demand," or in this case, producers vs. consumers. Mr. Bass's emotional appeal flies in the face of awesome socioeconomic factors. A couple of things might be done or hoped for. An appeal to the consciences of wealthy people might help. Many of them probably claim to be "environmentally concerned" as they gobble up natural resources at an unseemly rate. On a grim note: An economic recession will benefit natural resources, as people cut back on building more and bigger homes. Environmental groups push the Environmental Protection Agency and the auto industry for higher-mileage vehicles, but no market has yet developed for huge SUVs with 75-horsepower motors. Two presidential elections back, the cry was: "It's the economy, stupid!" The cry for preservation of natural resources should be: "It's the demand, stupid!" The way things stand, a greedy or unthinking public is going to get what it wants, and what it wants is neither environmentally good nor sustainable.

Robert H. Paschall
Bishop, California

Editor's Note: For ideas on lessening your personal impact on the earth, see "Green House" and our "Backyard" gardening columns.

Defending the Arctic

To Rick Bass's excellent discussion of "Double-Talk," I would add a note. As a young editorial assistant at Audubon, I was taught by my mentors to always write, and say, "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge"--or simply, "Arctic Refuge" or "the refuge"--and not ANWR, an industry acronym for our crown jewel of wildernesses. We believed, naively perhaps, that it could make a difference. With the refuge once again threatened by oil drilling (let's also forgo the gentle term extraction), who's to say it wouldn't matter again?

Fred Baumgarten
Sharon, Connecticut

I want to thank you for publishing Art Wolfe's picture of the snowy owlet in the September-October 2001 issue. My family and I loved it so much that we framed it. The little thing seemed to jump right out of the picture and say "Save me!" How could anyone want to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if it means possibly losing faces like that?

Michelle Magenheim
New York, New York

On Monday, September 10, before the terrorist attacks, I wrote to my senators to oppose oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I used a businesslike approach to show why drilling for oil there did not make sense. Those arguments are still legitimate, but somehow they seem less significant now than they did a month ago. The important matters today are family, friends, loved ones, and America: its ideals, its values, its people, and--as Jean Ribaut described it in 1563--"this incomperable lande." On September 10, the move to disrupt the vast stillness of the Arctic was simply a bad idea. Today it is sacrilegious. In the months and years to come there will be many calls to ravish our land and abuse our resources in the name of the "war on terrorism." If we Americans ignore our ideals and our heritage and give in to these calls, then the terrorists have already won. It is time for America's businesses to stand with America's people and America's values and oppose oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Dan Styer
Oberlin, Ohio

Editor's Note: For some more perspective on the post-September 11 world, see "Loving the Land" and the related articles in "This Land Is Your Land." To order a copy of the September-October issue, or other individual issues of Audubon, click here. To subscribe to Audubon, click here.

Here's to the Bronx Zoo!

Thank you for the excellent article on zoos ["The New Zoo"]. I was a docent at the Bronx Zoo from 1975 to 1981 and although I have lived in the San Diego area for more than 20 years now, my heart still belongs to the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society. I have the greatest respect and admiration for William G. Conway and all that he accomplished there.

Helen Aprea
Chula Vista, California

Control Issue

I read "Out of Control," by Ted Williams [September-October], with distress. It's labeled "Incite," and that seems to be its main purpose. The author paints a whole group as bad with one brush. My experience with Florida Mosquito Control directors, as a veteran U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, is very different than what is described. They are professionals who exercise great caution and consider all options. They have supported the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory at the University of Florida. They use modern source reduction: impoundments and open-marsh ditching techniques, bacterial toxins, and insect growth regulators for larval control. They have instituted rotational impoundment-management techniques to allow other organisms into and out of impounded marshes. Most of their efforts have been in cooperation with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Open forums and regulations assure that agencies are not overly influenced by pesticide manufacturers and that natural areas are protected. We in Audubon need to focus on the elimination of fenthion, because there are better alternatives available. I hope we can work with mosquito-control agencies, but I do not believe this kind of article leads to cooperation.

Joseph D. Carroll
Member of the Board
Audubon of Florida
Vero Beach, FL

Ted Williams responds: Mr. Carroll is in the minority. I know several dozen veteran Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, and not one shares their former colleague's enthusiasm for a control program built around massive aerial applications of harsh, nonselective pesticides. I did not paint mosquito controllers with "one brush." Rather, I cited examples of where they have succeeded because they work with nature rather than attempting the impossible excision of a species. Nor did I offer personal judgment on Florida mosquito controllers. I merely reported the truth: They are killing all manner of nontarget organisms, including endangered shorebirds, and, despite pleas from the environmental community, they vow to keep using a poison so toxic to birds that it is registered as an avicide.


There were two incorrect phone numbers in the printed version of the September-October 2001 issue. The number for the Klamath Basin Audubon Society (page 23) should be 541-883-7671. And the number for Praxis (page 30) should be 616-673-2793.



© 2002  NASI

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