delete this message!

Thu Mar 30 20:11:26 CST 1995

OK, I have received enough anonymous hate mail.  I think it is time to
limit this list to the subjects it was intended to deal with.  Economics
and Sociology both have other places for those interested.

The number of people unsubscribing seems to go up every time we get off
the subject.  There was a flurry during the non-Linnean fiasco, and one
now.  It may be the rather self-serving "my program is better than yours
because I have more obtuse reasoning" discussion, or the one on saving the
world.  Either way, it is enough!!  If you want to debate the merits of
your programs, do it with each other.  Let users defend, to do otherwise
is self-serving.

If you want to save the world, go do it.  Just don't clutter up this server.

All in favor, please send an "aye"

Now, to defend myself, and slip into a self-serving display of how I DO
care about human population growth and its impact on biodiversity, I append
an extract from my field notes.  Read it only if you have time on your

Mike Ivie


Thoughts from Madagascar, Michael A. Ivie, Copyrighted 1995.

Excerpted from field notes, 15 November 1994, Fort Dauphin,

So, this is the future of the world.  Sitting in a decaying
restaurant in Fort Dauphin, I can see where we are headed.  A
beautiful beach stretches before me, but walking on it shows it
to be 6 inches deep in oil-soaked, black sand.  On top, a mine
field of human feces, left by barefoot people living in shanties
without toilets or even outhouses.  Along the cliffs above the
coast, we ate a breakfast of rice and weed gruel, weak sweet
coffee, and vile little meat balls.  The "building" was boards
and tin over a dirt floor, with a piece of cloth for a door.  A
mass of kids in filthy clothes and runny noses hung on the
proprietress.  She joins the apparent majority of women in having
a baby at the teat.  Although we are staying in an nice hotel, it
shows the signs of being built during the colonial period, and
having declined ever since.

Out of town, the area once described as nature's garden, where
nature took a separate path, is now forests of sterile eucalypts
and degraded soils covered in thin crops of human foods.  It
takes hours to drive on 4X4 roads to reach any natural habitat,
and there we see dozens of lines of smoke that make us hurry to
collect specimens of what is left.  I expect the area we work to
be gone before we can return.

So this is where the world is headed - ugly, filthy, poor and
completely human-dominated.  What forests that may exist will be
eucalyptus and Monterey pine -- trees that will be rare only in
their native habitats!  These exotics have all the richness of a
corn field, but being simply human crops, this makes sense.  The
once beautiful and productive coasts will be oil and filth
strewn, unfit for any sense of enjoyment.  Seafood will be eaten,
out of necessity, but with every bite, the question of safety
must be ignored.  People, people everywhere.  And along with
them, their diseases, filth, domestic plants and animals, and
degraded environments.

In traveling across Madagascar, this sense of despair reoccurs
over and over.  In what was once, arguably, the most unique area
of the natural world, with an over-endowment of natures oddities,
we now find horrible destruction.  The few small parks and
reserves are still fantastic, but the rising population and
resulting fires around the edges of every one, do not bode well
for their long-term survival

I am a conservation biologist. By definition I am not allowed to
despair, and certainly not allowed to express it.  Yet, my
greatest urge after seeing these same scenes in Latin America,
Europe, and Africa, is to fly home to Montana, join the right
wing isolationists, close our borders to all immigrants, and make
sure we have enough guns to keep the rest of the world out.

I am supposed to have hope, to produce solutions, and to use
science to make sure the future is not so bleak.  Yet, I set in
Fort Dauphin and read in the local French language newspaper that
the Pope has issued another idiotic condemnation of birth
control, abortion, voluntary sterilization, and population
planning!  Across the street from our hotel is the largest and
most substantial building in town, a Catholic church!  There are
large Catholic churches all over this hell-hole, and the bastards
are making things worse daily.  The head-of-state of a country
without female citizens, totally lacking children, and peopled
exclusively by parasitic old men, is calling for the destruction
of the world!  And to my shame, my country maintains diplomatic
relations with the Pope's Vatican.

Unfortunately, shooting the ass hole won't do much good.  There
would just be another cut from the same cloth.  It is time for a
revolution among the educated Catholics of the world -- dump the
Vatican.  Likely?  Sorry, no.  My Malagasy colleague, who is a
wonderful, educated, interesting and intelligent fellow, is a
Catholic with 5 children and a high degree of respect for the
bozo in Rome.  I am afraid he is more representative than I want
to believe.

So what do I do?  We finish our drinks and samosas and head to
the field for a nights work.  Perhaps we will find a new patch of
unique forest that we can protect.  At least we will provide
ammunition for the continued preservation of the area where we
work.  Perhaps our spending in the villages will convince them
not to cut and burn as much forest this year.  Maybe, perhaps, at
least ...

We go on, because we must.  The alternative of retreating into
despair is just to much to accept.  If I can still find the
forest, if the animals still exist in them, there is hope.
Besides, I can live with myself as long as I am fighting.

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