Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NOW, I've got something to write about...

There I was quietly eating my late mid-morning snack when I happened upon this editorial in our local paper. It nearly made me spill my coffee and we all know what a grievous crime that is.
Here is the original article in its entirety (thankfully, a small piece)

Of Births and Butterflies

I read that Japan's population, about 125 million, may be falling, ahead of previous projections that the decline would start in 2007. The estimate of the average number of children a Japanese woman has in her lifetime has slipped to a record low of 1.29. The high cost of education, among other things, is cited.

Unless Third World immigrants' fertility stays surprisingly high, similar declines will probably appear in other developed countries: In general, the fertility rate of people who move to developed nations from the Third World gradually falls toward the native's rate.

While this will affect pension and medical costs, and pose other challenges, world-population stabilization and even decline would generally be very good indeed. The earth cannot forever take the ravages of consumerism and a surging population; how many of us can move to Mars to free up space on this old orb?

Heavily armed Mexican park rangers are trying to keep ruthless loggers from destroying the winter nesting grounds of millions of beautiful monarch butterflies that migrate from Canada. There are few such forests that do not face destruc­tion because of insatiable demands for more and more building materials and other commodities, as both our numbers and our individual demands for natural and manmade stuff swell.

The news from Japan holds out some hope that there might be a future for the monarch butterfly.

-Robert Whitcomb, Vice President and Editorial Pages Editor

The Sunday Providence Journal

December 18, 2005

My first response was "What kind of crack induced, lunk headed editorial is this?!?"
My more appropriate response is this:

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Robert Whitcomb’s editorial in this Sunday’s Providence Journal. I had to read the article twice to make sure he was serious and not being tongue in cheek.

I am quite honestly shocked by some of Mr. Whitcomb’s statements. He states, “The earth cannot forever take the ravages of consumerism and a surging population;” Consumerism and its subsequent damage to the earth is a function of behavior and not quantity. Blaming the “ravages of consumerism” on overpopulation is like saying the problem of bad Rhode Island drivers would be alleviated if there were less of them. So which Rhode Islander would Mr. Whitcomb vote off the “island”? We are bad drivers because we are lazy and inconsiderate of others, not because there are too many of us. If the issue were amount of people, our small state would not be so notorious for its poor drivers.

I would also add that regardless of your belief system, one must question who will destroy whom first. After the tsunami of last Christmas, the hurricanes of this year, and other natural disasters, I tend to believe that the earth can fend for herself if provoked.

Mr. Whitcomb mentions “Heavily armed Mexican park rangers are trying to keep ruthless loggers from destroying the winter nesting grounds of millions of beautiful monarch butterflies that migrate from Canada.” Are there ruthless loggers because there are too many people on the planet or because their parents did not teach them to behave? Are they destroying the butterfly habitat because there are too many people on the earth or because they haven’t been educated on the environmental impact of their behavior? Again, the issue here is behavior and not one of quantity of people.

I might also point out the second, third, fourth (and I could go on) children of their families who have created new building materials, found ways to more efficiently use materials that we have, and have found new and ingenious uses for naturally occurring, renewable resources. Not to be sophomoric, but what has the butterfly done? The children born today are more likely to find a way to protect that butterfly habitat that the butterfly will be able to resolve our pollution issues.

However, it is Mr. Whitcomb’s last sentence that truly held me aghast. He states, “The news from Japan holds out some hope that there might be a future for the monarch butterfly.” Are the Japanese to look at their forthcoming social and economic difficulties and say “Well, suffer we must but at least we can be a role model for the Mexicans so the butterflies will have their winter home” I agree that the monarch butterflies are beautiful, majestic and deserve to be preserved, but at the cost of the economic and social well being of nations?

Children used to be evidence of one’s wealth. There was a time when we did not count ourselves blessed because we had a large house and X-Box 360, but because our holiday table overflowed with our children and their children. Children were valued in Japan to the point that there were holidays created to honor them. Even today, they are brought to the temples during their childhood so their parents can thank the gods for them. They are the parents’ source of comfort and security in the final stages of their lives and now Mr. Whitcomb says that the lack of children in Japan provides hope? Is he serious?

Sincerely,

Dawn G. Kerr

2 comments:

Gail said...

You go girlfriend!!! - I dare you to actually send it in to the projo. :) -G

C, C, N & E said...

Man, its good to hear your wisdom.