Lily Ruderman ("Letters," September/October 1996) was deeply offended to find a recipe for jerky stew in
Sierra. I happen to agree with her about the negative environmental and health impacts of current
practices in the beef industry, but I was troubled by the last sentence of her letter: "Please don't
compromise or contradict our beliefs by publishing such recipes."
Although it is human nature to feel threatened by ideas or beliefs that clash with our own, the impulse to
silence dissenting opinion must be resisted if we, as a global society and as individuals, are to learn to
coexist peacefully with each other and with nature's ecosystems on this planet. So please, Sierra, continue
to provide fertile ground for ideas to germinate and cross-pollinate. Who knows which ideas will lead to
novel solutions for some of our most grievous environmental problems?
Deana M. Crumbling, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Does Bill Clinton deserve (better yet, has he truly earned) the environmental vote (September/October)?
Probably not, but we must vote for him anyway. When I vote on November 5, it will not be for Bill
Clinton but in favor of clean water and air, a rollback of "logging without laws," and in support of all the
other natural resources worth protecting both for ourselves and for future generations.
Barry H. Haas, Little Rock, Arkansas
Giving unqualified support to the President is the only hope for preventing the widespread destruction
that would result with both a Republican Congress and White House. The sort of lukewarm approach
author Paul Rauber takes is yet another example of the type of single-issue political Calvinism that dooms
progressives to permanent marginalization. I urge the Sierra Club to stop killing the patient to save him
and to leave the litmus tests to the hard right.
Mary Hall, Savannah, Georgia
Author Paul Rauber dismisses third-party possibilities with a mere paragraph. The only mention of Ralph
Nader refers to his decision not to actively campaign as "perverse." Yet it is a campaign that is more about
the people working for it than about the individual whose name is at the top. Perhaps in 2000 or 2004, the
public will have a vehicle by which to set the political agenda rather than merely choosing from what two
corporate shills are willing to offer.
Larry Nargi, Seattle, Washington
FRIENDS OR FOES?
Ted Williams ("Natural Allies," September/October) says environmentalists and hunters have a common
cause, but where were our so-called allies the hunters when it came time to create a Mojave National
Park? Sending their dues to the National Rifle Association, which eventually got the area downgraded to a
preserve. The blasts of gunshot shattering the silence of wilderness are as offensive as the roar of dirt
bikes and snowmobiles. If I were to be fortunate enough to glimpse a grizzly, bighorn, or elk in the wild,
my last impulse would be to reach for a rifle, shoot it, and watch the blood run from its body. No matter
how politically correct you portray the mind of the hunter, killing for pleasure is sick.
Bob DeNike, Sunnyvale, California
Ted Williams' article was thought-provoking and encouraging. I just wish he had been completely
honest. He kills because he and other hunters enjoy it, not because they are doing the environment a
"necessary" favor. Let's remember why there are no predators left in most of the United States. Hunters
encouraged by greed (and at times our government) slaughtered all the wolves, bear, and cougar that
would have kept in balance any deer or elk population.
What would happen if there were no hunters? The truth is that wildlife doesn't need to be managed.
Animal populations would stabilize from resource competition. Some animals would starve to death. In
ensuing years, females would produce fewer offspring. Nature has a way of compensating, and it's done so
just fine up until the last two or three hundred years when the white man (European descent, privileged,
hunting for pleasure, not food) changed the ecosystem.
Lisanne Freese, Chicago, Illinois
I'd like to offer a little dull and respectable academia as oil for troubled waters, as provided by well-
respected Yale researcher Stephen R. Kellert. Dr. Kellert has long studied the nature of people's attitudes
toward animals. Among hunters, he identifies three main types. One is the "sport hunter," who is
motivated by the desire to dominate and overpower his prey. This is the type we love to hate. Another is
the "meat hunter," a pragmatic and dispassionate character who mostly wants meat for the pot. The third
is the "nature hunter," who wants to feel close to nature, to experience wildness, to observe closely, and to
participate in the great web of life.
The difference between me, a vegetarian, and this third type of hunter lies in our attitude toward food. The
difference is not trivial, but surely we can recognize the common thread, the shared passion for nature?
Can we meet for our common good? Nature lovers and the "nature hunters" have more in common than
Peg Ferm, Monroe, Washington
The lengthy justification for hunting by Ted Williams sounds like paranoia to us. Is he unable to cope
with anyone who dares to challenge his Neanderthal form of recreation? Are we to believe that hunters
engage in their killing "sport" because they see it as "a legitimate and necessary wildlife management
Tom and Gerry Easton, Port Huron, Michigan
I am one of this breed of hunters/fishers/environmentalists that has been thoroughly disheartened by the
polarized stances taken by various groups and individuals, disheartened that so many of us who have so
much in common have been split by the intensity of our own rhetoric and fear. It takes a good deal of
courage to put aside the shelter of our stereotypes and extend our hands to one another.
Stephen C. Hansen, Salt Lake City, Utah
Hooray! I just read your article about forging an alliance among hunters, fishermen, and
environmentalists. I am a recent Sierran, scared to death by the 104th Congress, but I am also a native
Alabamian, hunter, drag racer, and swamp rat. I gained my appreciation of the woods with a gun in my
hand while being taught to hunt by my father. I grew up in the woods, and learned to appreciate the
simple beauty of our planet watching many sunrises in duck blinds and deer stands. My "good-ol'-boy"
cousins and I are doing all we can to preserve our swamps. We have seen too much degradation to let it go
Hal Tippins, Mobile, Alabama
"Natural Allies" is the most enlightened, constructive, and farsighted report to appear in Sierra in
years. It ought to be reprinted in every environmental and sporting periodical in the country. Non-hunters
who are not willing to set aside, for a profoundly greater good, that sense of moral superiority that poisons
cooperation between "natural allies" reveal the stark truth that preserving the land is not their first
Clarence Anderson, Upper Jay, New York
In "The Uncertainty Principle" (September/October), Paul Rauber claims that "fewer than a dozen
scientists, many of them on the payroll of coal and energy companies, say not to worry" [about global
warming]. This would be a surprise to the nearly 100 climate scientists who have signed the Leipzig
Declaration, including scientists at Harvard, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, and Yale. This declaration
cautions against alarmism and premature policy initiatives, including binding emission-reduction limits.
Whether or not Rauber wishes to acknowledge it, a substantial number of climate experts question
whether global climate change is really the apocalyptic threat that some portend.
Jonathan Adler, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.
Rauber replies:Just who are Adler's eminent "climate scientists"? They include television
weathermen from Tampa and San Francisco; the operator of "Dick's Weather Service" in Springfield,
Ohio; ideologue S. Fred Singer (who hasn't published a peer-reviewed article in 25 years); a staffer from
the Electrical Power Research Institute, plus the usual industry-funded skeptics like Patrick Michaels and
Robert Balling. My point was not that such skeptics do not exist, but rather that they are, when pitted
against the vast majority of the world's climatologists, utterly insignificant.
I was disturbed by "Adios Amigos," the article about floating the Owyhee River (September/October). It
seems to me that you should only publish adventure articles that encourage wise and responsible conduct.
The first rule a paddler learns is never go on a river that is flooding. To go on a river that is not only
flooding but still rising is simply stupid. The author gives only the slightest nod to possible poor
judgment. The article's romantic and sprightly gloss encourages others to place themselves in a grave
W. R. Scott, Memphis, Tennessee
I enjoyed Page Stegner's fine piece of journalism on his flood-stage trip down the lower Owyhee. I had a
similar adventure a decade ago. A little short on experience, a raging spring flood, and a flip. The Owyhee
is truly a special and beautiful river--one that needs our vigilance to protect it from those who would spoil
this corner of paradise.
Dave Neumann, Genesee, Idaho
Douglas Gantenbein, Jim Yuskavitch, and Page Stegner each made points about our public lands in the
September/October issue to which I would add a couple of questions. Why are our public lands used as
cow toilets and strip mines for the personal economic benefit of the tiniest possible number of uncaring
people? Why are native plants and animals vilified while destructive invaders (cattle, sheep, countless
plant species) are deified? Why can't the Sierra Club and other environmental groups convince the
American people that their heritage is being pissed away? Perhaps dirt-cheap hamburger stands are at the
top of the national agenda.
Patrick Fitzgerald, Santa Rosa, California
WE HAVE MET THE THUG
To the individual who elected the Pope as the eco-thug of the year ("Last Words," September/October):
perhaps if we weren't such a materialistic and consumptive society, overpopulation wouldn't be such a
serious environmental issue. Instead of pointing fingers at spiritual men like the Pope, we should look to
ourselves, for we all probably have a bit of eco-thug in us.
Donna L. Higuera, Maquoketa, Iowa
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