w_fox at w_fox at
Tue Mar 12 14:08:41 EST 1996

	There is a lot of controversy surrounding the plight of the Northern
spotted owl.  But is preservation of old growth forests only about protecting
owls?  The owl is an indicator species for the overall ehalth of a forest.  It
is important to monitor its progress so that we can ensure that the forests are 
being managed sustainably and are able to provide for a variety of uses such as
timber harvesting, recreation, and species diversity.
	By conserving all species, we are ensuring that the world will 
continue to function in a manner we are familiar with and for which we are
adapted.  We will be in for no surprises.  If we choose not to conserve
species, we are entering an unknown realm.  We do not know how the earth will
react with fewer species of reptiles, birds, mammals, fishes.  How will basic
cycles be affected?  It could happen that life as we know it will engage in a
downward spiral and cease to exist.  Life could also go on and we could survive
relying on geneticists and chemists to recreate the natural things that we have
destroyed but still rely upon to persist as a species.
	We do not know what the future holds.  But one thing is for
certain...we do not have the luxury of making the wrong decision.  Right now we
do not have enough information to make an informed decision about conserving
biodiversity, so we should conserve it until we know what not conserving it
will mean to us and to our children and to their children.  This decision
cannot only be made for us.  It must be made for the generations of earth
inhabitants yet to come.  We will predetermine the ability of our progeny to
exist by the decisions we make now about biodiversity.  Once we start down the
path, we cannot afford to be wrong.  We must be prepared and know how the
world's processes will react to decreasing biodiversity.  What valuable drugss
will we lose whose absence will decrease what's left of our quality of life? 
What will the land look like and how will we adapt to its sterile homogeneity? 
Once we commit to proceed, we can have no regrets because there is not turning
back.  I we hope to survive as a species ourselves, we cannot flagrently
destroy what we do not understand.

W. Fox

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