gardening ethics? (was: Domestication of Poison Ivy)

Charles Delwiche delwiche at
Fri Nov 13 21:45:23 EST 1992

I for one would like to weigh in with those who feel this is an
interesting topic.  My own feeling is that any time one alters a
natural system one has a moral obligation to approach that alteration
in a responsible manner.  Unfortunately one person's great idea can be
another person's noxious weed.  I think we have to recognise that
mistakes will inevitably be made, and try to be forgiving of this, but
let's face it; there have been a lot of hare brained introductions,
from _Eucalyptus_ and pampas grass in California to _Opuntia_ and
cochineal bugs in Australia.  Some of these critters have caused
*serious* problems.  If a person introduces an organism to an
environment where did not previously occur, I think that person has a
moral responsibility for the effects of that introduction.  

I would also note (to play the devil's advocate) that the farming of
crops far from their native habitat has probably substantially
improved the overall standard of living for humans, both in terms of
crop yield and in terms of diversity of diet.  From what I understand,
many crops have their highest yields in areas away from their native
region.  Now, humans have caused a lot of problems around the world,
especially because there are so many of us, but I for one am glad that
high quality crops are available to as many of us as they are.

May I throw in a red herring?  The argument has often been made that
it has not been proven unsafe to continue pumping CO2 and other
greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere at the current rate.  Has it
been proven safe?  Isn't that where the burden of proof should lie?

Charles F. Delwiche			(812) 855-2549
Dept. of Biology, Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

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