Bryan Bishop (bishopdo@pilot.msu.edu)
Wed, 12 Jun 1996 12:24:58 -0400

Before I espouse my thoughts on " a response to Tearing down the green", let
me introduce myself. I am currently a PhD candidate at Michigan State U. in
the entomology dept. and have a masters in botany. I am interested in
plant/insect interactions and mutualisms. Presently I'm studying the
effects/interactions of mound ants on honeydew producing aphids and scales
and their particular natural enemies.

I've been a follower of Christ since my jr year of high school, but during
my undergrad years (which lasted 6 years) I tried to walk my own path. I
rededicated my life to Christ almost 7 years ago. I am married and have one
child, another on the way (I hear the work increases geometrically ;-).

I just want to toss out a few comments on the response: 1) I would like to
know how Dr. Olson proposes to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a
rainforest (tropical or temperate) or of a praire or of a marsh etc. How
does one measure long term benefits? How does one mesure aesthetic
qualities? How do we measure the affects the loss of one or a few species
will have on an ecosystem, when we don't even understand how they are
interconected, if at all? Foresters have a very hard time conducting
cost-benefit analyses of forests, trying to determine whether to spend
resources to try and control a pest species that is impacting a forest, a
forest that won't be harvested until 40 years later. And they're primarily
interested in market value of the forest, much less effects on water sheds,
other plant/animal life, aesthetic qualities etc. I'm not knocking
cost-benefit analyses, there are times when they can and should be done, but
some situations are going to be difficult if not impossible to discern the
cost/benefit ratio.

2)Why bash Christians who are finally coming around and declaring that we
should be stewards of nature, not just users of nature? While the words
"cherish" and "nurture" may not be defined with specific concrete acts,
neither is the proposed "cost-benefit analysis". The "concrete acts" may be
different for different situations and people. The point is is that
evangelical Christians have recongnized a need to care for nature. We, as
Christians, should be at the forefront of caring the Lord's earth. "The
earth is the Lord's", put out by the Southern Baptist Convention is good
book on this topic.

3) I do agree with Dr. Olson about politics and the environment and getting
the facts. Unfortunately, the popular media does tend to go overboard about
environmental issues (as does some of the Christain press in the other
direction). I am not in my office so I don't have the reference, but the
relatively recent Newsweek article (about 2 months ago) on synthectic
hormone mimics in the environment and sperm reduction is a great example of
hypothesis presented as fact by the media. (Compare that article with the
New York Times Science edition on the same subject.) We are called to test
everything, both as Christians and as scientists. We should all not be
quick to jump on the bandwagon, but when the data comes in and begins
presenting a picture one way or the other, we should begin reconsidering our
positions in light of the evidence. (Hey its easy as 123 -- Not). When
dealing with complex ecosystems, sometimes (most) the data tend to be muddy,
then we ask do we err or the side of caution or not.

I look forward to more discussion on this topic and others (even I got tired
of the origins debate, hint hint).

In closing, I leave you with this thought from Black Elk Speaks. 'We did
not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.'

D. Bryan Bishop
Entomology Dept, Michigan State University
e-mail: bishopdo@pilot.msu.edu