I'd like to address Nancy Lord's article, "Our Only Ocean" (July/August). I agree
that we are facing vast problems of overfishing and exploitation of our common
ocean resources. However, I find her comparison of the Mediterranean with her
home in Alaska very unfair. Ocean circulation in the Mediterranean does not carry
the nutrients needed for dense masses of phytoplankton, the base of the food
chain. Upwelling in the Pacific, on the other hand, brings nutrient-rich water to
the surface, allowing for some of the most productive fisheries in the world.
Alaska is definitely more pristine than the Mediterranean, but it is also
naturally more productive. Colleen Dunlevy
I've been diving since 1954 and have witnessed the decline in water quality and
reduction in fish stocks described in your July/August issue. But one "fact"
in "Just Beneath the Surface" by Glenn Vanstrum concerns me. He says that
black sea bass were common in the kelp beds off San Diego in the 1940s and '50s,
and quotes Mia Tegner, a researcher at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, as
in 20,000 dives in the past 27 years her group has not seen one. On my last
saying that free-diving trip off San Clemente Island, I saw three black sea bass in
To make sure that my experiences were not unusual, I asked members of a
one day. free-diving list to send me reports of recent sightings. In just four hours, I received eight reports of sightings from all over Southern California. Bill McIntyre
San Clemente, California
Editor's reply: Tegner's observation was about the Point Loma Kelp Forest, a
place we described perhaps too loosely as San Diego's "local kelp forest."
Tegner, too, has noticed that black sea bass numbers are starting to recover
along the Southern California coast, but they are still far below historic levels.
MOVING ONOR NOT?
When I saw "Moving On," Carl Pope's article in the July/August "Ways & Means"
section, I expected to read something about our ability to disagree
on issues, solve them in a democratic manner, and go on to other
important matters. I was very disappointed to find it to be a continuation
immigration debate. And Pope's comments continued to distort the
of the "pro-immigration-control" stand. His second sentence suggests we were
choosing whether to deal with population growth by "limiting immigration or
dealing with its root causes," as if we couldn't possibly do both. The pro-
immigration-control policy addressed root causes. It simply included immigration
control as one of the solutions.
I supported an immigration-control statement in the Sierra Club's policies. I
also know that many members were concerned that such a statement could split the
membership. Since the general vote, I've accepted the fact that the Club will not
take a stand. I can do that through other organizations I support. (The
Wilderness Society, for example, supports immigration limitations.) But now that
a decision has been made, I hope our leaders can move on and not risk a split by
continuously pointing out why immigration-control supporters were so terribly
wrong. Aubrey Arrington
Carl Pope replies: I did not intend to offend the 40 percent of the Club's voters
who supported taking a position on immigration. I wrote the column when it
appeared that there would be a great deal of media coverage of the results of the
election and that most Club members would learn of the result from the media,
which have not always done a very good job of presenting either side. So I felt
it was necessary to try to reiterate the Club's majority position. I clearly did
so in a way that offended some of the folks who took an active part in the
debate, and I'm sorry.
FREE TRADE ÜBER ALLES
I appreciated reading "All Hail the Multinationals!" ("Lay of the Land,"
July/August). As a veteran of World War II, I cannot help but wonder why so much
blood was expended to defeat national socialism, only to totally embrace it on a
global scale. Hitler's dream is coming true! John P. Cone Jr.
It is hard to identify the elderly, paunchy, grim, cigar-smoking man illustrated
in "All Hail the Multinationals!" with the leaders of our environmentally
unconcerned multinational corporations. In most of the photos I see, these
leaders are youngish, slim, friendly, rather handsome men who may possibly smoke
a fashionable cigar offbut certainly not oncamera. They don't look like
they would hurt a fly, or even think of doing so.
That's the trouble with most of the rest of us, too: we not only look like we
wouldn't harm the environment, we don't even think we do. Richard W. Duncan
I was glad to see Sierra address timber certification ("Hearth & Home," July/
August). However, I hope that in the future the topic is examined in depth. In
April of this year, two grassroots conservation organizations resigned from the
Forest Stewardship Council's working group in the Appalachian region. They had
numerous reasons for taking this step, including "a lack of basic assurances for
A host of certification questions need to be discussed, debated, and decided.
What is "good wood"? Are we to develop a blanket definition or do we tailor the
definition to specific bioregions? Do we focus on developing sustainable forestry
with small companies on a local level or do we include industrial foresters who
are looking to greenwash their image? Should sustainable forestry mimic natural
processes or just try to improve, here and there, on industrial forestry? Todd Barnell
Jamie Tarses' remarks in your July/August "Last Words" column are a laugh and a half:
"television helps drive...consumption" but (in some cases) "TV is actively supporting
a healthy environment....and it's up to us, the people who work within it,
to make sure it does more of the latter than the former."
Admirable sentiments, but impossible to actually follow through on. Tarses might
be Mother Teresa for all I know, but neither she nor anyone else will succeed in
this quixotic quest in the current legal and regulatory environment. Not because
TV is inherently evil, but because, as the clear-thinking Jeff Cohen explained, "The
airwaves, which are legally public property, have been surrendered
to a handful of conglomerates."
The FCC's charter makes it clear that the airwaves are owned by all the people,
and must be used for the public good. What that means, in practice, is that
wealth must not be, as it currently is, the exclusive measure of one's access to
the mass media. We need thorough reforms of the broadcast media in this country.
Citizens must not be ghettoized into only a few rarely seen public-access cable
Environmentalists cannot afford to remain on the sidelines of this problem of
democratic access to mass media. What chance do we have against industry, if its
billions of dollars entitle it to control our culture? Guy Berliner
San Diego, California
In our July/August "Oceans" issue, In "Just Beneath the Surface," we called algae
"plants," when in fact they are part of the "protist" kingdom, which also
includes protozoans, fungi, and bacteria.
Sierra welcomes letters from readers in response to recently published articles.
Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St.,
2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; fax (415) 977-5794;
or you can e-mail us at:email@example.com