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  March/April 1999 Features:
Running With Bears
Thoreau's Dream
Canada's Forgotten Coast
Dream Parks
Inside Sierra
Ways & Means
Good Going
Hearth & Home
Lay of the Land
Sierra Club Bulletin
Last Words

Sierra Magazine


We were appalled by Carl Pope's "Reaching Beyond Ourselves" ("Ways & Means" November/December 1998). It is religion that keeps birth control from being taught and practiced, it is religion that says "God takes care of everything so we don't have to," it is religion that promotes greed, stupidity, selfishness, closed-mindedness, faith in the nonexistent over facts and science. For the Sierra Club to go crawling on its knees to these forces of darkness is obscene.
Guy and Victoria D. McCoy
Glen Haven, Colorado

The words population and growth do not appear either in "The Second Creation Story" or in Carl Pope's "Reaching Beyond Ourselves," which claims that environmentalists and religions are natural allies.

Human population growth is the root cause of every environmental problem and many of our economic and social ones as well. Yet no major religion is advocating an end to population growth. Au contraire, many of them-fundamentalist Christian, Mormon, Muslim, and especially Catholic-aggressively oppose birth control and push high birthrates.

Claiming that environmentalists and religions are allies in protecting the environment is only logical if you first make the illogical assumption that human population growth does not affect the environment. Obviously both popes, Carl and the one in the white beanie, have made that assumption.
Thomas P. McKenna
Montpelier, Vermont


Finally, a breath of fresh air! For too long I have been waiting for the words love and beauty to return to the secular and scientific approach to environmentalism- for without these words, where do you think the motivation will come from to inspire us to action? I loved every article in the "Religion and the Environment" issue (November/December 1998) and would like to see more on this topic. We know how bad things are. What we need is a way to be involved that lifts our spirits toward the common good. Together we create hope.
Jashana Kippert
Hana, Maui

We definitely need input from all the world's religions (especially our Native American) in addressing environmental problems. All religions have a heritage of stewardship for the environment, and the problems cross international borders. It is appropriate for the secular and the religious to join hands in the monumental task that faces us.
James R. Sauer
Wooster, Ohio

Thank you for exploring so well the connection between our desire to understand where we fit in the infinite universe and how we interact with the earth that is our home. I hope that you will continue to explore the connection between religion and ecology. The best and, in my mind, only hope for changing the pattern of events that is destroying so much life and beauty on Earth is for more people to appreciate the value of humility. Humility always precedes understanding and can only be safely maintained when one has a close relationship with the Great Creator.
Aaron R. Kelson
Spotsylvania, Virginia


You can read way too much into God's exhortation to Adam and Eve to "subdue" the earth and have "dominion" over nature. If I go on a trip and leave someone at my house, I may say, "You're in charge; do what you think best." That does not mean my caretaker is now free to trash my place, sell my furniture, destroy my yard and trees, kill my animals, and upon my return say, "You put me in charge." Those who treat their stewardship of God's world as a license to destroy it are blasphemers, not Christians, and the fact that they hide under the cloak of Christianity should not fool anyone. The world does not belong to us, and not only must we protect it, it is our duty to make it better.
George Macdonald
Bay Village, Ohio


I couldn't believe what I was reading in the November/December issue: the executive director of the Sierra Club apologizing to the religious community! Thank you. I had quit the Sierra Club a few years ago largely because I felt it was antagonistic to my beliefs as an evangelical Christian. Recently, I decided to give it another chance, and lo and behold, I find Carl Pope recognizing the need to include people of faith in the environmental movement.

Yes, largely due to cultural prejudices, many Christians have been guilty of ignoring our biblical mandate of creation stewardship. But with growing recognition of the breakneck pace at which we are losing our natural legacy, mainstream Christians are now putting stewardship into the forefront of our obligations. Thank you for reaching out to include us!
Kenneth Liu
Bethesda, Maryland

I object to Carl Pope's apology on environmentalists' behalf for ignoring religion all these years. In this country, as generally worldwide, religion has been one of the biggest causes of and justifications for anti-environmental behavior. Ignoring it was the most polite thing we could do under the circumstances. Now minority strains in the religious community are starting to inch their way toward a pro-environment stance. We should welcome this, but no apologies are in order.
Michael Cosgrove
Seattle, Washington


Thank you for featuring the new Utah wilderness inventory in your November/December issue ("Paradise Found"). Here in California, a recently formed statewide grassroots organization-Californians for Utah Wilderness-is devoted to securing passage of H.R. 1500 (America's Red Rock Wilderness Act). We invite the many Californians who love Utah to become involved. Membership is free. For more information, e-mail or write to CalUWild, 875 Clayton St., San Francisco, CA 94117.
Michael Painter
San Francisco, California


I was sickened to learn in "Coal Miner's Slaughter" ("Lay of the Land," November/December) that mountaintop mining has already eliminated 81 square miles of mountains and covered 460 miles of streams. These streams are important in bringing water to main rivers, which will become polluted as well if this mining continues. Besides the crimes committed against nature, neighborhoods are being disturbed by dust, noise, and blasting. This mistreatment must be stopped. West Virginia wildlife and tourism are much more valuable to the state in the long run than the short-term profits of coal mining.
Paul Votto
Newark, Delaware


We incorrectly defined the protist kingdom in-of all places-the "Letters" corrections section (November/December 1998). So we'll try again, this time relying on a live biologist, not an obsolescent encyclopedia. "Algae and protozoa are generally considered to be in the kingdom Protista, though there is some difference of opinion among biologists on this," says Dr. C. T. Oswald of Southern Oregon University. "Fungi are in a separate kingdom-Fungi-and bacteria are generally placed in two others-Archaea and Eubacteria."

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

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