Endangered Fish Scientifically Valuable, Too

The opinion-page article "Endangered Species Act Must Be Enforced for the Benefit of All" (April 21) discusses the United States Supreme Court's action in the conflict between water for endangered fish and water for agriculture in the Klamath Basin of Oregon and California.

The author writes about the cost of saving the species in dollars and jobs, but the value of the species is dismissed with derision by referring to it only as a "sucker fish."

The fishes of concern are scientifically important, sensitive indicators of water quality. To avoid discussion of their value and to promote their destruction by a cheap misrepresentation of their common name is not in the public interest.

The suggestion that the endangered species' list is based on opinion, assumptions, and faulty research is wrong. Thousands of hours of research on its ecology by some of the best fish biologists in Oregon and California deserves our appreciation.

Their work concludes that without adequate water quality and in-stream flow in the Klamath basin, a unique species will be lost from the earth. The author correctly urges that the interests of all water users be represented in environmental decisionmaking. But the value of indicator species with major ecosystem functions is not a factor to be dismissed lightly.

Gerald R. Smith

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Museum of Zoology

University of Michigan

Behind flood, a warning of warming

"In 500-Year Flood, Finer Things Surface" (April 28) reports on the good news as well as the bad about the Red River flood. Nevertheless, I was disappointed that no mention is made of the trend toward more severe and devastating weather than we've had since we started keeping good records.

We hear about international conferences on global warming and hope that the next one sets the stage for more definitive action. We breathe a sigh of relief because something may be done in the next 10 years. Nobody can accurately predict weather dynamics for the next decade, but we can make good estimates based on the last 10.

Major news media don't talk much about US responsibility for global warming. It's easier to talk of China's increasing use of energy from coal. Yet, we are the biggest users of carbon fuel, and we don't need to wait for an international conference to start corrective measures.

During the petroleum boycott in 1973-74, I bought my first 10-speed bike and commuted to work. I stuck with it until I retired in 1982. During that period, the US started making smaller cars and raising average miles per gallon.

But since '82 we've supported a trend toward lower-mileage four-wheel drives, larger vans, and trucks. No one talks about the affect this has on our balance of trade, much less global warming. The Monitor could make a great contribution by reminding us each day about choices that need to be made for the future of all.

Paul March


Good values aren't propaganda

I found the article "Is Environmental Education Just 'Green' Propaganda?" (April 4) interesting, but hardly balanced. It didn't give comparisons to the teaching of other, more traditional subjects.

Doesn't history have a slant toward wars (specifically US interests) in an effort to avoid them? Aren't children taught not to cheat in math and not to swear in English? Why should natural science values be any different?

Why is it "propaganda" when we teach children not to pollute, not to consume more than their share? These are community values just like honesty and integrity.

Do children lose their "childhood" by learning about wars and robberies? Why should learning about the rain forest be any different?

Gretchen Mehmel

Roosevelt, Minn.

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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