The Resurrection of Commercial Whaling?

Regarding the opinion piece "Pandora's Whale" (Oct. 15), the author's worries about the unraveling of the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling are absolutely spot on. The group for which I work, the UK-based Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has just come across information concerning the construction of a 1.7 ($2.89) billion whaling vessel, the Yu-shin-maru.

The manufacturer of the vessel, Kyodo Senpaku, stated to the Japanese press that it sees the vessel - due to start its whaling duties in November - as a "symbol of restarting commercial whaling." It is intriguing that the Japanese make such a large investment in their whaling industry at a time of economic recession. The only possible reason for such an investment is their belief that large-scale commercial whaling is about to reopen.

The consistent failure of the US to take strong action against Japanese and Norwegian whaling, coupled with the Makah whale hunt that has weakened the US position at the IWC, should be held directly responsible for this new Japanese whaling venture.

Kate O'Connell

Bath, England

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

How a forest works

The article "Facing Burning Forests, Russia Can't Afford a Bucket" (Oct. 15) concerned the loss of a lot of Russia's forests to fires. Unfortunately, it contained misleading information about how forests work.

Forests aren't "lungs," creating more oxygen than they can use, unless their growth exceeds their mortality. Forests with a predominance of mature trees are, at best, a wash in the creation of oxygen. Russia's mature trees have slowed growth, and they have a high level of dead and decaying trees that frequently use up oxygen as fast as the living trees that create it. While the original condition of the burned Russian forests wasn't stated, such seasoned forests are much more susceptible to fires than younger growth forests are.

To create most oxygen, you use many of the mature trees in a forest, sequester the wood in homes or other wood products, and you encourage new tree growth that is the most efficient photosynthesis factory. In most cases, such forests are better for wildlife as they create more food and habitat. When writing about forestry, it is better to get more of your information from foresters who practice the science, and less from greens who want to control the practice and confuse aesthetic pursuits with real science.

Y. Leon Favreau

Shelburne, N.H.

Multiple Use Association

A 'homosexual lifestyle?'

In reference to the opinion piece by columnist John Hughes "Matthew Shephard's Legacy" (Oct. 21), it states that if the gay and lesbian community seeks to persuade Americans from toleration to endorsement of "the homosexual lifestyle" it will pose a severe moral dilemma for American society. I often wonder if one of the leading causes of that "dilemma" is the confusion with promiscuity. I believe that this is the result of ignorance.

I don't think anyone in the gay community believes that the passing of a federal hate-crime bill would completely eliminate the tragedy of such attacks; but it could reverse hurtful rhetoric. Wouldn't it establish that gay people are citizens who have the same rights to protection from savage attacks?

Stephen Loher


The irony of Pinochet's arrest

Regarding "Pinochet Arrest Poses Thorny Dilemma for Britain" (Oct 21), I found the irony interesting and obvious: arrest by authorities when least suspected. That is where the irony ends. [Pinochet] at least can be sure that he will be given the due process that he himself denied to thousands of others.

Daniel W. Dickover


The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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