The closing line (“The baiji thus receives the dubious posthumous award for being the first large aquatic mammal to be killed off by human activity”) in your recently published story on the baiji is incorrect.
Ever heard of the Steller’s sea cow?
New York, N.Y.
Editor’s note: This reader and others who wrote in to alert us of the same mistake are correct. The incorrect information came from the cited article in the Independent, and it has now been corrected on our site. We’re sorry we passed it on. How could we forget thee, ye olde Steller’s sea cow?
Re: Don’t Have a Cow
I think you may be confusing species of farm animals with breeds in your article. There is a big difference between a species and a breed. Different species cannot be bred with each other and still produce viable offspring. Different breeds of the same animal species can be bred with each other to produce viable offspring. The genetic diversity between species is very large compared to the genetic diversity between breeds of the same species.
This is not to say that losing breeds to extinction is of no concern — the central point of your piece — because it is. But it’s not comparable to losing an entire species.
Thought you’d appreciate the clarification.
Editor’s note: We did indeed confuse species and breeds in this news summary. Hopefully we haven’t bred resentment among our readers for our specious claim. It has since been corrected on our website.
The idea that eating less fish (or driving your car less) is the solution is actually the problem. We need to take revolutionary action and actually live our values. If we don’t get our butts out of cars and onto trains and bikes, the public transportation and bikeways will never happen. The same thing applies to eating fish. Fisheries are about to collapse because sea animals are viewed as a “resource” to be exploited. It’s the exploitation mind-set that must be eliminated — not modified to become “sustainable” exploitation.
“Conscientious meat-eater” is like “compassionate conservative.” Adding one word cannot override the enormous, devastating environmental consequences that are inherent to animal agriculture.
It requires far less discipline to simply remove all fish from your diet. What could be easier than simply ordering the vegan sushi?
Editor’s note: Umbra addresses this very issue in her latest column. Check it out.
An old column from December 2005 by Emily Gertz, “Naughty by Nature,” was just shared with me. I wanted to congratulate you for writing about the last huge industry to be held accountable in our cultural shift toward organic and sustainable products. As the owner and founder of Good Clean Love, it is continuously surprising that people have no idea what kinds of ingredients make up their intimacy products. We spend a lot of time educating our customers about the side effects of these products.
Thank you for providing real facts on a subject that needs more attention.
Umbra says in a recent column that it’s better to keep eco-incorrect clothing you already own than to throw them out and buy new eco-correct ones, and there’s definitely something to be said for that.
On the other hand, according to the Main Dish story “A Loom With a View,” the U.S. organic cotton industry needs all the support it can get. So I’d say that there’s a case to be made for buying organic-fiber clothing in addition to whatever you already have. And if you can donate the synthetic ones to a thrift shop or a program like Dress for Success, they won’t be wasted. Not everyone can afford it, of course, but for those who can, I don’t think the additional consumption is so harmful in this case.
New York, N.Y.
I am an avid Grist reader and enjoyed reading your holiday gift guide, since the commercialism of the holidays has always turned me off. I applaud the creativity and range of ideas featured, but you left a huge one out.
This year, instead of buying yet another thing that will gather dust or get taken back to a store, give the gift that keeps on giving, or shining. Give a pack of compact fluorescent light bulbs (cost: about $3 per bulb) with a fact sheet explaining the positive economic and environmental benefits of using them (average use would save the user approximately $30 per bulb over six to eight years). You could even give “bulb baskets” by placing a few CFLs and some botanical bulbs (tulips, gladiolas, daffodils, etc.) in small baskets from thrift shops with the tag line “Let these bulbs help you reduce your carbon impact!”
Jennifer Rennicks, Southeast Federal Coordinator
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Re: Do Not Giggle
You got this one a little wrong. Methane from livestock primarily comes from burping (the technical term is eructation), not from the other end.
Happy holidays! With all of the crap on the web nowadays, it’s a pleasure to have your email come in, as it is refreshing and intelligent.
I’ve been reading Grist for quite some time now and have found it enlightening as well as entertaining. I am based in Greece and, along with a few others, I have started blogging about environmental issues, seeing as we are living in a country that has not addressed such issues in the manner that they require. I cannot help but think how wonderful it would be to get a European version of Grist. Have you guys ever thought about setting something like that up? I’m sure there would be many people interested in contributing.
Keep up the great work.
Your notice about donations stumped me. I like reading Grist, but I object to donating on the grounds that Grist is so “Americentric,” if that’s a word. Could I just remind you all that everyone does not live in the U.S.A.?
I wanted to read about sustainable fish-eating, and there were web addresses outside the U.S., but the one for Australia had absolutely nothing useful on it. When I contacted the person in charge with my questions, she said something to the effect of “Yes, we do concentrate on the U.S.”
While there are news stories from around the world and I do like reading these, all of the “homegrown” advice, so to speak, is quite parochial. That may be all you are able to do given your location, but it does have a teeny weeny whiff of arrogance about it, and I am very frustrated about not being able to find out what I need to know.
Editor’s Note: We’ve received several letters in the past few weeks from foreign, or at least foreign-dwelling, friends pleading for a global Grist, or chastising us for the current lack of one. For now, our resources only allow for valiant, thorough, pun-laden coverage on a largely domestic scale. Speaking of those resources, and donations, and shameless self-promotion, you could help build up the Grist empire by donating to Grist. We’re just sayin’.