Bil Gilbert rightly debunks much of the current nonsense about "ecology," but I think he has gone too far. If man is a natural phenomenon, then not only the consequences of his acts arc natural, but his brain, thoughts and understanding of the world around him are also natural. If man chooses not to live in his own sewage, not to breed to a point of diminishing life quality, and not to wantonly destroy other life forms unceasingly, these choices are also natural. Since most objective observers would consider these products of thought to be beneficial, why are they wrong?
The answer is they are not. A microbe in a test tube has no power to stop its rampant multiplication. Man's mind shows him a better way, one which will enable him to survive where lesser species failed. We've heard the Malthusian argument before and are trying to avoid its consequences.
MICHAEL GELB, D.D.S.
Bil Gilbert's attempt to purify the concept of ecology has a permeating stench of laissez-faire philosophy that leads to a glorified status quo. It is a common American malady that results in an abrogation of responsibility. Leave well enough alone. Things will work out in the end. Forces of life and extinction will interact until a new equilibrium is reached.
The notion that "a kind of ultimate check. a biological Catch-22, built into the system" will preserve the biosphere is sheer folly. For what Mr. Gilbert refuses to consider is that man's activities affect every other species in a unique manner never displayed in prior evolutionary history. While dominant species in the past have defeated themselves, man, the new dominator, does not appear to be content with merely destroying himself. If he loses, everything else must lose.
Man controls not only the play-by-play, he also makes the rules. And that makes all the difference.
JOHN ADAM KARACZYNSKI
Bil Gilbert states: "Nature is what is. Man is: the combustion engine is: nuclear fission is; and all are as natural as the next phenomena." Ecology is only the dynamic system of interrelations of all these things. "Questions of ecological good and bad arc irrelevant.... Whatever the outcome, 50 or 0 billions, we can rest assured that there will still be ecology."
The above happens to be true. But just for an instant think of the difference between a world with 50 billion people and a world with less than a billion people. Think of the difference between a world with one-tenth as many animal species as now live, and a world with 10 times as many animal species as now live. The real danger which man faces is not extinction but mutation into a new species of carp. The ecological nihilism (I wonder how Bil feels about that word pair) proposed by Gilbert is an excellent first step toward such a mutation.
The "gene pool" would be in far better condition without the miasma created by the species Semantic Nitpicker (more commonly called Bil Gilbert). Since his writing is as dull as his reasoning is specious, main people will just skim his article and come away feeling it's O.K. to keep garbaging up the environment. Admittedly, ecology will survive. When the planet spins through space empty, desolate of human and animal life, bereft of flowering plants, covered over with a thick film of beer cans, gum wrappers and industrial waste, there will still be ecology and the Semantic Nitpicker may be the sole surviving species, but I doubt it.
New York City
HEROES AND HEROINES
The picture of Jim Jamieson at the Masters (Poa Jack Beats Himself, April 17) was great, as most of your pictures are. Apparently many thousands of golf buffs were introduced to Jamieson for the first time at Augusta, as I was. It is always a thrill to watch the pros—in person or on TV—and most of us fans find ourselves identifying with some of these men. Jim is easy to identify with. Those of us who try hard at mastering this game don't have the fancy equipment to work with that the top pros have: clubs, bags, clothes or even the body, as it were. Watching a guy like Jamieson with his mixed set of clubs, clothes that he insists he buys at shopping centers and a husky or chubby build like me and a few others I know suggests that maybe we, too, can hit the ball a little straighter and farther. At least we'd like to think so.
The big thing about Jim is his outward display of emotion when he makes a good or bad shot (he made few of the latter). Such demonstrations seem to be taboo among many of the established pros. Your photo of Big Jim captures much of his personality and character.
GEORGE B. MITCHELL