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Desert Diary
Culture/Parking Lot


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Some individuals seem to have a problem with time. Oh, not just those people who are always 15 minutes late for an appointment, but those that seem incapable of separating long-term from short-term processes. A recent letter to a magazine dealing in science for lay people, for example, railed against so-called environmental extremists who worried about extinctions predicted to be caused by man-made environmental climatic change, particularly global warming. After all, he pointed out, scientists think that evolution is fueled in part by such climatic changes. Thus other organisms waiting in the wings, so to speak, will evolve to take the place of those that become extinct.

All very fine, of course, except that such evolutionary replacement is expected to take immense amounts of time from a human standpoint. In the meantime, mankind will struggle in an increasingly depleted natural world with little consolation that biodiversity will increase again over the next several million years. Kind of reminds one of the student leaving a group of such citizens muttering, "Good grief—their ideal world is a parking lot!"
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.