CREDIT: TIM FARRELL
Will Direct Payments Help Biodiversity? IN THEIR POLICY FORUM “DIRECT PAYMENTS to conserve biodiversity” (29 Nov., p. 1718), P. J. Ferraro and A. Kiss argue for more direct payments to conserve biodiversity instead of indirect interventions that are coupled to social-economic projects at the level of the rural community, because “such initiatives rarely work.” The authors admit that there are many disadvantages to direct payments, e.g., inequitable land tenure, poor legislation, and possible misuse; however, such obstacles would also apply to indirect methods. They state, “the cheapest way to get something you want is to pay for what you want” (p. 1719). Indeed, indirect social-economic interventions are not cheap and may not lead to clearly quantifiable conservation results. However, cost-efficiency is not the only consideration in conserving biodiversity. Duration is another important criterion. Direct payments are probably very effective in the short term; the authors present many examples. But, when the payment stops, continuation of conservation is uncertain because the external motivation has been taken away, or to put it more simply, “no pay, no care.” The loss of biodiversity is an irreversible process; direct payments may therefore only be successful if they pave the way for durable conservation practices. Otherwise, direct payments may be a waste of money because a long-lasting continuation of costly measures for the protection of collective goods as biodiversity or nature is not guaranteed in a world that is primarily driven by economic rules. In addition, direct payments stress a vision of nature where countable, measurable, and monetary aspects dominate. There is nothing wrong with such a quantification of nature if we realize its shortcoming: Monetarization of nature may imply that nonnature alternatives that deliver the same service can be substituted for nature. In contrast, ethical, aesthetic, and spiritual motives for nature conserva-
tion (1) often imply the irreplaceability of nature. It is important to base valuation and conservation of nature on such robust motives that resist temporary, threatening trends. Debate and education are therefore important indirect tools (2). We may conclude that conservation should be rooted in the life and mind of involved people to be successful in the long run. The view of Ferraro and Kiss matters, but we should look at direct payments as part of a wider perspective. For example, direct payment can function as a start-up method for more sustainable, locally embedded approaches or should be applied when direct, short-term intervention is needed because of a threatening catastrophe. Unfortunately, this latter situation seems often to be the case. JAC. A. A. SWART Section of Science and Society, Department of Biology, Groningen University, Kerklaan 30, 9751 NN Haren, Netherlands. E-mail: [email protected]
References 1. J. A. A. Swart, H. J. van der Windt, J. Keulartz, Restor. Ecol. 9, 230 (2001). 2. D. W. Orr, Conserv. Biol. 16, 1457 (2002).
Response SWART SUGGESTS THAT DIRECT PAYMENTS ARE useful as a stop-gap measure when there is a need to change peoples’ behavior radically and urgently but that, on the whole, we should rely on “sustainable, locally embedded approaches” to achieve conservation on a long-term basis. The appeal of selffinancing conservation activities, which require outside investment only for a short time and then continue on their own steam to yield conservation and development benefits indefinitely, is obvious. Unfortunately, evidence of their existence is difficult to find. In some cases, the expected demand for the outputs fails to materialize; in other cases, demand becomes so great that it triggers nonsustainable exploitation or attracts competitors who can produce at lower cost by ignoring the conservation objectives. If the enterprises fail, the conservation link disappears (if there was one to begin with). In short, the “no pay, no care” dilemma is very real, but it applies to any conservation intervention. Biodiversity conservation is a public good, and, thus, one way or another, it must be subsidized because individuals will not voluntarily bear its cost on behalf of society at large. We believe that it makes practical and economic sense to subsidize conservation directly rather than indirectly. Swart argues that direct payments
emphasize a vision of nature in which countable, measurable, and monetary aspects of nature dominate and that one should instead choose an approach that emphasizes the ethical, aesthetic, and spiritual motives for conservation. On the contrary, although direct payments may be in cash (or in kind), the motivations of those who provide payments are usually ethical, aesthetic, or spiritual. These motivations have certainly been strengthened by debate and education. We do not doubt that people who deplete biodiversity also have ethical, aesthetic, and spiritual values for nature. Biodiversity continues to be destroyed, however, because these noneconomic values have not been sufficiently robust to overcome economic forces. Debate and education cannot make these forces disappear. It is essential to counterbalance them by making it economically attractive (and feasible) for people to protect biodiversity instead of destroying it. Swart’s argument that the use of payments would make nature a commodity like any other traded good or service misses the point that biodiversity is already a heavily traded commodity. It is an essential input into a variety of production activities such as fishing, logging, hunting, and agriculture. Unfortunately, local users can reap far greater economic rewards from depleting biodiversity than from conserving it. Biodiversity is being depleted for want of a better offer; payments will help rectify this problem. We wholeheartedly agree with Swart that “conservation should be rooted in the life and mind of involved people to be successful in the long run.” However, we believe that such rooting is established through tangible incentives, not through wishful thinking that poor people in lowincome nations will make substantial sacri-
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Letters to the Editor Letters (~300 words) discuss material published in Science in the previous 6 months or issues of general interest. They can be submitted by e-mail ([email protected]
), the Web (www.letter2science.org), or regular mail (1200 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA). Letters are not acknowledged upon receipt, nor are authors generally consulted before publication. Whether published in full or in part, letters are subject to editing for clarity and space.
fices in the short term for uncertain future rewards or for the benefit of the global community. Although direct payments are no “silver bullet,” they provide tangible incentives that can be flexibly and costefficiently linked to the protection of biodiversity in low-income nations. Given the lack of alternatives, we believe that direct payments for biodiversity conservation
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LETTERS offer the best and most effective use of limited global conservation funds. PAUL J. FERRARO1 AND AGNES KISS2 of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303–3084, USA. 2Environmental and Social Development Unit, The World Bank, Washington, DC 20433, USA. 1Department
A LONG-STANDING FEATURE OF THE PREcommencement investiture ceremony for doctoral graduates at West Virginia University occurs when M.D. candidates take the Oath of Hippocrates, a traditional ethical affirmation for physicians. When Ph.D. candidates in the medical sciences joined M.D. honorees at this same School of Medicine Investiture Ceremony several years ago, we wondered whether a similar pledge or statement of ethical intent is available and/or in use in academic or other recognition ceremonies for scientists. Discussions of how to incorporate ethical considerations into scientific education and experience are on the rise (1). As early as 1984, J. Howard launched a call for some type of statement of principle by new scientists (2), but there seem to have been few responses. The pledge developed by the group Student Pugwash USA (3, 4) is reasonably well known, but is typically adopted informally by signatories after they learn of its existence and intent. A very brief “Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility” was introduced at Humbolt State University in 1987 (5), and its use has spread to several dozen other colleges and universities, including Earlham College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Kansas, but it is not science focused and is not formally part of a graduation ceremony. A formal pledge has been used at the University of Paris (6). Although the pledges cited above address some of the issues that we feel are important, none treats personal ethical behavior in science in the manner that we envisioned. We, therefore, wrote the following new “Oath for Scientists” for use by our students at graduation: “As I embark on my career as a biomedical scientist, I willingly pledge that I will represent my scientific profession honorably, that I will conduct my research and my professional life in a manner that is always above reproach, and that I will seek to incorporate the body of ethics and moral principles that constitute scientific integrity into all that I do. “I will strive always to ensure that the results of my research and other scientific activities ultimately benefit humanity and that they cause no harm.
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An Ethical Affirmation for Scientists
“With this affirmation, I pledge to acknowledge and honor the contributions of scientists who have preceded me, to seek truth and the advancement of knowledge in all my work, and to become a worthy role model deserving of respect by those who follow me.” We believe that this statement fairly represents what scientists should strive for throughout their career. It recognizes the importance of often-neglected past events that have created and shaped the scientific disciplines that new graduates are entering, and it calls the individual graduate’s attention to his or her obligations to advance scientific knowledge responsibly and to leave a worthwhile legacy for those who follow. The first use of this affirmation occurred when graduating Ph.D. students were joined in reading it by Ph.D. faculty participating in the West Virginia University School of Medicine Investiture ceremony on 18 May 2002. It provided a meaningful addition to the event and was well received by participants. In view of increased recognition of the ethical demands on our current science graduates, we offer this affirmation for use by any school, group, or society that might wish to use it, and as a model for any group that is considering authoring a similar document unique to their academic circumstances. CHARLES R. CRAIG, ANNE CATHER, JAMES CULBERSON West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
References M. J. Zigmond, Sci. Eng. Ethics 8, 229 (2002). J. Howard, Nature 312, 96 (1984). J. A. Rotblat, Science 286, 1475 (1999). See www.umich.edu/~pugwash/Pledge.html. See www.peace.ca/graduationpledge.htm. L. Degos, Hematol. J. 1, 145 (2000).
Blood Vessels Casting a Shadow THE REMARKABLE RESULT BY D. L.ADAMS AND J. C. Horton (“Shadows cast by retinal blood vessels mapped in primary visual cortex,” Research Article, 18 Oct., p. 572) has surprising implications that have gone unnoticed. Although it is true that small retinal blood vessels cast a fixed shadow (penumbra) on the underlying photoreceptor layer, there is serious doubt that the structural effects revealed in primary visual cortex “arise because a few photoreceptors are condemned to a life of idleness…” (p. 576). As the authors show (in their Fig. 6), there would indeed be a threefold reduction of the photoreceptors’ illumination. But the local retinal sensitivity control mechanisms would easily compensate for it because they operate over many decades of ambient illumination levels (1). Readers may readily www.sciencemag.org
verify the effectiveness of the compensation by putting a neutral filter of density 0.5 before one eye. Through that eye, ordinary natural scenes look a little dimmer, but the perceived details remain quite visible. The responding photoreceptors are hardly “idle.” Nevertheless, reducing the ambient illumination has a more subtle effect: Signals from the retina are delayed (2, 3). The best information about ganglion cell latencies is available from the cat (3). A threefold reduction of illumination would increase a typical visual latency of, say, 40 ms by about 5 ms. Although this difference seems small [comparable to trial-to-trial variation of latency (4)], it may well be significant. Structural remodeling is slow and therefore sensitive to long-term average differences in timing of impulse trains. In support of this notion is the observation (5) that rearing a kitten with a neutral filter before one eye shifts the distribution of optimal interocular time differences of binocular cortical neurones so as to compensate for the filter-induced delay. The surprise of the current result is the potency of the small time difference and the narrow cortical range over which it is effective. W. R. LEVICK School of Psychology, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. E-mail: [email protected]
References 1. H. B. Barlow,W. R. Levick, J. Physiol. London 200, 1, (1969). 2. W. R. Levick, J. L. Zacks, J. Physiol. London 206, 677 (1970). 3. B. G. Cleland, C. Enroth-Cugell, J. Physiol. London 206, 73 (1970). 4. W. R. Levick, Vision Res. 13, 837 (1973). 5. J. G. Gardner, in Developmental Neurobiology of Vision, R. D. Freeman, Ed. (Plenum, New York, 1979), p. 235.
Response LEVICK RAISES AN INTRIGUING POSSIBILITY that we had not previously considered. He suggests that in some instances, the remodeling of geniculocortical afferents that leads to a representation of the retinal vasculature in primary visual cortex may be caused by a temporal asynchrony between signals from the two retinas. We agree that it is surprising that only partial (penumbra) shadows cast on photoreceptors are sufficient to cause remodeling, for exactly the reason stated by Levick. However, it is just as unlikely that a temporal shift alone could cause the remodeling, because raising animals with a 0.5 neutral density filter before one eye has little effect on the ocular dominance histogram (1) and is therefore unlikely to cause amblyopia (lazy eye). A powerful means of inducing amblyopia is the misalignment of the optical axes that occurs in squint. Here, we find a link to Levick’s hypothesis: If the signals from locally shadowed regions of the retina are VOL 299
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temporally asynchronous, then during normal dynamic vision, they will also be spatially disparate. This spatial disparity generates the depth illusion in the Pulfrict effect. If the disparity is restricted to small regions of the retina (a few cones wide), then it will generate regions of visual field with no corresponding stimulus in the other eye. It is conceivable that this local misalignment of binocular visual could contribute to the remodeling we observed. DANIEL L. ADAMS AND JONATHAN C. HORTON Beckman Vision Center, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143–0370, USA. Reference 1. J. G. Gardner, in Developmental Neurobiology of Vision, R. D. Freeman, Ed. (Plenum, New York, 1979), pp. 235–246.
CREDIT: PUBLIC HEALTH IMAGE LIBRARY/CDC
A Lack of Experience with Microbes? HAVING READ DAVID MALAKOFF’S ARTICLE “Plague of lies lands Texas scientist in jail” (News of the Week, 24 Jan., p. 489), about a scientist under arrest for allegedly lying to authorities about his handling of plague bacteria, I would like to express my concern over the fuss made by the United States about pathogenic microbes and, in particular, their handling by scientists. A result of this mass hysteria is that a whole generation of American physicians are being educated without (Clockwise from left) Yersina any actual ex- pestis (plague) bacteria, a micrograph of histological changes in human skin infected with smallpox, and Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) bacteria.
perience in handling materials from infectious diseases. Most faculty in U.S. medical schools no longer have experience working with infected materials, and most medical schools no longer give laboratory exercises in infectious diseases to medical students. How do we expect physicians to handle cases of infectious diseases if bioterror attacks occur? It is like trying to train obstetricians without giving the students actual experience in delivering babies. I suggest that it should be mandatory for all medical students to handle materials from cases of smallpox, anthrax, plague, and other infectious diseases likely to be used in bioterrorist attacks. This type of training can be given to students in laboratory exercises in medical school, and faculty members should be encouraged to work with these infectious diseases. PINGHUI V. LIU 533 NE Wavecrest Court, Boca Raton, FL 33432, USA. E-mail: [email protected]
A Medical Compound Derived from Herbs THE “MINIMAL TRACK RECORD” OF MEDICINAL compounds derived from Chinese herbal remedies reported in D. Normile’s News Focus article “The new face of traditional Chinese medicine” (10 Jan., p. 188) can be augmented by one used in veterinary medicine, namely, halofuginone. A halogenated derivative of febrifugine, an alkaloid isolated from the ancient Chinese antimalarial herb Chang Shan, halofuginone was synthesized by American Cyanamid chemists (1). It has been sold for many years by Roussel-Uclaf and successor companies for use in poultry against coccidiosis, a parasitic disease closely related to malaria. A search of the Internet reveals that it is currently being investigated for use in humans, including use as a possible anticancer drug (2). GERALD BERKELHAMMER 58 Allison Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA. References 1. E. Waletzky, G. Berkelhammer, S. Kantor, U.S. Patent 3,320,124 (1967). 2. See www.uicc.org/publ/pr/home/01112801.shtml and www.menshealthforum.org.uk/newsandevents/ halo.htm.
CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS News of the Week: “Recipe for rocket-free space travel: dive in and paddle, patiently” by C. Seife (28 Feb., p. 1295). In the penultimate paragraph, the second sentence should read “A meter-sized object gyrating in a spacetime as curved as the spacetime near the surface of Earth could make headway of only about 10−23 meters per contortion.” Additionally, the credit for the image should be J. Wisdom alone, rather than J. Wisdom et al.
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