Me, the Tribune and carp


Dead fish float at the surface at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal during the Asian Carp Rapid Response Project to prevent carp from entering Lake Michigan. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources launched an unprecedented fish kill by dumping gallons of the toxin rotenone into the canal. (Tribune photo by William DeShazer / December 3, 2009)

Wow, turns out that I’m not alone. When I published a column suggesting that we take a deep breathe and think before we shut down the major shipping lane from the Great Lakes to the MIssissippi to fight migrating Asian carp, the nasty mail arrived.

“You’re a moron.””How typical of Byrne, putting commercial interest above environmental concerns. It it doesn’t turn a profit it isn’t worth worrying about?” “This guy takes the Ronald Regan Profit At Cost Award.” “Leave it to Byrne, a founding member of the flat earth society, to ignore science in favor of what his tiny brain can conjur up from his rocking chair.” “Byrne forgot to add to his list that there was no Holocaust, man never walked on the moon, and oh yes, the biggest scientific fraud of all – the earth is round.” “Dennis Byrne is a tool.”

And so on, from the left’s own versions of Rush Limbaugh.

Of course, not all response were this nutty. Some had reasonable objections. (One is from Henry Henderson, a long-time and intelligent environmental activist, here.) But all I suggested was a close look at the science and economics of the idea. An socio-economic impact statement, as it were. Exactly the same kind of thing that the Environmental Protection Agency requires for federally funded projects. The kind of cost-benefit analysis that should be a part of any public policy decision. 

I didn’t say that the carp weren’t a threat; only that we should get our facts straight, and come to a more complete understanding of a complex issue. Such a rational approach apparently offends those who debate by emotion alone.

So, it was nice that amid the cacophony the Chicago Tribune also argues against the head-long rush into the unknown. The editorial, “Man bites fish” is here.

Now, let reasoned debate begin.


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  • Maybe if the people downstate would start eating the asian carp they could be part of the solution.

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