August 11, 2000
Mr. Manuel A. Esteban, President
California State University, Chico
400 West First Street
Chico, CA 95929
Professor Marti Wolf
Oil Contamination Experiments
Dear Mr. Esteban:
I am a supporter of education and an enthusiast of the sciences, especially as they relate to preserving our environment. I am also an advocate for animals and their safety. Recently I've become aware of the grant awarded to a member of your Biology Department, Professor Marti Wolf, by a South American oil company.
While I recognize that schools and scientists are frequently in need of funding for research and that much of what these funded scientists study contributes to society in a positive way, I am nonetheless dismayed to learn of Professor Wolf's proposed study. Within my own lifetime I can recall numerous oil spills involving the contamination of animals and their environments. I always assumed that studies would be and had been conducted following these unfortunate incidents on both the animals which could not be rescued or resuscitated and the natural environment surrounding the spill site to determine the effects on wildlife.
Having been presented with the opportunity to turn negative and tragic accidents (oil spills) into a positive learning experiences, I am shocked to find that artificially inflicting similar circumstances upon healthy ducks would be the preferred method of science. I certainly understand the scientific concept of controlled environments and the need within the scientific community for repetition in order to accept or reject a hypothesis; however, given that we have in our recent past repeated real world situations and events to study as a model, recreating the accidents in a laboratory environment is tragic to me. It seems a needless waste of resources and animal life and I must ask what could possibly be learned of value which cannot be learned from what has already occurred. Is there any question that petroleum in these quantities are harmful to animals and ducks? The bottom line is that this study would be just plain cruel.
I encourage you and Professor Wolf to rethink this study and consider teaching your university students a lesson in compassion rather than commerce. Further, I ask you both to consider what specifically the oil company has to gain from the research and how they might be utilizing Professor Wolf's findings to serve their own purposes. Wouldn't a much better study involve means and methods for preventing or managing oil spills to minimize the impact of them on the environment—both flora and fauna?
I thank you kindly for sparing me a moment of your time and for considering my arguments for the revision or rejection of this proposed study.