I don’t have much information about people who visit this blog — mostly I just know that somebody came — but if they click on a specific story or on a “read more of this entry” link, then I know that. So I know that much of my modest traffic recently has been reading my recent entry about the Light Brown Apple Moth. In that entry (I suggest you read it before continuing with this one) I mention that I don’t trust either the pro-spraying or anti-spraying sides, since neither seems to be trying to present an objective view. I still feel that way, and I still don’t know how I feel about spraying; I’m inclined against it (it does seem potentially dangerous, and it seems unlikely to eliminate the moths) but I freely admit that my assessment, based on the few facts at my disposal, could be wrong. So I’ve been trying to find more information that I trust, that would allow me to weigh the potential damage from the moth against the potential damage from the anti-moth spraying. When I say “damage from the moth” I don’t just mean a dollar cost from agricultural losses, but also damage to the ecosystem at large; similarly, when I say “damage from the spraying” I don’t mean a dollar cost, I mean health impacts and ecosystem impacts.
I’m a long way from having answers to these, but I have turned up some reports that I think are trustworthy about one small aspect of the issue, which is the amount of agricultural damage in New Zealand caused by the moth. It’s worth pointing out that the experience in California would be different from New Zealand: there are different predators, different parasites, different climate zones, different agricultural mix, etc. I don’t know if the damage in California (or in the rest of the U.S., to which the moth will eventually spread) will be relatively better or worse than New Zealand, and I don’t think anyone else knows this either, so this is only a small part of the puzzle.