Re “The Tick Apocalypse,” by Jimmy Tobias [Aug. 8/15]: Among recent advances in our understanding of Lyme disease, a 2021 work by Howard S. Ginsberg et al. in PLOS Biology established why the disease is so rare in the southern US, despite the occurrence of the appropriate tick vectors. In brief, these ticks show a strong preference for reptiles rather than mammals, and these reptiles are poor hosts for the Lyme bacterium. Indeed, the research points to the importance of studying animal ecology and supporting land use and management plans that promote reptile populations. As winter temperatures continue to rise with climate change, their numbers may grow in higher latitudes and lower the incidence of the disease.
Departments of Environmental Sciences and of Biology
University of Virginia
Pipelines to Plowshares
Two powerful streams of thought that challenge the necessity for violence in the struggle against climate change deserved more consideration in Thea Riofrancos’s otherwise helpful review of Andreas Malm’s book How to Blow Up a Pipeline [“A Burning Planet,” Aug. 8/15]. One is the moral case for the pacifism that Malm apparently dismisses, whose roots can include the Gospel, social justice, and the spiritual imagination. A direct challenge to Malm’s argument can be found in the creative (yet destructive of property) civil disobedience of Daniel and Philip Berrigan and their anti-war Plowshares movement allies.
The other case is the pragmatic one. In their study of campaigns for social change between 1900 and 2016, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan found that a commitment to nonviolence received higher levels of citizen support, generated opportunities for creative tactical shifts, and evoked less defensive responses from the ruling powers than their violent counterparts. The evidence of the strengths and successes of nonviolence refutes Malm’s too easy and, in my opinion, dangerous recommendation of violence as the method for combating climate change.
University of Illinois Chicago School of Law
The illustration by Lily Qian for the review of Vladimir Sorokin’s novel Their Four Hearts is magnificent [“Pure Negation,” Aug. 8/15]. Gorgeous and mysteriously compelling at first, it merits reexamination after reading Gregory Afinogenov’s informative article, at which point you realize that it simultaneously conveys the ideas and the emotive punch of Sorokin’s writings. Bravo, and more illustrations from this artist please.
In the Aug. 8/15 issue: “The Tick Apocalypse” incorrectly referred to ticks as insects. In “A Burning Planet,” the name of the Lummi Nation was misspelled. “Selective Empathy,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen, stated that Lt. William Calley was pardoned by Richard Nixon. Calley was not pardoned; after Nixon’s intervention on his behalf, he was paroled and spent much of the sentence under house arrest.