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Earthquakes And The Human Spirit

March 20, 1994

We ought to feel helpless about earthquakes, since we know so little about them and have to deal with them partly on the basis of erroneous, incomplete or outdated information ("Living in the Red Zone," by Michael Ventura, Feb. 13). The human race has tended to take any new knowledge and run with it, past the limits of practicality: splitting the atom without considering nuclear waste; hybridizing seeds that wear out the soil while the native stocks face extinction.

What the recent earthquake should have validated in our thinking is that we always reach further than our current knowledge out of the hubris of human consciousness. Sometimes the results are beneficial, sometimes disastrous. But we'll always build beyond our limits in the joy and excitement of building, live to evaluate the results and, it is hoped, learn from them.

NANCY G. JENKINS

Whittier

It is hardly surprising to read that our freeways' landscape-maintenance costs may have exceeded those of earthquake retrofitting.

Caltrans has been remarkably progressive in recent years in its landscape design. However, it must be paying daily for its mistakes: choosing the wrong plants for medians, for example, and overwatering them into enormous vegetation that must be trimmed, chopped and mutilated.

As a landscape designer who, regrettably, has at times made wrong selections, I am waiting for major growers to introduce a greater selection of dwarf plants. Our increasingly smaller urban and residential planting areas require it.

MICHAEL KELLY

Cardiff

Ventura has put into words what we all feel about earthquakes. I read it over and over again, laughing out loud and feeling somewhat compensated for my frustration with the news media for having provided us with insufficient relevant and meaningful information.

CHRISTA COHEN

West Hills

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