Brief Profiles: Gretchen Wyler, B.F. Skinner, and Others

They're better known for their respective careers in entertainment and psychology, but Gretchen Wyler also advanced the caused of vegetarianism and B.F. Skinner hoped to advance the cause of resource conservation.
By Joan Polsky Vidal
January/February 1983
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Noted psychologist B.F. Skinner believed natural selection wouldn't work fast enough to create people who would conserve natural resources by inclination.
Illustration by Fotolia/adrenalinapura

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Speaking last August at the Washington, D.C. American Psychological Association Convention, renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner stated, "Natural selection is too slow ... we do not have time to breed people who will reproduce at a more moderate rate, use less of the resources of the world, contribute less to pollution, and so on .... Our only hope is to change the behavior of those, mainly in government, religion, or industry and trade, who control the contingencies under which we live."

Broadway and television star Gretchen Wyler was presented with the Vegetarian Information Service's 1982 Vegetarian Ethic Award at San Francisco's Action for Life conference (a consortium of more than 20 vegetarian and animals' rights organizations, whose objectives include the promotion of meatless diets and the abolition of animal abuse). Ms. Wyler received the honor in recognition of her work in advancing the vegetarian philosophy.

Russell P. Leslie — adjunct professor of architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York — has established a program at the Jefferson and Mariaville Elementary Schools that involves students in a hands-on learning experience that focuses on solar design and construction. After being guided through a number of introductory projects, the children completed their studies for the 1981-1982 school year by designing and building a full-sized greenhouse at each of the two schools.

Dick Geib — the owner of a 100-foot windplant in Jeromesville, Ohio — calculates that during its first nine months of operation, his powerhouse generated about 5,000 kilowatt hours of energy valued at $400. Though the structure cost him a hefty $16,000, Geib hoped that a 1978 federal law requiring utilities to pay for excess power produced by windplants would allow him to recoup his expenses. However, Ohio Edison has offered Dick payment of only 1.67 cents per kilowatt hour, and informed him that this would accompany an increase in his monthly service charge (supposedly to cover the utility's cost of installing an additional meter and figuring his bill by hand). Geib rejected the proposal, and plans to continue the battle. But the disagreement may be solved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which has yet to rule on a similar case concerning electric rates for small power generators.

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