Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


June 01, 2008

Courtney Everts Mykytyn, Ph.D.

Independent Scholar, Medical Anthropology

Today’s Date: 14 April 2008

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

This is a tough question to answer as there have been many... we have always had cats and dogs in our various homes and been day-hikers and campers. But the first that comes to mind -- well, two that come to mind immediately are these:

1) During an 8-month backpacking-hitchhiking trip through S. America when I was 21, I was in an outdoor market in Lima, Peru. A man got my attention and was trying to sell me a baby spider monkey. I was aghast. He kept the little thing in a burlap bag and it was shivering when he yanked it out. It was agonizing for me as I felt very caught between not wanting to be a consumer contributing to the maintenance of this kind of animal-market and the thought of that particular monkey suffering. After a few days of naively trying to figure a way to get the animal back to the States, I bought her and took her to the zoo. Which was perhaps an even worse fate though I try to believe that at least she had other spider monkeys to befriend. Anyway, this decision and experience still haunts me.

2) At about 14 a friend and I found a raccoon in the woods near our home. It was clearly dying and probably suffering. We couldn't just walk away but had no idea how to help -- and doubted that the animal could be rehabilitated. Eventually, we enlisted some help and sadly but quickly killed the raccoon. Did we put it out of misery? Were we being good stewards? The woods have always been a favorite place of mine and I often think of that raccoon when I am out in the trees...

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

While I loved camping and hiking, perhaps my favorite place as a kid was beneath a great old oak tree. I would sit there reading for hours as the sun twirled through the leaves...

Now? There is a hike near my Southern California home that traverses a small creek. The boulders are enormous and the gorge the creek has cut through them is beautiful. I am always impressed by the intrepid roots of the trees that cling to the side of these rock cliffs and somehow manage to eek out an existence.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is and why?

No real such "thing" as a favorite for me. I am drawn to the primates but have a hard time seeing them at the zoo and overhearing the stupid taunts of my fellow zoogoers. Perhaps because I spend most of my animal time w/ our three rescue mutts, I might say the canine tops my list...

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

Perhaps the loss of animal habitat and the ever-growing human population would be the biggest challenge. Oh, and global warming.

5. If you could give one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

Jeez... One piece of advice? Hmm. Leave the world better than you found it. A somewhat trite answer -- and one that is incredibly subject to interpretation -- but one that I try to teach my two children (even when we walk through our neighborhood, I make them pick up at least a piece of trash that their footprint in a small way is a thoughtful one).

1 comment:

  1. E. Calvin Beisner9:23 AM

    Dr. Mykytyn and several others in this fascinating series of posts mention population growth as a great challenge, but the UN Population Division and most demographers agree that population will peak around mid-century and decline thereafter as a consequence (as it has been repeatedly in the past) of economic maturation, making not population growth but population decline and aging as real threats--as discussed in, e.g., The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It, by Phillip Longman; Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, by Ben Wattenberg; The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know About America’s Economic Future, by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns; and Running On Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It, by Peter G. Peterson. Worldwide total fertility rate has already fallen by half since 1972, are declining everywhere, and are well below replacement level in all advanced economies. Europe is losing about 900,000 people per year even after immigration, and Russia about 1 million. "If worldwide fertility rates reach levels now common in the developing [note that--not "developed," but "developing"--ECB] world (and that is where they seem headed), within a few centuries, the world’s population could shrink below the level of America’s today," writes Stanley Kurtz (, and the huge shift in age distribution toward the elderly will present major challenges to productivity. Even to those who think of growing population as a threat (with whom I would disagree anyway), plummeting fertility rates show that the "threat" has already been defused.