Leaves of a tree
“We are all but recent leaves on the same old tree of life and if this life has adapted itself to new functions and conditions, it uses the same old basic principles over and over again. There is no real difference between the grass and the man who mows it.”
In his 2007 bestseller “The World Without Us,” Alan Weisman expands on a thought experiment published in a 2005 issue of Discover magazine: What if we considered the human impact on the planet by removing the humans?
Everything we’ve built, dumped, dammed, spilt, or pulled up out of the ground remains; but there are no longer any people keeping all those balls in the air. The human endeavor comes crashing down. Earth and its surviving inhabitants are left to digest what remains of civilization, as all the great structures of Man come crumbling back into dust, leaving a scarred but resilient Earth. Continue reading “Earth Day Without Us: Human conceit, resilience, and finding our place in the Anthropocene”
Fight another day
The first COP climate conference of the Trump presidency wrapped up last week. True to form, the final gavel fell in the “wee hours” of Saturday morning.
Lacking the excitement of COP21 two years ago, COP23 is nonetheless one more step in the long road of transforming into reality the global aspiration expressed in Paris.
That reality is by no means assured. Despite the political upheaval of the past year, we survive to fight another day.
A race to where?
Continue reading “COP23 Wraps : The Long Journey Continues, Nobody Said It Was Easy”
Bridging the gap
I tried this last week on a post I promoted on Facebook expressing my concern with changing federal environmental policy in Alaska.
That I was paying Facebook a modest sum of cash in exchange for increased exposure, I anticipated raucous participation from the comments section. Just preaching to the choir gets boring. My keyword-laden commentary, including “liberal bubble,” should be an easy target.
Continue reading “Going to Common Ground”
It’s the economy, stupid.
In 1992, political strategist James Carville coined his catchy admonition ostensibly to keep his staff on message, arguably helping pave the way to Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Carville’s “snowclone” phrase has since been bent and contorted into service across a wide swath of issues.
It’s time to bring the expression home.
Continue reading “Community Capital: Economic Development With a Sense of Place”
One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic
Be it from social unrest, economic upheaval, or environmental collapse, forced human migration is at unprecedented levels. According to the UNHCR, there are more than 65 million displaced people in the world today. Of those, more than 22 million are forced refugees. Over half are under 18 years old. Nearly 20 people are displaced from their homes every minute.
Continue reading “Climate Migration, the Paris Agreement, and the Delusion of Isolation”
A Harbormaster’s Reflection on a Life Watching the Sea
From Doc Ricketts to Mack to Dora Flood, Monterey is the stuff of legend, the iconic fishing town hugging the Pacific Coast of central California.
Brought to life by the characters of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, the abundance of Monterey Bay fueled Steinbeck’s imagination. More than just characters in a novel, Monterey is quintessentially a community of people and their relationship with the sea.
Continue reading “The Sea is Confused”
A corrupted creation myth
The scientific debate whether we call our geologic epoch the Anthropocene is yet to be settled.
What is less debatable is the planetary-scale impact of human activity. As we posit throughout PlanetWatch, we live in the Age of Man. Our presence is felt in every corner of the Earth. Dominion over the Earth, what was once we imagined, an ageless myth, is our reality. We reap the benefits for a time.
Continue reading “Looking for Tomorrow: Reasons for Hope in a Troubled World”
Writing to a class of international students “Climate Change Mitigation in the Developing World” about “climate policy where I live”
It is, of course, hard news from the United States with Donald Trump signing his “energy independence” executive order. Among other things, the order calls for a “rewrite” of former president Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP is (was) the cornerstone of the U.S. INDC commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Continue reading “The Failure of U.S. Climate and Environmental Policy and Why There is Still Hope”
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
– Wendell Berry
Continue reading “World Wildlife Day | Saving Our Own Humanity”