I’ve never have had much luck reading anthologies. While there is a theme through the book, the lack of central and unifying direction means I often leave them half finish or half started. At the same time, where else can you get such a collection of thoughts or exposure to the new works of authors. My solution, take the time to write about each piece that I read. I believe that the act of adding my own thoughts and reactions will tie the work together in a way that keeps me motivated.

Moral Ground: Ethical Action For A Planet In Peril

Editors: Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson

This book was published in 2010. At that point the editors as well as the authors all perceived that human activities were altering the well being of the planet. Our individual and societal well being is inexplicitly tied to the well being of the planet. Therefore, action is needed and must be done for moral reasons to preserve what we are lucky enough to have.

This book is a call to that moral affirmation. It is a call to people to honor their moral responsibility to the future to strive to avert the worst consequences of the environmental emergencies and leave a world as rich in life and possibility as the world we line in.

I

Do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?

Yes, for the survival of humankind.

The Limits of Growth

James Gustave Speth A very powerfully written piece about the need for post-growth society. Claims that the environmental movement needs to work with reform politics and those advocates for social injustice to have any ability to combat the current political economy of capitalism.

But today’s environmental reality is linked powerfully with other realities, including growing social inequality and neglect and the erosion of democratic governance and popular control. So we must now mobilize our spiritual and political resources of transformative change on all three fronts. We as all communities of shared fate. We will rise or fall together.

The Danger of Human Exceptionalism

David Quinn Human Exceptionalism was a theory put forth by Thomas Malthus stating that there human continue to increase in population size regardless of the increase in food resources. Only humans do this, hence the exception. Quinn puts forth the idea that capping food production is a mechanism of restricting population growth. The big piece here is that hunger is a poverty issue not a food issue. We’ve continued to increase food production yet hunger does not decrease proportionally. Quinn makes the example of human as biomass, and that our biomass has double in the past 50 years. That biomass comes from other living organism because that is the only thing it can come from. That is the pressure that is being put on ecological systems.

A Question of Our Own Survival

The Dalai Lama A very approachable piece about the importance of the Earth from the Buddhist perspective, kind of. That’s not really the best way to put it, that is it’s not really limited to the Buddhist experience it’s just that is what the author frames it through. Great messages about the important of caring, compassion and understanding. Speak to the importance of thinking of karma and the danger of following only selfish gains.

With the ever-growing impacts of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play in reminding us of our humanity. There is not contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teachings of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things.

The Fate of Creation Is the Fate of humanity

E.O.Wilson A shorter essay that highlights the two primary ways in which human society is dependent upon the well being of the ecological system of the Earth. I found a specific paragraph which highlight how so many choose to remain ignorant of the damages cause we very impactful.

There seems no better way to explain why so many smart people remain passive while the precious remnants of the natural world disappear.

The Inuit Right to Culture Based on Ice and Snow

Sheila Watt-Cloutier This is a very unique perspective, given that it is coming from someone in culture that is still very much connected to the landscape as a food source. I write that and I realize how silly that sounds. We’re all still very much connected to the landscape as a food source. For most of us that connection is abstracted through societal structure, for the Inuit, it’s a very direct connection. The most important notion from this writing was that we need to make a climate change a human’s right issue not a economic, political, or technical issue. In pushing a purely economically focused society we are eliminating the Inuit’s ability to maintain their culture. Sheila goes on to claim that the reason we are having this issue in the first place is due to a lack of connection.

I always ask the global community, is it not to reestablish that connection that we are all here trying to deal with this issue? Is it not because people have lost that connection between themselves and their neighbors, between their actions and the environment, that we are debating this issue of climate change in the first place?

The Future I Want for My Daughters

Barack Obama This is very short piece that is built on top a very good preexisting quotes. I have to admit, it felt very good to read someone of past political standing making some strong statements about our moral obligation to make the world a better place for the future. In the 2 page essay it hits on many of the primary challenges facing the (country, world, or future I’m finding it very hard to tie theses issues to a singular entity) future. Entrenched political system based on extractive industries, the challenge of limiting ourselves now for something in the future, and the reality that the climatic variability will change how we live. We don’t want to hear about any of these things. As if ignoring the problem will somehow make it go away…

And so we’ve got this obligation to them, which means that we’ve got to make some uncomfortable choices. And potentially, religious faith and the science of global warming converge precisely because it’s going to be hard to deal with. We have to find resources in ourselves that allow us to make those sacrifices where we say, you know what? We’re not going to leave it to the next generation. We’re not going to wait.

Obligation to Posterity

Alan Weisman A bit of an odd ball out in the series so far. Weisman states that arguing for action based on moral obligation is needed but not the best route to take. He references the idea of identifying selfish goals that all humans can identify with as a mechanism to ensure the future is maintained. This stings a little to hear. I know if we are missing one of our base level needs, we can not generally expect to make choices that don’t involve getting that need fulfill. What the author brings up is that even when all those base needs are filled it is still very difficult to make choices that work against them. Like I said, it stings a bit but the reality of it does settle in when you look at the role of strict logic in the decision making process. People have a difficult time saying that’s good enough when it come to material processions. Very few individuals would be willing to reduce their quality of living to support a greater good, even if that quality of living was something as simple as continuing to drive a car that has hail damage in lieu of buying a new one. So maybe there is a role for preaching how environmental quality is related to your own personal life quality. I would hope it’s in conjunction with the other forms of logic that previous others have been speaking to. I see this as the pointed edge of a wedge that allows the moral arguments to fit into one identity.

Rather than trying to appeal to reason or higher values - things that most people either don’t grasp or care about, or too often simply ignore- I suggest we appeal to greed and selfishness. It simple takes to long to change enough people’s minds and hearts to make them act out of obligation to a good greater than themselves. Not that it isn’t worth trying. But if we put all our effort into raising the masses’ consciousness regarding the eco-errors of their ways, the planet will likely be destroyed long before we’ve swayed a majority.

II

Do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?

Yes, for the sake of the children.

Keepers of Life

Oren Lyons A short work describing the unique perspective of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee. This brings to light the at current culture we’ve developed around consumption of material goods is really just one way to do things. It also puts the responsibility of the future on our current choices. It good to see individuals and cultures owning up to there role in the current situation and realizing we can do better.

It seems to me that we are living in a time of prophecy, a time of definitions and decisions. We are the generation with the responsibilities and the option to choose the Path of Life for the future of our children. Or the life and path that defies the Laws of Regeneration.

We Bear You in Mind

Scott Russell Sanders Absolutely beautiful writing framed in such a way that it is not clear who the note is written to. It comes across as if you personally were receiving this message from someone in the past. The message is really about a simple place that the author cares about. It’s still complex and full but it is not a grand space that would make it onto a post card. There is a sense of wonderment and worry about the future that let’s you know this person cares deeply about it. I would read more of this author.

Thoughts of you make me reflect soberly on how I lead my life. When I spend Money, when I turn the key in my car, when I vote or refrain from voting, when I fill my head or belly with whatever’s for sale, when I teach students or write books, ripples from my actions spread into the future , and sooner or later they will reach you. So I bear you in mind. I try to imagine what sort of world you will inherit.

For the Children

Gary Snyder A short poem.

Steering the Earth Toward Our Children’s Future

John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch His Holiness Bartholomew I When I read pieces such as this I makes me want to believe in the role of organized religion in swaying the moral compass of the populous. You get the impression that these leaders really care for the well being of people and all of Gods creation. I particularly like how idea of solidarity is central to the message. I would hope that solidarity could be formed around the well being of the planet first rather then the God. That might be a high sighted goal but it seems like the one to reach too. The religious writes do believe that well being is not inherently tied to material wealth and that is a powerful tenant for facing the challenges ahead.

We have been making decisions, taking actions, and assigning values that are leading us away from the world as it should be, away from a healthy planet and a healthy commonwealth of people. A new approach and a new culture are needed, based on the centrality of the human person within creation and inspired by environmentally ethical behavior stemming from our triple relationship to God, to self, and to creation. Such an ethic s fosters interdependence and stresses the principles of universal solidarity, social justice,and responsibility, in order to promote a true culture of life.’’

A Letter to My Boys

Hylton Murray-Philipson This was a good mix of heartfelt experience, economic realities, and scientific facts. A full and well round argument abotu how we need to make a choice and we should make the choice that protects the future. Easy to stand behind and personally engaging.

The economic model off which the world is working came from an Age of Innocence and is not fit for our purpose in the twenty-first century - the Age of Consequences. The rules for 1 billion people cannot be the same for 6 billion, going on 9 billion by 2050. this is a defining moment, full of danger but also full of hope. “Business as usual” would end in tears, but if we can dare to think differently your lives can be more wonderful then any that have gone before.

You Choose

Derrick Jensen I wanted to quote this entire chapter. It is full of fire and furry and makes everything else in this book seem passive and soft. The author argues that the whole system of capitalism needs to change in order to get out of the hole we’ve been digging ourselves. It a good example of not being able to see outside of your own experiences. Sweeping the floor when the tornado is coming to the house. As much as a loved I don’t think I can full bight on it. maybe that makes me weak but a toppling of a system as large as modern capitalism would result is some serious devastation. As much as I worry about dangers of not supporting the Earth I fear the actions of humans far more. At the same time I do believe that this essay gets closer to the root of the problem then any other. We’re embedded in a culture that is inherently altering the Earth. If we try to work from only within that culture we will still be inherently altering the Earth. I guess my line falls that some around the idea that we will always be altering the Earth because we will always be a part of it.

We as environmentalists do the same. We work as hard as we can to protect the places we love, using the tools of the system the best we can. Yet we do not do the most important thing of all: we do not question the existence of this current death culture. We do not question the existence of this economic and social system that is working the world to death, that is starving it to death, that is imprisoning it, that is torturing it. We never question a culture that leads to the atrocities. We never question the logic that leads inevitably to clear-cuts, murdered oceans, loss of topsoil, damned rivers, poisoned aquifers, global warming. And we Certainly don’t act to bring it down.

III

Do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?

Yes, for the sake of the Earth itself.

Sky

Brian Turner Short poem

A hinge Point of History

Holmes Rolston III I’ve been interested in the Anthropocene for a while and the opening paragraph, which is quoted below, has provide In my opinion the best interpretation of the meaning of this change. Culture is more powerful then Nature. While we have evidence to support this change the focus of this essay is that we need to learn to understand the limits and consequences of such power. The culture that we develop within is going to change how we evolve as a society. We’ve crossed a threshold of biological evolution and now need to understand the effects and changes of cultural evolution as well. The end message is that while culture is defining us and now the planet wisdom can still come from the earth and all that is upon it.

We live at a change in epochs. We are witness to the end of nature as we enter a new era: the Anthropocene. From this point on, culture more then nature is the principal determinant of Earth’s future. We are passing into a century when this will be increasingly obvious, and this fact puts us indeed at a hinge point of history.

The Planet Is Shouting but Nobody Listens

F. Stuart Chapin III The worked captured the idea of the growth and development of the place in science overtime. The author starts by stating that his initial work in ecology allowed intellectual growth and the ability to share his work and ideas with other who were conducting similar work. Yet today that is not a luxury that a scientist has. The work is move important then ever because we need to be convinced and understand what can be done. It also appreciated the highlighting of the effect of climate change on the northern regions. It’s much more dramatics and it will be effecting the cultural livelihood of the people from it. Overall just a good piece by a professional researcher reaching out.

Society is well poised to take actions that can substantially reduce the pressures that are currently accelerating the rate of planetary change. The science and technology required to reduce rates of climate change are readily available and maturing rapidly. The missing pieces are the dialogues necessary to connect the increasingly obvious planetary changes with the deepest motivations of every person as a steward of planet Earth. Only if we deeply and personally understand our role in this rapidly changing planet will we make the choices that best preserve our grandchildren the option to experience personally the human connection to nature that have been and will continue to be the cultural wellspring of humanity.

The Bells of Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh Very much humanist writer. The message in part is that we don’t need the things we are told to want. I’m greatly simplifying it but it a message we likely don’t hear enough to believe in. In contrast to things community, sense of place, and awareness are all features that more effective promote well being.

We need a kind of collective awakening. There are among us men and women who are awakened, but it’s not enough; most people are still sleeping. We have constructed a system we can’t control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims.

Restoration and Redemption

Robin Morris Collin Written as a letter to his children this is a very descriptive and emotional piece about what hte connection to the landscape really means. How it is were connected to the Earth. How those aspects that do connect us are thinning and replaced by modern technology based tools and features.

The nature we have in common defines us, keeps us healthy and sane. The connection we form with the cycles of nature keeps us rich in spirit and growing.

Quote from Chief Seattle speech, version 3

Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself.

A Copernican Revolution in Ethics

Kate Rawles

An impassionate plea to the need of awareness of the effects of our actions. It blends numerical presentation of data with personal experience to give a full feeling of the stakes. Ends on a positive note of climate change being the process that bring forth a change in human culture and values.

Climate change offers us the opportunity to make radical, positive change. It is a chance to make human life, now and in the future, better and fairer in ways that are compatible with ecological community.

IV

Do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?

Yes, for the sake of all forms of life on the planet.

Wild Things for Their Own Sakes

Dave Foreman

This essay makes for a pitch for the necessity of wildness in our lives. It argues that wild things are self willed not controlled and play a signification role in our own identities. It takes the message of do we have a morel obligation to how can we say we can make these choices.

Our asking should instead begin in the bedrock that we of course have an obligation to wild things of all species, today and tomorrow, to honor their intrinsic value and thus to act only in ways that keep whole the beauty, integrity and stability of Earth.

Aldo Leopold : Land Ethic

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Spray Glue Goes. Maggots Stay

Carly Lettero This essay really hit home for me. It’s about death and trash. The death of a loved one is something that nearly everyone experiences at some point. What we think of the passing is personal and near. The author shares her opinion and one of the many things that do come up is, why is there so much trash being generate to clean my grandfather. It states that traditions are passed from generation to generation and we need to take the time to pass new traditions of land use. To do that we need to live them.

If I am to leave future generations a world that is better than the one I am inheriting, I am going to have to change almost everything, from the way I live to the way I die. It is not a matter of simply handing down a policy or new technology. To leave things better for the future, I need to hand down traditions, like polka dancing and garage sale hunting and knowing what to do in the moment of death. Traditions take time and repetition and witness and careful attention to details. It is not easy.

Ornithophilia

Shepard Krech III

need to read, come back to this one

Heirloom Chile Peppers and Climate Change

Gary Paul Nabhan I appreciated this essay because it took the momentous challenge of climate change and framed it in a small but real frame that effect some people. It’s directedness will answer the questions of “how does this effect me” for some. This leaks around the idea of action for moral good but it is still needed action. In this case it’s about chile peppers. Yet the bigger picture idea is place based cultures. The environment will change the place and cultures need to change as well.

It is the endangerment of such relationships between nature, culture, plants, and the stories and songs which celebrate them that is making me mourn my way across the delta.

Imagining Darwin’s Ethics

David Quanmmen The author views biodiversity loss as the most important issue the Earth is facing. As a result he looks back to the scientific and philosophically revolutionary work of Charles Darwin. Darwin never directly started his moral or ethical grounds but the author attempt to make the extension. The end result is not to surprising that Darwin would care about the future.

We can call this one the Holocene extinction (as some experts have proposed), since that’s our present geological epoch. And we shouldn’t forget that, unlike all others, the Holocene extinction is attributable not to asteroid impact or catastrophic volcanism or some other form of external accident, but to the actions of single earthly species: us. Those actions and their direct effects fall under six major headings: habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, overharvest (especially on islands and in the oceans), transfer of invasive species from one ecosystem to another, cascades of extinction that tumble through ecosystems, and finally, climate change, yes, because it exacerbates the effects of habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and invasive species.