Gaia: A New Look at life on the Earth. A long summary.

James Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, New York: Oxford University PRess, 1979, pp. vvi-12.

We all know of “Mother Earth” – even the Greeks called her Gaia.  She, as a concept, has been the basis of a belief that lasts the length of recorded history.  Recently, as a result of the accumulation of evidence about the natual environment and the growth of the science of ecology, there have been speculations that the biosphere may be more that just the complete range of all living things within their natal habitat of soil, sea, and air.

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“Walking”: A somewhat poetic summary

Henry David Thoreau, “Walking,” from the Thoreau Reader.  A somewhat poetic summary.



Walking.

Words for Nature, absolute Freedom, and Wilderness.

Man as an inhabitant, part and parcel of nature.

Come sauntering: à la sainte terre.  Not idly or as a vagabond.

All the earth is our home; sitting idly in a house makes you a vagrant.

Come sauntering, as a crusade, reconquer this holy land from the infidels.

A faint-hearted crusade… but only if you are ready to leave all behind,

free.

Then you will be ready for a walk. Continue reading

Part 2, David Orr’s “What is Education For?”

Part 1 is here.


Rethinking Education

Orr then gives six principles for rethinking education

Rethinking Education #1: All education is environmental education.

Curriculum determines whether students view themselves as part of or apart from the natural world.  Economics without ecology or thermodynamics assumes that ecology and physics have nothing to do with economics.

One could say that economics is completely independent of those things, but without an ecology, there is no real economy – plain and simple. Continue reading

Part 1, David Orr’s “What is Education For?”

David Orr’s, “What is Education For?”, from Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect.  (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2004, pp. 7-15).

Orr begins with a plethora of rather down-to-‘earth’ statistics, letting us know that everyday we lose: 116 square miles of rainforest (an acre a second), 72 miles of land to desert every day, 40-250 species (whether it’s 40 or 250 no one knows).  The human population will increase by 250 000, and we’ll add 2700 tons of chlorofluorocarbons and 15 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  He notes that in the year 2000, “perhaps as much as 20% of the life forms extant on the planet in the year 1900 will be extinct.”  Orr lets us know that the loss of land is due to human mismanagement and overpopulation.

The effects of all this are much more important than the statistics:

The truth is that many things on which our future health and prosperity depend on are in dire jeopardy: climate stability, the resilience and productivity of natural systems, the beauty of the natural world, and biological diversity.

I wonder if these things are truly what our future health and prosperity depend on.

Orr changes gears.  He describes that this – our overpopulation and mismanagement – is not the work of ignorant people, but by very educated people.  He compares this to what Elie Wiesel points out: that the designers and perpetrators of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald – the Holocaust – were the heirs of Kant and Goethe, widely thought to be the best educated people on earth. But their education did not serve as an adequate barrier to barbarity.  “What was wrong with their education?” Asks Orr.  He uses Wiesel’s words:

It emphasized theories instead of values, concepts rather than human beings, abstraction rather than consciousness, answers instead of questions, ideology and efficiency rather than conscience.

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