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Table of Contents
Annual Editions: Easton
Unit: An Overview of Environmental Studies
Preservation vs. Conservation
GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, from Man and Nature (Charles Scribner, 1864).
"We are, even now, breaking up the floor and wainscoting and doors and window frames of our dwelling, for fuel to warm our bodies and seethe our pottage, and the world cannot afford to wait till the slow and sure progress of exact science has taught it a better economy."
JOHN MUIR, "Hetch Hetchy Valley" from The Mountains of California (Houghton Mifflin, 1916).
"Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for watertanks the people's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man."
GIFFORD PINCHOT, "Principles of Conservation" from The Fight for Conservation (Doubleday, 1910).
"Conservation does mean provision for the future, but it means also and first of all the recognition of the right of the present generation to the fullest necessary use of all the resources with which this country is so abundantly blessed."
ALDO LEOPOLD, "A Sand County Almanac," from A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There (Oxford University Press, 1977).
"The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land."
Fundamental Causes of Environmental Problems
PAUL S. MARTIN, from "Prehistoric Overkill: The Global Model," in Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution, Paul S. Martin and Richard G. Klein (Eds.) (University of Arizona Press, 1984).
"On a global scale the late Pleistocene extinction patterns appear to track the prehistoric movements or activities of Homo sapiens much more closely than any widely agreed-upon pattern of especially severe global climatic change."
LYNN WHITE, Jr., from "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," Science (March 10, 1967).
"Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia's religions (except, perhaps, Zoroastrianism), not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends."
GARRETT HARDIN, from "The Tragedy of the Commons," Science (December 13, 1968).
"Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all."
J. R. MCNEILL, "Peculiarities of a Prodigal Century," from Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World (W. W. Norton, 2000).
"The human species has shattered the constraints and rough stability of the old economic, demographic, and energy regimes. . . . The great modern expansion, while liberating in a fundamental sense, brought disruption with it. . . . Should this age of exuberance end, or even taper off, we will face another set of wrenching adjustments."
GRAHAM M. TURNER, from "On the Cusp of Global Collapse?: Updated Comparison of The Limits to Growth with Historical Data," GAIA-Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, vol. 21, No. 2 (2012).
"Our . . . comparison of global data with the [Limits to Growth] modeled scenarios  . . . continues to confirm that the standard run scenario represents real-world outcomes considerably well. This scenario results in collapse of the global economy and population in the near future. It begins in about 2015 with industrial output per capita falling precipitously, followed by food and services. Consequently, death rates increase from about 2020 and population falls from about 2030—as death rates overtake birth rates."
Environmental Ethics and Worldviews
WORLD COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT, "Towards Sustainable Development," from Our Common Future (1987).
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
NANCY MYERS, "The Rise of the Precautionary Principle: A Social Movement Gathers Strength," Multinational Monitor (September 2004).
"The essence of the Precautionary Principle is that when lives and the future of the planet are at stake, people must act on . . . clues and prevent as much harm as possible, despite imperfect knowledge and even ignorance."
PAUL W. TAYLOR, from "The Ethics of Respect for Nature," Environmental Ethics (1981).
"I argue that finally it is the good (well-being, welfare) of individual organisms, considered as entities having inherent worth, that determines our moral relations with the Earth's wild communities of life."
Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services
PETER M. VITOUSEK, HAROLD A. MOONEY, JANE LUBCHENCO, AND JERRY M. MELILLO, from "Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems," Science (July 25, 1997).
"[E]ven on the grandest scale, most aspects of the structure and functioning of Earth's ecosystems cannot be understood without accounting for the strong, often dominant influence of humanity."
MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT 2005, from Ecosystems and Human Well-Being (Island Press, 2005).
"Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. . . . The full costs . . . are only now becoming apparent."
Energy and Ecosystems
CHANCEY JUDAY, from "The Annual Energy Budget of an Inland Lake," Ecology (October 1940).
"The annual energy budget of a lake may be regarded as comprising the energy received from sun and sky each year and the expenditures or uses which the lake makes of this annual income of radiation."
JOHN M. FOWLER, from Energy and the Environment (McGraw-Hill, 1975).
"Heat energy cannot be completely converted to mechanical energy. In any conversion some of it is irrevocably lost; it remains in the form of heat and cannot be reclaimed for useful purposes."
Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy
ERIC ZENCEY, from "Energy as Master Resource," in State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? The Worldwatch Institute (Island Press, 2013).
"Ultimately, economics will have to recognize that we live on a finite planet and that the laws of thermodynamics apply to economic life as to all other life."
MARK Z. JACOBSON AND MARK A. DELUCCHI, from "A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030," Scientific American (November 2009).
"With extremely aggressive policies, all existing fossil-fuel capacity could theoretically be retired and replaced in [20–30 years], but with more modest and likely policies full replacement may take 40 to 50 years. Either way, clear leadership is needed, or else nations will keep trying technologies promoted by industries rather than vetted by scientists."
Unit: Environmental Degradation
Forests, Wilderness, and Wildlife
WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS, from Sierra Club v. Morton, U.S. Supreme Court, 405 U.S. 727 (1972).
"Those who hike the Appalachian Trail into Sunfish Pond, New Jersey, and camp or sleep there, or run the Allagash in Maine, or climb the Guadalupes in West Texas, or who canoe and portage the Quetico Superior in Minnesota, certainly should have standing to defend those natural wonders before courts or agencies, though they live 8,000 miles away."
JEFF WHEELWRIGHT, from "Captive Wilderness," Discover (August 2006).
". . . I am reminded of the original intentions of the Wilderness Act. Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall, Howard Zahniser, and other 20th-century preservationists were believers in science, but they would have relished the state's predicament. To them, it was proper to be humbled by what isn't known about the wilderness. In the true scale of nature wilderness was big and fierce, and people were weak and small."
SECRETARIAT OF THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, "Executive Summary from Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity" from Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (2010).
"The target agreed by the world's Governments in 2002, 'to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth,' has not been met. . . . The action taken over the next decade or two . . . will determine whether the relatively stable environmental conditions on which human civilization has depended for the past 10,000 years will continue beyond this century. If we fail to use this opportunity, many ecosystems on the planet will move into new, unprecedented states in which the capacity to provide for the needs of present and future generations is highly uncertain."
MARTA COLL ET AL., "Ecosystem Overfishing in the Ocean," PLoS One (December 2008).
"[F]ishing is an important factor shaping the ocean and current fishing practices imply a non-negligible risk of ecosystem overfishing, with the subsequent risk of impairing important ecosystem services including the capability to supply food."
WILL R. TURNER ET AL., from "Global Biodiversity Conservation and the Alleviation of Poverty," Bioscience (January 2012).
"We find that biodiversity conservation priority areas are efficient targets for benefiting human well-being through the services these areas provide. The benefits to poor communities—both directly and through potential financial compensation schemes—are particularly strong."
LOUISE SWIFT ET AL., from "Wildlife Trade and the Emergence of Infectious Diseases," EcoHealth (March 2007).
"[L]ocal biodiversity loss and increasing rates of animal trafficking and trade may increase the probability of global epidemics such as SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome]."
JOHN EVELYN, from Fumifugium: Or the Inconvenience of the Aer and Smoake of London Dissipated (1661).
"It is this horrid Smoake which obscures out Churches, and makes our Palaces look old, which fouls our Clothes, and corrupts the Waters, so as the very Rain, and refreshing Dews which fall in the several Seasons, precipitate this impure vapour, which, with its black and tenacious quality, spots and contaminates whatever is exposed to it."
LINDA MARSA, from "Fracking Nation," Discover (May 2011).
"Fracking has . . . drawn considerable scrutiny from environmental groups, unhappy homeowners, and teams of lawyers who blame the drilling method for polluting pristine rivers, turning bucolic farmlands into noisy industrial zones, and leaking enough methane to make ordinary tap water as flammable as lighter fluid."
MARGARET A. PALMER AND J. DAVID ALLEN, from "Restoring Rivers," Issues in Science & Technology (Winter 2006).
"Despite [many] efforts to minimize the environmental impact of developing the land or extracting natural resources (such as mining), streams and rivers have continued to degrade. The controls have simply not been able to keep up with the rate of development and associated watershed damage."
THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE, "Summary for Policymakers" from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Fourth Assessment Report of The IPCC (February 2007).
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level."
DIRECTORATE OF GLOBAL ENERGY ECONOMICS OF THE INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY, "Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map" from World Energy Outlook Special Report (June 10, 2013).
"The world is not on track to meet the target agreed by governments to limit the long-term rise in the average global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius (°C). Global greenhouse-gas emissions are increasing rapidly and, in May 2013, carbon-dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in several hundred millennia. . . . [O]ur climate is already changing. . . ."
MARK FISCHETTI, from "Storm of the Century: Every Two Years," Scientific American (June 2013).
"According to the latest estimates, the chance of widely destructive flooding in New York City will be one in two each year by the end of the century unless significant infrastructure changes are made. Each decade from now until then, the 'average' flood will become worse and worse. Billions of dollars in repairs will become commonplace."
Unit: Human Health and the Environment
LESTER R. BROWN, from "Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?" Scientific American (May 2009).
"The biggest threat to global stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries to cause governmental collapse. Those crises are brought on by ever worsening environmental degradation."
N. V. FEDOROFF ET AL., from "Radically Rethinking Agriculture for the 21st Century," Science (February 12, 2010).
"The heart of new agricultural paradigms for a hotter and more populous world must be systems that close the loop of nutrient flows from microorganisms and plants and animals and back, powered and irrigated as much as possible by sunlight and seawater. . . . If we are to resume progress toward eliminating hunger, we must scale up and further build on the innovative approaches already under development, and we must do so immediately."
SATISH B. AHER, BHAVESHANANDA SWAMI, AND B. SENGUPTA, from "Organic Agriculture: Way Towards Sustainable Development," International Journal of Environmental Sciences (July 2012).
"[O]rganic production is equivalent [in yield] to, and in many cases better than, conventional farming practices. . . . Besides the yield comparisons, organic practices show higher organic matter in soil, lower energy consumption, lower use of external inputs, better food quality, and also potential to address the global issues like climate change."
VANDANA SHIVA, CAROLINE LOCKHART, AND RUCHI SHROFF, from The Law of the Seed (Navdanya International, 2013).
"The freedom to save and exchange seed is vital in our time characterized by multiple crises—the biodiversity crisis, the water crisis, the food crisis, [the] climate crisis, and the economic crisis, all of them part of a single crisis: a crisis of ethics and values."
THEO COLBORN, from Written Statement Presented to Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife; Hearing on "Overdose: How Drugs and Chemicals in Water and the Environment are Harming Fish and Wildlife" (June 9, 2009)
"It is now clear that a single chemical can have an impact on multiple [bodily] systems, via several exposure pathways and via a number of modes of action, and expressed in multiple ways over the period of a lifetime. These findings, that traditional toxicology continues to miss, have dire implications for public and environmental health."
FELICIA A. RABITO ET AL., from "Environmental Lead after Hurricane Katrina: Implications for Future Populations," Environmental Health Perspectives (February 2012)
"New Orleans children are at risk for elevated blood lead levels, including children who were not considered at high risk previously and for whom lead reduction has been considered a public health success."
Unit: Environment and Society
Political and Economic Issues
MARK SAGOFF, from "At the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, or Why Political Questions Are Not All Economic," Arizona Law Review (1981).
"How shall we balance efficiency against moral, cultural, and aesthetic values in policy for the workplace and the environment? No better way has been devised to do this than by legislative debate ending in a vote. This is very different from a cost-benefit analysis terminating in a bottom line."
ROBERT D. BULLARD, from "Environmental Justice for All," The Crisis (January/February 2003).
"If this nation is to achieve environmental justice, the environment in urban ghettoes, barrios, rural ‘poverty pockets’ and on reservations must be given the same protection as is provided to affluent suburbs. All communities—Black or White, rich or poor, urban or suburban—deserve to be protected from the ravages of pollution."
JANET N. ABRAMOWITZ, from "Putting a Value on Nature's ‘Free’ Services," World Watch (January/February 1998).
"The gross domestic product (GDP) . . . supposedly measures the value of the goods and services produced in a nation. But the most valuable goods and services—the ones provided by nature, on which all else rests—are measured poorly or not at all."
Population Control Controversies
DAVID ATTENBOROUGH, from "This Heaving Planet," New Statesman (April 25, 2011).
"Make a list of all the . . . environmental problems that now afflict us and our poor battered planet . . . [T]hey all share one underlying cause. Every one of these global problems, social as well as environmental, becomes more difficult—and ultimately impossible—to solve with ever more people."
PAUL COLLINS, "The Morality of Population Control," EurekaStreet.com (December 18, 2009).
"A basic moral conundrum concerns the ethical issues involved in inter-generational rights: if we consume so many resources now that the quality of life of future generations is compromised, are we acting in a morally responsible way?"
DAVID PIMENTEL ET AL., from "Will Limited Land, Water, and Energy Control Human Population Numbers in the Future?" Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal (August 2010).
"Because population growth cannot continue indefinitely, society can either voluntarily control its numbers or let natural forces such as disease, malnutrition, and other disasters limit human numbers."