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Important/Good Reading

  • Now or Never: Why We Must Act Now to End Climate Change and Create a Sustainable Future by Tim Flannery

  • Climate Change in the Adirondacks: The Path to Sustainability by Jerry Jenkins

  • Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben

  • Storms of my Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity by James Hansen

  • The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James Lovelock

  • Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

  • Six Degrees by Mark Lynas

  • Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost? by Jon Creyts et al., McKinsey & Company, December 2007

  • Containing Climate Change by Carter Bales and Richard Duke, Foreign Affairs 87:78-89

  • The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

  • The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock

  • An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore

  • The Last Forest – The Amazon in the Age of Globalization by Mark London and Brian Kelly

  • The Winds of Change by Eugene Linden

  • The Creation – An Appeal to Save Life on Earth by E. O. Wilson

  • The Future of Life by E. O. Wilson

  • The World According to Pimm by Stuart Pimm

  • The End of Nature by Bill McKibben

  • Walking Home by Bill McKibben

  • Hope, Human and Wild by Bill McKibben

  • The Condor’s Shadow by David Wilcove

  • The Smaller Majority by Piotr Naskrecki

  • For Love of Insects by Thomas Eisner

  • The Geography of Childhood by Gary Paul Nabhan

  • Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Report: May 2008 - More Than 1,700 U.S. Scientists and Economists’ Call for Swift and Deep Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    “We call on our nation’s leaders to swiftly establish and implement policies to bring about deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions. The strength of the science on climate change compels us to warn the nation about the growing risk of irreversible consequences as global average temperatures continue to increase over pre-industrial levels (i.e., prior to 1860). As temperatures rise further, the scope and severity of global warming impacts will continue to accelerate.

    The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unequivocally concluded that our climate is warming, stating with at least 90 percent certainty that the warming of the last several decades is primarily due to human activities. Global average temperatures have already risen ~ 0.7°C (1.3°F) over the last 100 years, and impacts are now being observed worldwide. Human-caused emissions to date have locked in further changes including sea-level rise that will intensify coastal flooding, and dramatic reductions in snowpack that will disrupt water supplies in the western United States. If emissions continue unabated, our nation and the world will face more sea level rise, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, snowmelt, flood risk, and public health threats, as well as increased rates of plant and animal species extinctions.

    The longer we wait, the harder and more costly it will be to limit climate change and to adapt to those impacts that will not be avoided. Many emissions reduction strategies can be adopted today that would save consumers and industry money while providing benefits for air quality, energy security, public health, balance of trade, and employment.

    All nations must commit to a goal designed to limit further harm. The European Union and a number of other countries have adopted a goal for limiting global warming to no more than 2ºC (3.6°F) above preindustrial levels. Emerging science must be regularly evaluated to assess whether this goal is sufficient.

    The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change recognizes that all nations have a responsibility to curb global warming, consistent with their respective contribution to emissions and capacity to act. Recent analyses indicate the United States – even with aggressive action by other nations – would need to reduce its emissions on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050 to have a reasonable chance of limiting warming to 2ºC.

    A strong U.S. commitment to reduce emissions is essential to drive international climate progress. Voluntary initiatives to date have proven insufficient. We urge U.S. policy makers to put our nation onto a path today to reduce emissions on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050. The first step on this path should be reductions on the order of 15-20 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, which is achievable and consistent with sound economic policy.

    There is no time to waste. The most risky thing we can do is nothing.”


    • “Time is short. The 2008 election is critical for the planet. If Americans turn out to pasture the most brontosaurian congressmen, if Washington adapts to address climate change, our children and grandchildren can still hold great expectations.”

      … Dr. James Hansen, testifying before Congress in the summer of 2008
    • “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

      … E.E. Cummings
    • “The worst thing that can happen, will happen, is not energy depletion, economic collapse, limited nuclear war, or conquest by a totalitarian government. As terrible as these catastrophes would be for us, they can be repaired within a few generations. The one process now ongoing that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.”

      … Dr. Edward O. Wilson, “Resolutions for the 80s,” Harvard Magazine, January-February 1980, pp. 22-26 (quoted in Wilson’s Naturalist, 1994, p. 355, and also published in very similar form in Biophilia, 1984, p. 121)
    • “"We don't have a right to ask whether we're going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what's the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?"

      …Wendell Berry
    • “The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire a composer; but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again..”

      … William Bebee, The Bird, 1906
    • “The first steps toward stewardship are awareness, appreciation, and the selfish desire to have the things around for our kids to see. Presumably the unselfish motives will follow as we wise up.”

      … Barbara Kingsolver
    • “We predict, on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios for 2050, that 15-37% of species in our sample of regions [covering some 20% of the earth’s surface] and taxa [1,103] will be ‘committed to extinction.’ These estimates show the importance of rapid implementation of technologies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for carbon sequestration.”

      … Thomas et al., “Extinction risk from climate change,” Nature 427:145-148, 8 January 2004.
    • “In forgetting that we , too, are animals, a part of Nature, as dependent on its health and balance as any other mammal, we foolishly permit the unrestrained destruction of our Earth habitat that promises to leave mankind as desolate and bereft of hope as a turtle stripped from its shell.”
    • “The 20th century was by far the warmest of the past millennium. The 1990s were the warmest decade in recorded history. World rainfall patterns are influx, with more frequent and destructive deluges and droughts, more fires, more storms, and unnatural catastrophes, together with ruinous erosion and loss of agricultural lands, forests, and wetlands. In tropical seas, coral reefs are disappearing; loss of the Earth’s biodiversity accelerates each year; and everywhere, wildlife distribution and migration patterns are disrupted. Carbon dioxide from fuel emissions is by far the largest component of greenhouse gases, and concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, already 30 percent higher than two centuries ago, are grossly increasing every year with next to nothing being done, a calamity that our inheritors will rightly blame on the greed and lack of vision of the most powerful nation in history.”

      … Peter Matthiessen, pp. 42 and 137 in End of the Earth – Voyages to Antarctica, 2003, National Geographic Society
    • “There are probably ten million kinds of animals and plants. No more than 1 in a million – 10 – should go extinct per year naturally; that has been the average rate across tens of millions of years of the Earth’s geological past. Yet in recorded history we have been liquidating animals and plants 100 times faster than the natural rate. The rate is now accelerating to between 1000 and 10,000 times the natural rate. A third of all kinds of plants and animals could be on a path to extinction by the middle of the century. … Across several human generations, a transition to sustainable use of natural resources is essential. Nothing precludes our conserving our irreplaceable biodiversity during that transition. … Greatly increasing the areas protecting biodiversity represents a clear and achievable goal, one potentially attainable using funds raised in the private sector and leveraged through governments. … The urgency is driven by the pending loss of so much of the world’s natural areas and biodiversity in the first half of this century if we do act immediately. There is much more that we need to know, but we clearly know enough to act. Our world is a spectacularly beautiful, interesting, and diverse place. Only by attending to its problems will it remain so.”

      … Dr. Stuart L. Pimm, The World According to Pimm, 2001, McGraw-Hill, NY
    • “The negative impacts of our species on natural systems continue to work their destruction largely because we greatly undervalue the importance of natural systems to our own survival and welfare. In neglecting to place a high priority on the health and survival of our fellow creatures on the planet, and in continuing to compromise the resilience of natural systems as if they did not matter, we ultimately threaten ourselves as gravely as we threaten other species.”

      … Dr. Noel Snyder, p. 140 in The Carolina Parakeet, 2004, Princeton University Press
    • “Saving the Amazon now requires saving people who live in the Amazon – more than twenty million of them – by making educated and collaborative judgments about development and preservation. Preaching to Brazil from London, Paris, or Washington about what its citizens can or cannot do or can or cannot touch causes nothing but resentment. To save the Amazon, we must recognize this region as one of the few frontiers left on Earth where, as Meirelles said, opportunities abound. The Amazon presents a challenge in nation building for Brazil, an opportunity to enfranchise its citizenry and create a positive sense of national participation, an opportunity rarely seen anywhere in the developing world. The challenge also presents Brazil with an opportunity to discharge an enormous responsibility among the family of nations – to serve as guardian of the world's largest respository of biodiversity and source of fresh water, as well as the critical stabilizer of its climate. If it succeeds it will deserve international gratitude.

    • Why does any of this matter? The easy answer is, because of the substantiated predictions about changes to the world's climate and predictions about the rapid depletion of the world’s natural wealth if the rate of deforestation continues. But the more complex answer hints at a solution. In his post-9/11 “wake-up call” speech, Blairo Maggi, the governor of the Amazon state of Mato Grosso, warned that as the devloped world reacted to the violence of the day it would lose sight of the cause of that violence. Terrorism is a symptom of alienation he argued. Degradation of the environment is its cousin. People degrade the environment because they do not perceive themselves as invested in its future, not because they hate trees or clean water. Reasonable people do not deforest their backyards, nor destroy what they own. The environmental problems in Brazil have arisen because the political and economic system in Brazil, as well as globally, has failed to create a sense of interest in the clear connection between an individual’s well-being and the well-being of the environment. Or because commercial self-interests often trump the common interest in protecting natural resources. That must change.”

      … Mark London and Brian Kelly, The Last Forest – The Amazon in the Age of Globalization, 2007, p. xiii
    • “It is morally wrong for one animal, or society, to dispossess, subjugate, or exterminate another animal, or society.”

      … adapted from Jared Diamond, Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, 2005, p. 10
    • “When the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and earth must pass before such a one can be again.”

      … William Beebe, NYZS Curator of Birds
    • “I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving he can outwit nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.”

      … E. B. White
    • “A man hath no preeminence above a beast; for all is vanity.”

      … Ecclesiastes 3:19
    • “A thing is right when it tends to protect the integrity, stability, and diversity of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

      … Aldo Leopold
    • “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.”

      … Alice Walker
    • “In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.”

      … John Sawhill
    • “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

      … E. B. White
    • “All living things on earth are kindred.”
    • “Growth for the sake of growth is cancerous.”
    • “Balance, that's the secret. Moderate extremism.”
    • “We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may not ever need to go there.”
    • “I hold no preference among flowers, as long as they are wild, free, spontaneous.”

      … Edward Abbey – Desert Solitaire, 1968
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