Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Chief Seattle 1854 Speech

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Multimedia
Tags: ,

[Reply to an offer from the white government of the United States to “buy” a large area of Indian land.]

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clear and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.

The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful Earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters, the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and the man, all belong to the same family.

So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great White Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children. So we will consider your offer to buy land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us.

This shining water that moves in streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred blood of our ancestors. If we sell you land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events in the life of my people. The waters murmur is the voice of my father’s father.

The rivers of our brothers they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember to teach your children that the rivers are our brothers, and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness that you would give my brother. We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The Earth is not his brother, but his enemy and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s graves behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the Earth from his children, and he does not care.

His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the Earth, and his brother, the same, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the Earth and leave behind only a desert.

I do not know. Our ways are different from yours ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. But perhaps it is because the red man is a savage and does not understand.

There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring, or the rustle of an insect’s wings. But perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not understand. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of a whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night. I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of the pond, and the smell of the wind itself, cleansed by a midday rain, or scented with the pinon pine.

The air is precious to the red man, for all things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days, he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.

So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition – the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.

I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the Earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

This we know – the Earth does not belong to man – man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.

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.

Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover – Our God is the same God. You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land, but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for red man and the white. The Earth is precious to Him, and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass, perhaps sooner than all other tribes.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man. That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are slaughtered, the wild horses tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.

Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the Eagle? Gone.

The end of living and the beginning of survival.

Posted: November 29, 2011 in Quotes
Tags:

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.

– W. H. Auden

与地球共生息

Posted: November 9, 2011 in Chinese
Tags:

大地如母亲一般孕育我们,
而我们也应该做一个懂得感恩的孩子
回报大地的母亲,
珍惜大地生态资源,
留给我们的孩子一个干净的地球。

Full Text of Severn Suzuki’s speech at the U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992

Hello, I’m Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O. – The Environmental Children’s Organization.

We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference: Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.

Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come.

I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.

I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.

I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.

I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my dad, until just a few years ago, we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct every day – vanishing forever.

In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rain forests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.

Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age?

All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you!

  • You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.
  • You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream.
  • You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct.
  • And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert.

If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!

Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organisers, reporters or politicians – but really you are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles – and all of you are somebody’s child.

I’m only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil – borders and governments will never change that.

I’m only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.

In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.

In my country, we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to share, afraid to let go some of our wealth.

In Canada, we live the privileged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter – we have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets.

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. And this is what one child told us: “I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter and love and affection.”

If a child on the street who has nothing, is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?

I can’t stop thinking that these children are my own age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the favellas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia; a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.

I’m only a child yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this earth would be!

At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us to behave in the world. You teach us:

  • not to fight with others,
  • to work things out,
  • to respect others,
  • to clean up our mess,
  • not to hurt other creatures
  • to share – not be greedy.

Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

Do not forget why you’re attending these conferences, who you’re doing this for – we are your own children. You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying “everything’s going to be alright”, “it’s not the end of the world”, and “we’re doing the best we can”.

But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says “You are what you do, not what you say.”

Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown ups say you love us. But I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words. Thank you.

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Quotes
Tags:

I do not underestimate the perils threatening industrial society, though I think that some of the people who warn us about environmental crisis have got their perspectives wrong. Indeed, I think they are wrong to call it a crisis at all. A crisis is a situation that will pass; it can be resolved by temporary hardship, temporary adjustment, technological and political expedients. What we are experiencing is not a crisis, it is a climacteric. For the rest of man’s history on earth, so far as one can foretell, he will have to live with problems of population, of resources, of pollution. And the seminal problem remains unsolved: Can man adapt himself to anticipate environmental constraints? Or will he (like other animal societies) adapt himself only in response to the constraints after they have begun to hurt?

– Eric Ashby, Speech at Stanford University in 1978

Posted: May 24, 2011 in Quotes
Tags: ,

The development of civilization, an exceptionally rapid event on the time scale of geological history, has radically changed the outlook for the future existence of the biosphere.

– M.L. Budyko

Posted: March 16, 2011 in Quotes
Tags:

One can start from the perspective of a religious naturalist or from the perspective of the world religions and arrive at the same place: a moral imperative that this Earth and its creatures be respected and cherished.

– Ursula Goodenough

 

Quotes by Gerald Durrell

Posted: January 6, 2011 in Quotes
Tags: ,

The attitude of the average person to the world they live in is completely selfish. When I take people round to see my animals, one of the first questions they ask (unless the animal is cute and appealing) is, “what use is it?” by which they mean, “what use is it to them?” To this one can reply “What use is the Acropolis?” Does a creature have to be of direct material use to mankind in order to exist? By and large, by asking the question “what use is it?” you are asking the animal to justify its existence without having justified your own.

We have inherited an incredibly beautiful and complex garden, but the trouble is that we have been appallingly bad gardeners. We have not bothered to acquaint ourselves with the simplest principles of gardening. By neglecting our garden, we are storing up for ourselves, in the not very distant future, a world catastrophe as bad as any atomic war, and we are doing it with all the bland complacency of an idiot child chopping up a Rembrandt with a pair of scissors. We go on, year after year, all over the world, creating dust bowls and erosion, cutting down forests and overgrazing our grasslands, polluting one of our most vital commodities — water — with industrial filth and all the time we are breeding with the ferocity of the Brown Rat, and wondering why there is not enough food to go round. We now stand so aloof from nature that we think we are God. This has always been a dangerous supposition.

Firstly what does conservation mean? It is not merely the saving from extinction of such species as the Notornis, the Leadbetters Possum or the Leathery Turtle; this is important work but it is only part of the problem. You cannot begin to preserve any species of animal unless you preserve the habitat in which it dwells. Disturb or destroy that habitat and you will exterminate the species as surely as if you had shot it. So conservation means that you have to preserve forest and grassland, river and lake, even the sea itself. This is not only vital for the preservation of animal life generally, but for the future existence of man himself — a point that seems to escape many people.

There is no first world and third world. There is only one world, for all of us to live and delight in.

  • The Forest Service is truly an extraordinary institution.
    • A lot of people, seeing that word forest in the title, assume it has something to do with looking after trees.
    • These were not intended to be parks. Private companies would be granted leases to extract minerals and harvest timber, but they would be required to do so in a restrained, intelligent, sustainable way.
    • In fact, mostly what the Forest Service does is build road.
      • There are 378,000 miles of roads in America’s national forests – 8 times the total mileage of America’s interstate highway system.
      • It is the largest road system in the world in the control of a single body.
      • The reason the Forest Service builds these roads is to allow private timber companies to get to previously inaccessible stands of trees.
    • What it delicately calls “scientific forestry” – clear-cutting to you and me – is not only a brutal visual affront to any landscape but brings huge, reckless washoffs that gully the soil, robbing it of nutrients and disrupting ecologies farther downstream, sometimes for miles. This isn’t science. This is rape.
    • 80% of its leasing arrangements lost money, often vast amounts.
      • In one typical deal, the Forest Service sold hundred-year-old lodgepole pines in the Targhee National Forest in Idaho for about $2 each after spending $4 per tree surveying the land, drawing up contracts, and, of course, building roads.
    • Between 1989 and 1997, it lost an average of $242 million a year.
  • Appalachian Trail is deprivation, that the whole point of the experience is to remove yourself so thoroughly from the conveniences of everyday life that the most ordinary things – processed cheese, a can of pop gorgeously beaded with condensation – fill you with wonder and gratitude.
  • The National Park Service actually has something of a tradition of making things extinct.
    • Altogether, 42 species of mammal have disappeared from America’s national park this century.
    • Today the National Park Service employs a more casual approach to endangering wildlife: neglect.
      • It spends almost nothing – less than 3% of its budget – on research of any type, which is why no one knows how many mussels are extinct or even why they are going extinct.
    • Ask a park official what they are doing about it and he will say, “We are monitoring the situation closely.” For this, read: “We are watch them die.”
    • In 1991, as its trees were dying, its buildings crumbling, its visitors being turned away from campgrounds it could not afford to keep open, and its employees being laid off in record numbers, the National Park Service threw a 75th anniversary party for itself in Vail, Colorado. It spent $500,000 on the event.
  • For all its mass, a tree is a remarkably delicate thing.
    • All of its internal life exists within three paper-thin layers of tissue – the phloem, xylem, and cambium – just beneath the bark, which together form a moist sleeve around the dead heartwood.
    • These three diligent layers of cells perform all the intricate science and engineering needed to keep a tree alive, and the efficiency with which they do it is one of the wonders of life.
    • However tall it grows, a tree is just a few pounds of living cells thinly spread between roots and leaves.

Some 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this appeal in November 1992. The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity was written and spearheaded by the late Henry Kendall, former chair of UCS‘s board of directors.

INTRODUCTION

Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.

THE ENVIRONMENT

The environment is suffering critical stress:

The Atmosphere

Stratospheric ozone depletion threatens us with enhanced ultraviolet radiation at the earth’s surface, which can be damaging or lethal to many life forms. Air pollution near ground level, and acid precipitation, are already causing widespread injury to humans, forests, and crops.

Water Resources

Heedless exploitation of depletable ground water supplies endangers food production and other essential human systems. Heavy demands on the world’s surface waters have resulted in serious shortages in some 80 countries, containing 40 percent of the world’s population. Pollution of rivers, lakes, and ground water further limits the supply.

Oceans

Destructive pressure on the oceans is severe, particularly in the coastal regions which produce most of the world’s food fish. The total marine catch is now at or above the estimated maximum sustainable yield. Some fisheries have already shown signs of collapse. Rivers carrying heavy burdens of eroded soil into the seas also carry industrial, municipal, agricultural, and livestock waste – some of it toxic.

Soil

Loss of soil productivity, which is causing extensive land abandonment, is a widespread by-product of current practices in agriculture and animal husbandry. Since 1945, 11 percent of the earth’s vegetated surface has been degraded – an area larger than India and China combined – and per capita food production in many parts of the world is decreasing.

Forests

Tropical rain forests, as well as tropical and temperate dry forests, are being destroyed rapidly. At present rates, some critical forest types will be gone in a few years, and most of the tropical rain forest will be gone before the end of the next century. With them will go large numbers of plant and animal species.

Living Species

The irreversible loss of species, which by 2100 may reach one-third of all species now living, is especially serious. We are losing the potential they hold for providing medicinal and other benefits, and the contribution that genetic diversity of life forms gives to the robustness of the world’s biological systems and to the astonishing beauty of the earth itself. Much of this damage is irreversible on a scale of centuries, or permanent. Other processes appear to pose additional threats. Increasing levels of gases in the atmosphere from human activities, including carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning and from deforestation, may alter climate on a global scale. Predictions of global warming are still uncertain – with projected effects ranging from tolerable to very severe – but the potential risks are very great.

Our massive tampering with the world’s interdependent web of life – coupled with the environmental damage inflicted by deforestation, species loss, and climate change – could trigger widespread adverse effects, including unpredictable collapses of critical biological systems whose interactions and dynamics we only imperfectly understand.

Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats.

POPULATION

The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth’s limits. Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair.

Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth. A World Bank estimate indicates that world population will not stabilize at less than 12.4 billion, while the United Nations concludes that the eventual total could reach 14 billion, a near tripling of today’s 5.4 billion. But, even at this moment, one person in five lives in absolute poverty without enough to eat, and one in ten suffers serious malnutrition.

No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.

WARNING

We the undersigned, senior members of the world’s scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.

WHAT WE MUST DO

Five inextricably linked areas must be addressed simultaneously:

  • We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on.
    • We must, for example, move away from fossil fuels to more benign, inexhaustible energy sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our air and water. Priority must be given to the development of energy sources matched to Third World needs -small-scale and relatively easy to implement.
    • We must halt deforestation, injury to and loss of agricultural land, and the loss of terrestrial and marine plant and animal species.
  • We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively.
    • We must give high priority to efficient use of energy, water, and other materials, including expansion of conservation and recycling.
  • We must stabilize population.
    • This will be possible only if all nations recognize that it requires improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.
  • We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty. We must ensure sexual equality, and guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions.
  • DEVELOPED NATIONS MUST ACT NOW
    • The developed nations are the largest polluters in the world today. They must greatly reduce their overconsumption, if we are to reduce pressures on resources and the global environment. The developed nations have the obligation to provide aid and support to developing nations, because only the developed nations have the financial resources and the technical skills for these tasks. Acting on this recognition is not altruism, but enlightened self-interest: whether industrialized or not, we all have but one lifeboat. No nation can escape from injury when global biological systems are damaged. No nation can escape from conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. In addition, environmental and economic instabilities will cause mass migrations with incalculable consequences for developed and undeveloped nations alike. Developing nations must realize that environmental damage is one of the gravest threats they face, and that attempts to blunt it will be overwhelmed if their populations go unchecked. The greatest peril is to become trapped in spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic, and environmental collapse.
    • Success in this global endeavor will require a great reduction in violence and war. Resources now devoted to the preparation and conduct of war – amounting to over $1 trillion annually – will be badly needed in the new tasks and should be diverted to the new challenges.
    • A new ethic is required – a new attitude towards discharging our responsibility for caring for ourselves and for the earth. We must recognize the earth’s limited capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes.

The scientists issuing this warning hope that our message will reach and affect people everywhere. We need the help of many.

We require the help of the world community of scientists – natural, social, economic, and political.

We require the help of the world’s business and industrial leaders.

We require the help of the world’s religious leaders.

We require the help of the world’s peoples.

We call on all to join us in this task.