Environmental Matters

(The human relationship to the natural order)


The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution, the whole book is permeated with an environmental and ecological perspective, but especially relevant are Chapter 1, "The Parable of the Tribes, " section 6 "The Mother of Invention" in Chapter 2, Chapter 4, "Human Nature and the Evaluation of Civilization," And the first section "Man's Dominion: Power and the Degradation of the Ecosystem" in Chapter 7.

Out of Weakness: Healing the Wounds that Drive Us to War, see Chapter 9, "The Search for a World Beyond Scarcity," for some reflections on the lessons that evolution teaches about how the way of survival is not so much about "winning over" as on "symbiosis with" one's environment.

The Illusion of Choice: How the Market Economy Shapes Our Destiny, see especially Chapter 5, "Devouring the Earth," although the ecological perspective runs as a steady stream through the whole of the book.

Fool's Gold: The Fate of Values in a World of Goods, see especially Chapter 5, "The Wages of Sin" and the "Finale: The Real Thing."


Op-Ed Articles

"How Great a Crime?" published, Baltimore Sun, 4/22/97.

I disagree with the ABC pundits who scorned Vice President Gore's comparing the Chinese crime at Tianamen Square with the American crime, in the nineteenth century, of slaughtering the American bison to the edge of extinction.

"The Mind of the Breadbaker," published, Christian Science Monitor, 6/7/96.

A meditation, inspired by the baking of bread, into the unfolding over the millennia of the relationship between human beings and the natural world: the same kind of marvelous insight and understanding that have made the miracle of breadbaking possible have also created great dangers for us and the planet.

"We Are Now the Flood," published, Baltimore Sun, 9/19/94.

A meditation --full of imagery-- on the problemmatic role of the human species in the biosphere. Will we destroy life around us, or will we, like Noah, be the means of life's survival and spread? At present, the role we are playing is not that of Noah; it is we who are the flood.

"Gloom and Doom or Smile and Denial," published, Baltimore Sun, 11/23/93.

Who are we to believe in the disputes over how much danger we face from such things as global warming? What seems most credible is that the greater distortions come from that side that tells us not to worry. And in any event, as with Pascal's famous wager, better to err in the direction of too much caution than too much recklessness.

"Manhood and the Fate of the Earth," published, Christian Science Monitor, 10/3/91.

Why are the same people who are willing to spend trillions to defend us against external enemies unwilling to sacrifice in self-restraint of our destruction of the planet we depend upon for our survival? The answer may lie in a traditional and narrow concept of what are the virtues that are important to manhood.

"Dear Church: Please Rethink Contraceptions," published, San Francisco Chronicle, approx. 1992.

An refutation of the Church's position that the intrusion of contraception into human sexuality is "unnatural": the evidence is clear that in humans, it is "natural" for sexuality to be about far more than reproduction; and if we are going to intrude technology to block the exit from life (in death), as we do, we must equally block the entrance or face environmental disaster from our unnatural imbalance with the planet.

"Why Are We Devouring the Earth," published, Harvard Center Report, 1990.

Why is it that, having so much material wealth by all historic standards, we still seem so hungry for more? Two dimensions of an answer --systemic (having to do with the dynamics of our economy) and psychological/spiritual (having to do with the roots of our sense of deprivation) are proposed.

Radio Shows

"Two Minds," broadcast, Morning Edition (WAMU-FM, Washington), 1994.

A reflection of the two different ways I find myself regarding my new home in the mountains, one as a piece of property whose value I'd like to see appreciate, and the other as a special piece of earth whose value (in a non-economic sense) will be eroded by the same forces that would drive up its price.

"The Dells," broadcast on All Things Considered(NPR), 1985.

On how a sacred place gets treated when seen through a purely economic perspective, which treats the earth as private property to be used for gain.

"The Sacredness of the Natural Order," began broadcast call-in conversation on WSVA Radio, 1994.

I put forward --for discussion-- the depth of my passion for the sanctity of the natural order, and my feeling that we do not treat it with nearly the care and reverence that it deserves.