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E.O. Wilson chats about his new book on the intersection of science and religion
David Roberts, Grist
In 1967, E.O. Wilson coauthored the book that founded island biogeography, a new field of scientific study. He could have retired then with a distinguished record.
Instead, in the ensuing four decades, he’s gone on to discover hundreds of new species, generate major advances in entomology, win the National Medal of Science and two Pulitzers, found yet another field of scientific study (sociobiology), and build bridges both between sciences and out of science to the humanities…
In his latest book, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, he turns that gentle, respectful attention to a Southern Baptist pastor, pleading for help in the fight to preserve what’s left of living nature.
Q: What prompted you to write a letter to a pastor?
A: I was raised a Southern Baptist and rooted in that culture. I drifted away, but I understood it, and I enjoyed returning to it. It felt natural. The people are wonderful.
The main reason was that the reality finally dawned on me that the conservation movement in this country was being pressed by a rather small minority of people, most of whom are secular or liberal-religious. The vast majority of Americans are Judeo-Christian, many of those evangelical, [and they] are unconnected to the problems of conservation, especially global conservation, the loss of ecosystems and species which we have so well documented. It’s too remote to them. It’s not like global climate change — they understand that now, they care about it. It’s not like pollution — that’s obvious.
Here is a problem of great magnitude, and the losses caused by it are not reversible. I realized that it’s only when you can engage a larger part of the population that we’ll ever get any action on global conservation, as opposed to local in the United States. It further dawned on me that calling upon the great religious and primarily Judeo-Christian population of America, using the evangelicals apostrophically (that is, as a group to address) might get the kind of support most needed to start the process going, just through sheer numbers and moral energy and intensity.
That was the reason. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner, why others haven’t done it first. To offer a hand of friendship out of science, and out of the secular scientist community, in a tone of respect and caring. This is the only way to proceed, I think.
(17 Oct 2006)
The latest in Grist’s series on God and the Envrionment.
Seattle City Light fights climate change (Video and transcript)
As Congress and the Bush administration continue to debate a federal policy on climate change, local governments are taking the initiative and setting up their own programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During today’s OnPoint, Jorge Carrasco, superintendent of Seattle City Light, discusses his city’s efforts to reverse the effects of climate change. Carrasco discusses a proposal to be voted on this year that will create a renewable portfolio standard for Washington. He also talks about the efforts Seattle companies are making to offset their carbon emissions.
(18 Oct 2006)
While the nation’s leaders twiddle their thumbs, local groups and businesses are forging ahead. -BA
Green living takes root in Sweden
Laurence Peter, BBC
“Western Harbour” is not the most romantic name for a pioneering ecological housing development – but then Sweden is pursuing green goals with more pragmatism than flamboyance.
Sustainability is the motto of the Western Harbour (Vaestra Hamnen) project in the southern city of Malmo.
There are futuristic buildings sporting massive glass windows and glinting solar panels.
But turn a corner and you find a green courtyard with a little pond and some modest timber structures that remind you of Swedish villages.
(9 Oct 2006)
Integrating Energy, Transportation and Land Use
peakguy, The Oil Drum: New York City
It’s impossible to think of ways of curing our overwhelming addiction to oil and other fossil fuels or significantly cutting our greenhouse gas emissions just through altering the source of our primary energy production. If one truly wants to achieve greater efficiencies and demand reductions, you have to start including two important policy areas: Transportation and Land Use.
(1 Oct 2006)
The current mantra of “living green” seems to have everything to do with increased consumption of goods and services when it should in fact be the reverse.
Big business and marketing have taken over the “green living” parade, and are leading consumers down the 6 lane highway, while the rest of us who care about the environment and sustainability are left back at main street with our milk crate podiums and megaphones, preaching to the choir.
(15 Oct 2006)