Categories
Ecotopia writing

Ecopsychology

Restoring the Earth
Healing the Mind

Edited by Theodore Roszak, Mary E. Gomes and Allen D. Kanner
Reviewed by Don Weiss

Millions of American children have been diagnosed with a disease called Attention Deficit Disorder. In its classic form, it is the inability to concentrate on whatever society thinks the child should be paying attention to at the moment — usually schoolwork or adults. These children are often punished for their behavior, which is considered both “anti-social” (by definition) and counterproductive since the child should probably be learning something rather than letting his (ADD is usually a diagnosis for boys) attention wander.

Categories
Ecotopia writing

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

by John Steinbeck
Reviewed by Don Weiss

Steinbeck is best known as the author of The Grapes of Wrath, which brought him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. But he was also an enthusiastic marine biologist. In fact, he studied marine biology at Stanford, though he left there without graduating. It was only later, when he became a friend of Ed Ricketts, that he became active as a collector of marine specimens for Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories, which Steinbeck helped keep afloat financially when times were tough.

In the spring of 1940, Steinbeck and Ricketts hired a Monterey Bay fishing boat, The Western Flyer, and cruised through the Gulf of California (AKA The Sea of Cortez) on a collecting trip. Steinbeck and Ricketts then produced a book, Sea of Cortez, of which the narrative section is normally reprinted as The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

Categories
Ecotopia writing

Ecology, A Pocket Guide

by Ernest Callenbach
Reviewed by Don Weiss

Wallace Stegner once called ecology “a harder form of literacy” than reading and despaired of teaching the American public to change its ways. Ernest Callenbach, author of the famous novel Ecotopia and many other works, thinks this is an unduly negative view and provides one of the tools we can use to educate one another about ecology — a new book called Ecology, A Pocket Guide. It’s a book both timely and, for us at the Ecology Hall of Fame, particularly comforting.

When we started the Ecology Hall of Fame, we put out the word on the internet, asking for nominations, suggestions and comments. Of the emails that came back to us, several argued that our basic concept was flawed. The writers felt we were misusing the term “ecology.” It was, they argued, a scientific term with no implications for social action, a non-philosophic concept. They said what we were creating was an “environmental movement hall of fame” and asked that we change the name.

Categories
Ecotopia writing

The Moral Equivalent of War [William James]

by William James

This essay, based on a speech delivered at Stanford University in 1906, is the origin of the idea of organized national service. The line of descent runs directly from this address to the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps to the Peace Corps, VISTA, and AmeriCorps. Though some phrases grate upon modern ears, particularly the assumption that only males can perform such service, several racially-biased comments, and the notion that the main form of service should be viewed as a “warfare against nature,” it still sounds a rallying cry for service in the interests of the individual and the nation.

The war against war is going to be no holiday excursion or camping party. The military feelings are too deeply grounded to abdicate their place among our ideals until better substitutes are offered than the glory and shame that come to nations as well as to individuals from the ups and downs of politics and the vicissitudes of trade. There is something highly paradoxical in the modern man’s relation to war. Ask all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now (were such a thing possible) to have our war for the Union expunged from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes. Those ancestors, those efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood poured out. Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing, in cold blood, to start another civil war now to gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote for the proposition. In modern eyes, precious though wars may be they must not be waged solely for the sake of the ideal harvest. Only when forced upon one, is a war now thought permissible.

Categories
Ecotopia writing

Walking

by Henry David Thoreau

This essay was presented as a lecture by Thoreau in his later years but only published after his death. It’s best known quote, “In wildness is the preservation of the world,” has become one of the rallying cries of the environmental movement. But Thoreau means much more by the phrase than most of his modern admirers realize. “Wildness” is Nature itself, and Man is seen as an aspect or manifestation of Nature. The rules that apply to one apply to the other. This is, in fact, one of the three seminal works of the environmental movement, the other two being Emerson’s Nature and George Perkins Marsh’s Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action.