Category Archives: Anthropocene

The Northern Bobwhite Calls for a New Ethic

For the past few weeks we have heard a Northern Bobwhite singing in our neighborhood. This is a bird we associate with Southern New England, so we were surprised to hear it in Eastern Maine.  My first thought was,  here is yet another bird whose range has moved north in response to climate change, a […]

Lessons from Japan for Imagining Sustainable De-growth

Cornell University ecologist David Pimentel and colleagues estimated that the earth might be able to sustain only 2 billion people by the end of the fossil fuel era.  There are about 7.5 billion humans on the planet right now.  It seems counterintuitive that there is nearly 4 times the sustainable population now living on the […]

Rewilding Maine’s Southern Beaches

Before last weekend, the last time I had spent any time on Maine’s Southern beaches was a field trip for a geology class in my first year of college (don’t ask the year).  Professor Hussey used the trip to immerse us in the patterns of coastal geology.  In early April we spent a couple of […]

When Did We Stop Worrying About Population Growth?

In the environmental debates of the 1970s, one common name hurled at environmentalists was to call them “neo-Malthusians.”   This dismissive insult was meant to imply that the concern for environmental issues was nothing more than the contemporary application of the failed analysis of Thomas Malthus (1766-1834).  Malthus was a classical economist in the tradition of […]

What It Means When Humans Impoverish Nature

In Henry Beston’s eloquent classic of nature writing, The Outermost House, he worried about the decline in birds he was seeing on the Great Beach of Cape Cod.  Even in the 1920s when he spent his year on the Beach, humans were adversely impacting birds and other parts of nature.  Beston identified a “new” danger:   […]

312 & 2,600,000,000

I am inspired by students from Dalhousie University in Halifax who have been getting tattoos.  These are simple tattoos, just three digits, placed somewhere conspicuous.  The number is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere in their birth year.  Were I inclined to get a tattoo, mine would be 319. Since my birth […]

Biomass Energy and Climate Change

The new administration in Washington is filled with climate change deniers.  They reject the consensus among scientists that human behaviors emitting greenhouse gases contribute significantly to climate change.  The reality — climate change is part of a larger problem better known as global change.  Over 9 billion humans, many living relatively sumptuous lifestyles like ours […]

The Wilderness Ethic

In many faith communities it is common for adherents to sacrifice.  The Shakers embraced celibacy, though some might find that a flawed “business plan” for the endurance of the sect.  Catholics for years avoided eating meat on Fridays, a practice good for fish mongers. Likewise, many Jews and Muslims forsake pork in their diets.  Dietary […]