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Earth in Our Care

Earth in Our Care: Ecology, Economy, and Sustainability

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 298
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  • Book Info
    Earth in Our Care
    Book Description:

    "What about the twenty-first century? Will we finally accept our responsibilities as guardians of planet Earth, the biological living trust, for the beneficiaries, the children of today, tomorrow, and beyond? Or, will it too be a century of lethal, economic struggle among the polarized positions of the supremely dysfunctional among us? Are they-once again-to be allowed to determine the legacy we, as a society, as a nation, bequeath those who follow us? The choice is ours, the adults of the world. How shall we choose?"

    So writes Chris Maser in this compelling study of three interactive spheres of the ecosystem: atmosphere (air), litho-hydrosphere (rock that comprises the restless continents and the water that surrounds them), and biosphere (all life sandwiched in between).

    Rich in detail and insightful analogies,Earth in Our Careaddresses key issues including land-use policies, ecological restoration, forest management, local living, and sustainability thinking. Exploring our interconnectedness with the Earth, Maser examines today's problems and, more importantly, provides solutions for the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4858-6
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Okechukwu Ukaga

    Earth’s social, environmental, and economic fabric is being threatened from all sides by such challenges as global warming, violence, poverty, and general environmental degradation caused by unsustainable use of Earth’s resources. Nations in the West, whose economies became industrialized early, bear the brunt of responsibility for damage done to the environment so far. Nevertheless, as densely populated countries, like China, India, and Brazil, quickly transition to technology-based, consumer economies, demands for Earth’s resources might reach a breaking point.

    As Chris Maser puts it, fulfilling our obligation as environmental trustees of Earth as a biological living trust requires fundamental changes in...

    (pp. xi-xvi)
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Although planet Earth reveals its secrets slowly, we now have far more knowledge of the world in which we live than did our forbearers. Therefore, we not only have greater opportunities than they did but also are confronted with greater responsibilities because we are now part of an interconnected global society, whether or not we fully understand the idea or even like it. Just as their decisions set the stage for our reality, our decisions will determine the options of tomorrow and write the history of yesterday.

    If humanity is to survive this century and beyond with any semblance of...

  7. 1 Of Ignorance and Knowledge
    (pp. 5-24)

    Although ignorance is thought of as the lack of knowledge, there is more to it than that. Our sense of the world and our place in it is couched in terms of what we are sure we know and what we think we know. Our universities and laboratories are filled with searching minds, and our libraries are bulging with the fruits of our exploding knowledge, yet where is there an accounting of our ignorance?

    Ignorance is not okay in our fast-moving world. We are chastised from the time we are infants until the time we die for not knowing an...

  8. 2 Our Ever-Changing Landscape Patterns
    (pp. 25-55)

    There are single-minded, idealistic people who perceive us humans merely as a blight on the face of the Earth, a species whose sole purpose appears to be the despoliation of the planet. We, however, have a right to be here by the very fact that we exist as an inseparable part of the global ecosystem. In this sense, what we do is natural, despite the fact that our actions are often shortsighted, unwise, and destructive.

    Nevertheless, I submit that people’s destructive behavior is born not of intentional malice but rather of their unconscious, yet palpable fear of living in a...

  9. 3 How Species Enrich Our Lives and the World
    (pp. 56-85)

    Since the first living cell or cells came into being, nothing living has ever again been alone on planet Earth because life has kept life company. Although this statement is true in the abstract sense on the physical plane, it is not true in the psychological realm. Here, the paradox is that even though we are compelled to share our life’s experiences with one another to know we exist and have value, we are forever well and truly alone with each and every thought, each and every experience in our own never-ending stories, from birth to death.

    A baby comes...

  10. 4 The Never-Ending Stories of Cause, Effect, and Change
    (pp. 86-116)

    Everything—living creatures, plants, air, water, rocks, time, and space,everything—exists in relationship to everything else. Each action you take is like dropping a pebble into a quiet pool of water. A pebble’s impact on the water’s surface creates concentric rings flowing outward from the center, touching everything in their path. The farther the rings travel from the epicenter, the wider and more diffuse they become. Sharp eyes might catch their visual disappearance, but no witness will observe their ultimate dissipation because the rings continue to exist in everything they have touched.

    As the rings of cause flow outward...

  11. 5 Act Locally and Affect the Whole World
    (pp. 117-141)

    As a culture, we would do well to take an extended look in the rearview mirror at the degraded world we are leaving behind. Perhaps as a result of that closer look we might risk changing our minds about always seeking the unspoiled, which we then despoil; we might recognize a vast world waiting to be repaired—mended, as it were—in such a way as to once again yield up its wealth.

    And if we would take the time to examine how and why we treat one another as we do, we might find that intense competition, which we...

  12. 6 Repairing Ecosystems
    (pp. 142-197)

    Ecological restoration is the thought and the attempt to put something into a prior position, place, or condition. That much is clear enough. But why should we humans bother trying to put something back the way we perceive it to have been? Why try to go backward in time when society’s push is forward, always forward? The answer draws on two paradoxes: backward is sometimes forward, and slower is sometimes faster.

    In our drive to maximize the harvest of nature’s bounty, we—especially in the United States—typically strive for an ever-increasing yield of products, and we intensively alter more...

  13. 7 Where Do We Go from Here?
    (pp. 198-206)

    Although I could go on at length about what necessity dictates we adults of the world must do to fulfill our trusteeship of planet Earth as a biological living trust, I have, instead, selected two courses of action that we must simultaneously take if we are to bequeath a worthy legacy to those who are young and to those as yet unborn.

    Beginning now, we must start (1) to critically examine our situation today and (2) to determine where society needs to be at the end of this century if people are to have any kind of dignified life with...

    (pp. 207-216)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 217-246)
    (pp. 247-264)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 265-276)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-278)