Deconstruct to Reconstruct

Earlier this week I caught the tail end of an interview with Paul R. Ehrlich, on NPR. He recently published the article Securing National Capital and Expanding Equity to Rescale Civilization in the journal Nature. If Ehrlich’s name sounds familiar to you, he wrote what was touted as the “doom and gloom” tour de force, Population Bomb, in the 60’s. A professor at Stanford University, Ehrlich is considered the world’s expert on population growth, and it’s potential run away train impact on our survival.

The article is behind a paywall, so I encourage you to click on that first link for the interview. You can listen to it in full, as well as read the transcript. Not only is the information disturbing and heavy…we have hit overpopulation, we are headed for collapse and no-one is listening…but Ehrlich’s approach is also inspiring and humorous. He speaks to the need to deconstruct our industrialization to reconstruct a sustainable world. This new world includes cold beer, sex and more time to smell the flowers. Sign me up.

Ehrlich co-wrote the article with Peter Kareiva and Gretchen Daily. Kareiva is the chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy, and was recently quoted in an interview about the article,

Tomorrow’s nature will be wildly different than anything our parents grew up with. Coyotes that have acquired wolf genes will be regularly taking down deer in places they never before lived. Buffalo may be roaming on grasslands amidst fields of wind turbines. Abandoned unproductive farmland may be a mishmash of non-native and native trees and called a county park. This is not cause for mourning. Instead, we should be energized by the fact that just as we have never had so much power to destroy nature, we have also never had so much knowledge and information to design the future of nature in a way that sustains and inspires.

It can be easy to isolate myself from the edginess that is the disintegration of the old paradigm, the decaying of “our world”. Sometimes I go in and out of consciousness around it, often taking a break when the stark reality of the conundrum becomes too painful to sit with. I am grateful for articles like this that prod me back into awareness, and also leave me with enough curiousity to wonder how we might respond to the challenges before us.

However, it is also summer. And summer means popsicles. So the way I respond to that is by pouring left-over smoothy into our freezer popsicle makers.

As always, I stay awake, responsive and responsible, for her. What global crises will she face in her adulthood? Whatever it is, I want her to be able to do it with clean air, clean water, food and…popsicles.


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