Monday, October 1, 2012 by Common Dreams
Barry Commoner, Pioneering Environmental Scientist and Activist, Dies at 95
by Peter Dreier
Barry Commoner, a founder of modern ecology and one of its most provocative thinkers and mobilizers, died Sunday, September 30, 2012 in Manhattan. He was 95 and lived in Brooklyn Heights. His wife, Lisa Feiner, confirmed his death. (Time Magazine cover from February 2, 1970) Described in 1970 by Time magazine as the “Paul Revere of ecology,” Commoner followed Rachel Carson as America’s most prominent modern environmentalist. He viewed the environmental crisis as a symptom of a fundamentally flawed economic and social system. A biologist and research scientist, he argued that corporate greed, misguided government priorities, and the misuse of technology undermined “the finely sculptured fit between life and its surroundings.”
David Shukman visits the Ny-Alesund research base in Svalbard. Scientists in the Arctic are warning that this summer’s record-breaking melt is part of an accelerating trend with profound implications.
Norwegian researchers report that the sea ice is becoming significantly thinner and more vulnerable.
Last month, the annual thaw of the region’s floating ice reached the lowest level since satellite monitoring began, more than 30 years ago.
It is thought the scale of the decline may even affect Europe’s weather.
The melt is set to continue for at least another week – the peak is usually reached in mid-September – while temperatures here remain above freezing.
The Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) is at the forefront of Arctic research and its international director, Kim Holmen, told the BBC that the speed of the melting was faster than expected.
“It is a greater change than we could even imagine 20 years ago, even 10 years ago,” Dr Holmen said.
“And it has taken us by surprise and we must adjust our understanding of the system and we must adjust our science and we must adjust our feelings for the nature around us.”
The institute has been deploying its icebreaker, Lance, to research conditions between Svalbard and Greenland – the main route through which ice flows out of the Arctic Ocean.
During a visit to the port, one of the scientists involved, Dr Edmond Hansen, told me he was “amazed” at the size and speed of this year’s melt.
“As a scientist, I know that this is unprecedented in at least as much as 1,500 years. It is truly amazing – it is a huge dramatic change in the system,” Dr Hansen said.
“This is not some short-lived phenomenon – this is an ongoing trend. You lose more and more ice and it is accelerating – you can just look at the graphs, the observations, and you can see what’s happening.”
Forum on Religion and Ecology
The Forum on Religion and Ecology is the largest international multireligious project of its kind. With its conferences, publications, and website it is engaged in exploring religious worldviews, texts, and ethics in order to broaden understanding of the complex nature of current environmental concerns.
The Forum recognizes that religions need to be in dialogue with other disciplines (e.g., science, ethics, economics, education, public policy, gender) in seeking comprehensive solutions to both global and local environmental problems.
Institutional support for the Forum includes: The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale Divinity School, Yale Center for Bioethics, Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies, the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation, the Germeshausen Foundation, the Kendeda Sustainability Fund, and the Thomas Berry Foundation.
Harvard Kennedy School Professor William Clark (from left), Rebecca Henderson of Harvard Business School, and John Spengler of the Harvard School of Public Health were three of the panelists who gathered to discuss “The Legacy of Silent Spring.”
‘Silent Spring,’ 50 years on
Environmentalists, faculty mark lessons of Carson’s seminal book
By Alvin Powell
Harvard Staff Writer
Monday, October 1, 2012
“This was a book, in some ways, that really changed at least the U.S. and perhaps even the world,” said Daniel Schrag, director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, who hosted “Science and Advocacy: The Legacy of Silent Spring” at Sanders Theatre.
Writer Rachel Carson’s feared “silent spring” — the nightmare scenario in which widespread chemical spraying wipes out insects and the birds that feed on them —has not happened. But the world today faces no shortage of environmental challenges that demand the sort of intense energy and activism that she embodied…..
The contribution to the panel by Bill McKibben drew attention to the work of the Harvard Students for a Just and Sustainable Future (SJSF)Divest Harvard campaign.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
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