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The Most Important Subject

November 22, 2010 – My long-ago introduction to caring about the world around me was bird watching. From there I quickly moved on to conservation. At some point during the late ‘70’s I learned about global warming and its attendant problems. Jimmy Carter made his famous malaise speech. I kept on reading. By the early 80’s, it had been made apparent to anyone who cared to pay attention that Ronald Reagan had no intention of doing anything about global warming, other than (allegedly) studying it. I began writing letters to elected officials, insisting upon the urgency of the matter. It was at about this juncture that I discovered an amazing organization called The Worldwatch Institute, and decided that I wanted to subscribe to their papers. My global warming education was truly underway.

Before going on, let me urge anyone reading this blog to avail themselves of this treasure trove of information. The Worldwatch Institute can be found on the web at These days, they not only continue to publish their invaluable papers, they also issue a magazine every other month, along with their annual State of the World volumes. These publications are essential reading for anyone concerned about the state of the natural world, and about our place in it.

Lester Brown, founder of the Institute, was and is the most prescient of men. Today, anyone who has followed the subject of climate change for longer than a year or two is unsurprised by titles such as Renewable Revolution: Low Carbon Energy by 2030, or Global Environmental Change: The Threat to Human Health, two recently issued reports. But back in 1985, papers with titles like Six Steps to a Sustainable Society and Whole-Earth Security: A Geopolitics of Peace were regarded as forward looking indeed. By 1990, those of us who followed the Institute’s research came to regard Alternatives to the Automobile: Transport for Livable Cities, Discarding the Throwaway Society, and Taking Stock: Animal Farming and the Environment as merely logical. It was easy to lose sight of how unprepared the vast majority of Americans remained for the colossal changes ahead.

Most of these papers remain available for purchase. They average about 50-70 pages, and cost $9.95 each. The papers are numbered; no. 183 has just been published. To further whet your appetite, here are some intriguing titles from the last five years:

#144 Mind Over Matter: Recasting the Role of Materials in our Lives
#153 Why Poison Ourselves? A Precautionary Approach to
Synthetic Chemicals
#158 Unnatural Disasters
#162 The Anatomy of Resource Wars
#171 Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry

Educate yourself about this most important of all subjects. You’ll be doing yourself, and future generations, a big favor.


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