ECOLOGICAL DIVERSITY IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The Vital and Forgotten Dimension
FOREWORD: In his usual well-written, entertaining, and clear style, Chris Maser once again has produced a writing likely to generate considerable dialogue among all “stakeholders” of our global natural resources. From industry, environmental, and political leaders to researcher, entrepreneurs, and community activists—Maser provides no escape for any of us in our responsibilities to acknowledge and work toward achieving long-term ecological diversity.
If the author’s cited case studies are any example, achieving ecological diversity is not only a hugely daunting task but also one for which humans, especially Western civilization, have little talent (versus skill). We concentrate far too much on product versus process, on abundance versus balance, on science versus nature, on machine versus man. Our vision tends toward the myopic, and our focus in thought and action is (all too often) short term.
I, for one, am less critical of Western civilization on these matters. And while there will always be exceptions throughout time, I believe we as humans will always strive to make the right choices—to do the right thing—not only for ourselves but also for future civilizations. I also believe that in order to make those right choices, we must consistently and persuasively be reminded of the consequences and the what ifs—as they have unfolded in the past, as they will occur again in the future, without our due diligence. It is this that Maser does so well.
Do not expect to feel comfortable about the issues and examples raised in Maser’s work. You will not. Do not expect to find solutions neatly spelled out for you. They are not there. Rather, expect to be challenged, to struggle, to debate, to create. ‘Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development: The Vital and Forgotten Dimension’ is a book you will remember.
Catherine M. Mater , Vice President Mater Engineering, Ltd., Corvallis, Oregon.
Mt. Jefferson, Oregon
“I emerge, after every encounter with Chris Maser, enlightened, sober with realization and responsibilities, yet hopeful for and ready to meet the future. Reading Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development is nearly as profound as seeing Chris in person. In this, his latest work, Maser, an environmental mediator and author of more than 250 works, has given us a useful guide to understanding ecology, to accepting and mitigating the harm we have caused to the planet, and to creating the future of our dearest visions.
“Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development is an odyssey that takes us from the cocoa plantations of Costa Rica to the Columbia River in Oregon, traces the natural history of our planet, and introduces us through delightful anecdotes to native peoples—from the Tlingit and Shoshone of North America to the Yanomami of Brazil and the Nubians of Egypt. We learn the importance of driftwood, of fertile soil and rat and tree branches and fungi and fish and insects. Maser focuses on such issues as global warming, pesticide use, forest clear-cutting, genetic engineering—gently nudging us, compelling us like a well-intentioned and honest friend, to take a frank look at the consequences of our practices:
“‘We are so adaptable that we have changed the world more than any species before us, and we continue to do so. Through our incredible adaptability, we are causing changes in the world that are proving to be deleterious to the health and sustainability of our very life-support system.’ (p. 175)
A tenacious plant in the Valley of Fire, Nevada
“Although the book can be absorbed by any lay person, Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development is not for the faint of brain. It is a sophisticated discussion demanding that we think, we examine, and we learn. Are we restoring or harming our ecosystem by removing non-native vegetation? What climate changes can we expect in the future? What are our ‘rights’ to the land and its resources? What are our responsibilities? Maser exposes not only the travesties wrought by short-sighted and profit-oriented resource exploitation but also those caused by our well-meaning but misguided actions.
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
“There is, in Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development, the theme of responsibility to future generations that permeates all of Maser’s work—the familiar call to the deepest conscience, the highest ethic within each of us. And once again Maser offers possible solutions—and hope. If we are serious about wanting a quality lifestyle, he states, ‘We begin by rectifying some obvious, human-created problems with honest intentions and honest decisions (p. 338).’”—Katherine Knight, The Santa Cruz Comic News, July 29, 1999.
A tiger beetle (Photo by Dave Pearson)
“Chris Maser’s book, ‘Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development’ is a fascinating treatise on the interrelatedness of all things and the importance of diversity in healthy ecosystems. During the past year I have found it an invaluable resource for promoting discussion and developing critical thinking skills among my biology students. I also used it as a guide for discussions among our ‘Talented And Gifted’, as well as any other student who was willing to spend their personal time, discussing scientific issues every two weeks during lunch. As the core reading material for many of these sessions ‘Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development’ sparked more student interest and involvement than in any other year. So non-TAG students began attending the discussions and by years end I had more students involved than would fit in my classroom! The draw was due, in part, to Chris’ fascinating and casual method of writing as well as to the integration of human history, philosophy, natural history, weather, and other areas of science into the intricate web of ecological sustainability.”—Clair Thomas, Lakeview High School, Lakeview, Oregon.
Unless otherwise noted, Photos © by Chris Maser, 2009. All rights reserved.
Ecological Diversity in Sustainable Development: The Vital and Forgotten Dimension. 1999. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 402 pp.
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