June 2010

A green plan to save the world

By Art Goodtimes

LANCE CHRISTIE … I’ve known this Moab resident and environmental guru for about as long as I've lived in Colorado — that's going on 30 years. He was one of the incorporators of Earth First! Foundation, along with his wife LaRue, who passed away two years ago … You’ve probably seen me quote in this column from the incredible alerts that he sends out periodically. His encyclopedic scan of scientific and environmental literature has been a huge resource for my understanding of current issues and possible answers to the huge social and ecological problems we face as a nation … Of course, Lance is much more than just a wise man. He was a founding member of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a lynchpin and officer of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, founder of the Association of the Tree of Life, a member of the Grand County Planning and Zoning Commission and a member of too many local organizations and task forces to list. Suffice it to say, he’s one of those Renaissance sages who thinks globally and acts locally … Most recently he's been recovering from the death of his wife and dealing with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I can say, without reservation, he’s one of the most brilliant thinkers I know, and as his friend Ray Wheeler characterizes him, a “warm, kind, fun-loving, teddy-bear of a guy, with a sparkling joie de vivre … That's why it’s so fitting that this past Earth Day came the announcement of the on-line release of his magnum opus, “The Renewable Deal for the United States of America” <www.earthrestoration. net/topics/view/34596>.



In '52 when the Life reporter
came for an interview
he found the famed Duchamp
camped in one bare room,
no kitchen & a shared bath.

Had wild Dada died?
Where were the nudes descending
in fractal cubes & clumps?
Where the bachelors even
with their chocolate stares?

In one's sixties,
simplicity trumps.

WHY IT MATTERS … Lance’s friend Ray Wheeler explains why Christie’s masterwork is so important coming at this point in America's history … “At the dawn of the 21st century, the critical infrastructure of life on Earth has been catastrophically damaged. Everywhere we see the devastating impacts of human exploitation of the natural world: the stripping-away of forests, grasslands, vegetative cover and wildlife habitat at a continental scale; the systematic toxification of air, water, and of the earth itself; the eradication of animal life and food sources in oceans, lakes and rivers; the ever-accelerating erosion, salinization and sterilization of soil; the depletion of aquifers, loss of water stored in snow and ice fields, lowering of water tables, damming of rivers and loss of biological productivity on our most fertile valleys and plains; the radical transformation of the atmosphere, temperature, climate and ocean circulation patterns of the entire plane; a loss of biodiversity which is sweeping away in the blink of an eye the precious fruits of millions of years of designdevelopment by evolution. For too long, the environmental movement has lived in a state of learned helplessness, under the mushroom-cloud assumption that catastrophe is inevitable and the only possible future is one of staged retreat from our ideals. No more … It’s time to reverse the foundational assumption that the planet's life support systems cannot or will not ever be restored. They can be very substantially restored within a few generations — incidentally insuring the survival of human civilization — if enough of us begin thinking and acting as if global restoration were necessary, desirable, and possible … Wouldn't it be cool if instead of hand-wringing and lamentations, we could rally behind a coherent , comprehensive, empirically rich, factually grounded, deeply researched, competent, believable, hopeful vision and roadmap as to exactly how we might constructively engage with the myriad of environmental and economic problems that beset human civilization and the natural world? Wouldn't it be great if we felt optimistic and confident, centered, grounded, hopeful? If instead of complaining about being powerless, we had a clear idea of how we could replace chaos with order, how we could think and act coherently, deliberately? What if individual people on every continent and in every biome and ecoregion began to take the initiative to clean the air, soil, water, to systematically restore forests and streams, grasslands and lakes and oceans, to maximum vitality again? Is there any more important mission for the 21st century? … Well, that happens to be the mission of the Earth Restoration Network <www.earthrestoration. net>, the most insanely ambitious environmental initiative ever conceived. Its statement of purpose: To build a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary platform of ideas and resources and a network of informed, committed and empowered activists, to enable the fullest possible restoration of our planet's life support systems, its biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, at every scale and in every time frame from weeks to centuries … If that seems overly abstract, not to mention overly ambitious, the Renewable Deal — the first content deliverable of our project — should resolve both concerns. It's an extremely detailed, comprehens i v e , fully integrated, 500-page master plan for moving the United States of America, in logical steps, to full sustainability for food, water, and carbonfree, nuclear-free energy within one lifetime, using established best practice and existing proven technology. In one stroke this masterful synthesis translates the abstract ideals of global environmental renewal into a single concrete and highly specific policy portfolio.” … I highly recommend folks take a look at this amazing document from our own regional environmental guru and see how we might proceed, if there's the political will. I'm working my way though the plan right now.

CALEB CAIN MARCUS … Son of local photog & mountain spirit Carl Marcus and his ex & former Tellurider Karen Cain, Caleb has come out with a dazzling book of photographs produced by Italian art house Damiani and sporting a zen-like foreword by the brilliant photographer and filmmaker icon Robert Frank (whose 1959 cult movie “Pull My Daisy” featured Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso) … In the vein of Frank, who over his long career has won accolades for a style that eschewed the slick and the polished for the moody and the mysterious, Marcus roamed the wee-hour streets of Brooklyn and the Bronx to capture the eerie nightscapes of bare light and the long blank shadows of built shapes … The Silent Aftermath of Space. Quite an achievement for one of our local boys. Highly recommended.

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.