Earth and the Great Weather:


by Kenneth Brower


foreword by David Brower

introduction by John P. Milton

photographs by Pete Martin, Wilbur Mills,

John P. Milton, Gilbert Staender, and others




from the foreword . . .

   The least we can do, if morality and ethics are still in our fiber, is to plan a thousand years of amenities for our progeny while they mind our nuclear garbage.

     So a thousand good years, and an aim. Mere survival is not enough in the world we seek. Our institutions need to accommodate an optimistic vision of man's future, to believe that if the golden rule is all right in religions, it should not be avoided in life.
     A thousand year plan for oil, with particular respect for the immediate foreground in Alaska, would recognize the contribution of those who discovered the North Slope oil resource, appropriately cover the costs they cannot cover, reward them, pay the state for storage underground, then record the oil reserve as part of the inventory to be budgeted to last a thousand years. The Plan would contemplate that oil may one day serve a more important purpose than fueling automobiles and supersonic transports. Precipitate exploitation would be discouraged and extravagant use would be prohibited. Study of potential dangers of removing and transporting the oil in and across fragile ecosystems would be exhaustive and not an exercise in salvage ecology. The costs of perfecting spill-proof transportation would be met and development would await the meeting, the oil remaining safely stored underground until then, in situ. Whatever the costs were would be passed on to the user, who has always paid the costs anyway although he has not always known it. I f this materially raises the price, that increase in itself would make economically feasible the development of more efficient oil using devices. We would pollute far less because pollution would be too wasteful and too expensive. This would be a residual advantage and a welcome one, since the Plan would not expect oil to be available for a millennium, but also would expect the air to remain breathable for the duration.

Applied to people, the Plan would celebrate and hold hard to the diversity that makes them strong, beautiful and interesting.

Applied to land use it would obliterate laissez-faire.

In forestry, it would eradicate monoculture.

In agriculture, it would stop decimating organic diversity three billion years
in the making.

It would recognize that if population continues to grow at the present rate, mankind will outweigh the earth and there are better things to do with both.

Applied to pace, the Plan would encourage people to slow down and live, to take time to look for the real show, heeding Robinson Jeffers:

But look how noble the world is.
The lonely-flowing waters, the secret keeping stones,
The flowing sky.

     No one ought to have too little courage to try, for what is the alternative? Begun soon, the Thousand -Year Plan should have rewards along the way. It should keep alive an orchestration of living things more beautiful than we now know, and perhaps even more beautiful than anyone remembers.

     Any of us, that is, except those who have known what Kenneth Brower and his friends remember in what this book has to say. There is a bit of requiem in it already, and we can be grateful that it is a beautiful requiem. We are more grateful that the world still has most of this ultimate wilderness still living, and there lies within man the power to let it stay that way.


Berkeley, California
March 25, 1971

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