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Environmental Musings

I get asked most about how I became so passionate about environmental issues.  I can’t actually remember the day but I recall what it was.   I read an article in National Geographic, a groundbreaking article about sea turtles.  I had no idea how fragile their existence was in nature.  It was alarming.  In a virtual minute of our species' existence, we have endangered this prehistoric creature. How could they be endangered?  Isn’t there enough sand and water to go around, I thought?​

I am now, what I didn’t self-diagnose many years ago, a biophiliac.  There is neither medication nor treatment for my illness.  I have an innate love for our fellow species, which is the main symptom of my illness.           2002


Excerpt from NEWH Award of Excellence Acceptance Speech

I gave in January, 2011.


Motto of a Sustainable Earth:


To make freshwater free, clean air communal.

To cool our atmospheric coils.

To repaint our reefs, restock our streams.

To keep the stripes on tigers, the paddles on sea cows.

To keep ice on the ground, birds in the sky.

To offset not upset.

To reduce, reuse, recycle but mostly react.


One “Green” Deed Spawns Another.

We have passed beyond the stage of choices without consequences and have entered into a period of habitat reconstruction. We must rethink the products we make and the places we build to ensure that our gifts to  nature are not ever-lasting.  


Moderating a Green Voice roundtable discussion in 2012,

from L - R,  Jeanne Varney, Susan Inglis, Herve̕ Houdre̕ 

and Katie Fernholz.

Goodwill should be sustainable but it isn’t. Nor is marketing nature, She doesn’t need our promotion but our careful hands.



Moderating the Green Voice roundtable discussion in 2014 at HD Expo with from L-R, Susan Wolfla, Cindy Ortega, Tom Herlihy, and Dina Belon.

NEWH Green Voice 2016 interview with Dr. Max Holmes,  Woodwell Climate Research Center

I have always been a proponent of the concept of biomimicry.  As I say often, there is no such thing as better nature through chemistry.  Its origin remains the best chemical equation of all time.                  


Earth Day Essays

Earth Day 54: The Road Less Heated


It has been my tradition for the past 15 years to write essays for Earth Day, some of which became the content of my second book, Kings of a Lonely Kingdom. On this 54th anniversary of the original event, I wanted to dedicate this essay to a somewhat stupefying topic: public discourse. It has dawned on me that even my tempered environmental activism has initiated a conflict or two. I genuinely believe in healthy debate, as did our Founding Fathers when our Constitution was conceived, but what we are witnessing today is anything but healthy.  Are we really fighting the “good fight?” Is it even genuine?

Environmentalism, an ostensibly beneficial concept, is stirring up controversy. Standing up for a sustainable planet isn’t exactly unique or even all that recent. I just recently reread Aldo Leopold’s essays from A Sand County Almanac, and he laid it out quite well. If we don’t place value on nature and its wealth of benefits, then we will likely not preserve it. Well, 75 years later, he was certainly prophetic. The race to reduce warming to two degrees Celsius is one we cannot afford to lose. Scientific assessments of a warmer planet with carbon dioxide emissions exceeding 500 parts per million (ppm) are not pleasant. But we must be honest and straightforward with this information, to sugarcoat it or deny it is unhelpful and dangerous. 

I was standing in line at a neighborhood convenience store last summer. My friend behind the register who knows that I wrote a couple of books on the environment, asked me if I had been writing anything of late. I responded that I was on a bit of a break. After I was asked by another patron about the subject of my books, I indicated that the topics were nature, environment, and climate change. From behind me, a man said, “climate change is a made-up topic.” A “debate” ensued. Not much of a constructive exchange, mind you.  We agreed to disagree. First, what was the purpose of his comment? Secondly, why would the topic incite someone?  Environmental conservation does not belong in a political camp, but it firmly is. I am an environment voter, guess which camp? That, by itself, is absurd. Want to know what else is absurd? The gentleman behind me in line who chirped at me was buying a case of bottled water. Yes, it just happened to be a record high for that day in Massachusetts.

For the past two years I have been testifying in front of my city government about the lack of environmental stewardship by National Grid, our energy provider.  We are abutters to a massive high voltage pipeline project that requires burying the cables below our street for miles between substations. When I inquired about their plan for reducing emissions or transitioning from fossil fuels, I hit a brick wall. We aren’t close to reaching 50% renewable energy usage globally, and we Americans are cumulatively the most responsible for global emissions. We have a burden to bear. In our city, National Grid didn’t see it that way. They refused to acknowledge their role in this heavy-duty construction project. After I suggested that at a minimum they offset their carbon footprint, their lawyer dismissed it as some kind of charity-based proposition. Even tagging me and others as naïve. And while I know National Grid’s motives are financial not personal, it feels the same. They are quite aware of the dangers of elevated GHG emissions so the fact that they are still deeply invested in fossil fuels is another form of misleading the public. Injecting dubious climate science debate is another. The void in honest environmental journalism highlights where the money is coming from, and it is a lopsided matchup. Science is not shaped by opinion but guided by the principles of trust and integrity. Climate change listens to no chatter, and we must also.

Of course we are seeing the beginnings of ecosystem decline. And when ecosystems decline, we permanently upset the balance of nature. As the dominant species we have a great level of responsibility to all others, and we have not championed that responsibility, as I wrote about extensively in my second book. We cannot be divided about climate change; it isn’t fair to those that depend upon us. There may have been a detour in the road for poet Robert Frost, but when it comes to preserving our environment, only one direction leads us to where we need to go. Let’s quit squabbling and follow it together. 

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