Introduction

Seen through the prism of conservation, extraordinary changes have happened during my lifetime.

 

In 1960, when I was born, the American conservation movement was on the rise and one of its chief concerns was wilderness protection. Fast forward to today and we are facing an existential crisis threatening life on earth due to climate change. That’s only sixty years!

 

My work and anguished questions tracked these developments (see The Work). In the summer of 1988, Dr. James Hansen testified before Congress, announcing that climate change was real and underway. The New York Times ran the story on its front page the next day. This marks the start of the Age of Consequences, I believe. Our innocence ended. That same summer, Yellowstone National Park exploded in flames. I was hiking and camping in Bandelier National Monument, working on my first project. 

 

I offer a brief Timeline here to put things in context:

 

                                                   Myself                                                                       The World

  • 1960           Born in Philadelphia                                                          Wallace Stegner publishes his Wilderness Letter
  • 1962                                                                                                               Publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring
  • 1966          Moved to Phoenix with my family                               ‘Mission 66’  successfully boosts tourism at U.S. National parks
  • Late 1960s-early 1970s                                                                          Major environmental laws passed; Earth Day; fights over public lands and wilderness protection
  • 1974          A summer trip to Mexico lights a fire about archaeology, land and people
  • 1977          A backpacking tour of western national parks                Sagebrush Rebellion starts out West
  • 1978-1982   Reed College; anthropology major, senior thesis on ethnographic film
  • 1980                                                                                                                Whole Foods is founded, organic movement grows
  • 1983-1985    UCLA grad school in film
  • 1986-1988    Worked in the UCLA’s main library, studying American West in my spare time
  • 1988            Bought a medium-format Bronica camera                      Atmospheric CO2: 350ppm
  • 1988            Traveled to New Mexico to document the Bandelier Survey (1)                           Dr. James Hansen testifies before Congress that climate change is real and ongoing
  • 1989           Began Indelible West photo project (2)                           Bill McKibben published The End of Nature
  • 1991           Moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 1992           Began work at Pecos NHP (3)                                     UN Summits: Rio, COP 1, and Convention on Biological Diversity
  • 1993                                                                                                           Clinton Administration / Bruce Babbitt becomes Interior Secretary, stirring up rural opposition out West
  • 1994                                                                                                           Republican Revolution in D.C. / first GMO food sold
  • 1995           Sierra Club activism, met rancher Jim Winder, begin column writing (4)
  • 1996            Canyonlands (5)                                                               “War on the West” declared by Time Magazine
  • 1997            Founded the Quivira Coalition (6)                                 Brundtland Commission definition of ‘sustainability’
  • 2001                                                                                                            9/11 tragedy  /  IPCC’s 3rd report on climate change
  • 2002            Began writing profiles about the radical center                          Nationwide Sierra Club referendum opposing cattle grazing fails / grazing wars over
  • 2003                                                                                                                Iraq War begins / analog gives way to digital
  • 2004             Purchased my first digital camera, began photo project (8)                                ‘Great Acceleration’ paper published
  • 2005            Wendell Berry publishes my essay The Working Wilderness                                Hurricane Katrina / UN Millenium Goals published
  • 2006            Read Long Emergency by James Kunstler                          Atmospheric CO2: 380 ppm
  • 2008            Begin writing AOC Chronicle  / Revolution on the Range published (7)                   Oil Price Spike / Wall Street Collapse
  • 2009                                                                                                          World leaders fail at Copenhagen Climate Summit
  • 2010             Carbon Ranch idea                                                   Gulf Oil Spill
  • 2012             travel                                                                                   Atmospheric CO2: 400 ppm crossed for the first time (in the arctic)
  • 2014             Grass, Soil Hope published   (9)
  • 2015             AOC (10) and Two Percent Solutions published (11), leave Quivira                                             Paris Climate Summit      
  • 2016                                                                                                           Donald Trump wins the presidential election
  • 2017             Completed Consilience (12), started Innovators series for Chelsea Green
  • 2018             Completed The Sun (13), start The Grass Canoe (14)
  • 2019             Caught in heat wave in Europe                                Atmospheric CO2: 415 ppm / term Climate Emergency now used frequently