Barry Commoner, 95, RIP — Plus, Nature Responds To Vandalism   4 comments

Sabino Canyon Riparian Area — Images by kenne

After leaving the Army in 1968, I returned to college to finish my baccalaureate degree. Having an intrinsic love of nature, I began reading the writings of Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Paul Ehrlich and Barry Commoner, all of which had a big influence on my interest in nature. Barry Commoner died September 30 at a hospital in New York. He was 95 and lived in Brooklyn.

Somewhere in my boxes of stored books, there is a paperback, “The Closing Circle,” by Barry Commoner. In this best-selling book, Dr. Commoner made a strong case for the linkage between ecological dangers and technological advances and how these dangers disproportionately affect poor people. In this book, he introduced the four laws of ecology:

  • Everything is connected to everything else.
  • Everything must go somewhere.
  • Nature knows best.
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch.

As an outspoken activist for nature and the social implications of our connection to the environment, many other scientists saw Dr. Commoner as a publicity hound, to which anthropologist Margaret Mead defended – “There are those who are sheltered in their narrow expertise, and those who will take responsibility for the well-being of the planet.”

Earth Day 1970 was irrefutable evidence that the American people understood the environmental threat and wanted action to resolve it.
— Barry Commoner

Because of the work of Dr. Commoner and other environmentalists, concern for the environment is firmly embedded in public life. Now that I have more time to spend outdoors working with children and adults as a volunteer in Sabino Canyon, I’m doing my small effort to take responsibility for improving our environment for current and future generations. If the first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else, no positive action is without its side effects.  There are those whose connection with the environment is very destructive, of which there are many examples. One that the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists (SVCN) have observed over the years is a basic act of vandalism.  Like most acts of vandalism, they are senseless. One year ago I posted some photos with the question, “Why would anyone do this?” 

Why would anyone do this? 1st posted September 17, 2011

The SCVN members try to patrol the canyon, especially alone the move heavily traveled path watching for acts of vandalism, we have noted that nature is doing its thing by growing arms around the damaged tops as shown in the following images.

Vandalized Saguaro Cactus Live On In Sabino Canyon– Images by kenne

I see harm reduction as a way of engaging people as part of that path to recovery.
— Paul Ehrlich


4 responses to “Barry Commoner, 95, RIP — Plus, Nature Responds To Vandalism

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  1. I have no idea why people do some of the awful things they do but it saddens me to see how those cacti were destroyed. Recently vandals destroyed a very old cemetery in my home town. The vandalized cacti reminded me of those vandalized stones.


  2. A wonderful text Kenne. We need to care for our planet. We are guests, we don’t own. Some folks will never get it!


  3. Some will never get it, even more reason for some of us to do our part.


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