The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery
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The laws of nature are under no obligation to cater to our culture's emotionally charged fantasies of perpetual progress and limitless growth.
- John Michael Greer, Energy funds, energy flows, 2011

Of the risks run by any movement that seeks to upend the status quo, the most commonly underestimated are the dangers of success. Plenty of movements that have triumphed over every adversity have faltered or even imploded when adversity gave way to achievement. There are plenty of ways that this can happen, but I suspect the one most likely to beset the peak oil movement will arrive when the movers and shakers of the world's industrial nations turn to the more respectable members of the movement and say, "Okay, you've made your point. So what do we do about it?"
- John Michael Greer, In the wake of Victory, 2010

Boulding's second law: The solution to problems create more problems. The main source of problems is solutions.
- Kenneth Boulding

Most preachers look for the easiest way through a text -- they want to preach solutions, not problems. But since most texts are problematic, you're losing a lot if you ignore the stones in the road. The stone in the road is usually there to get your attention.
- Peter J. Gomes, quoted by Bill McKibben, 2008

The truth, however awful, is safe and real.
- Andrée Zaleska, Grist, February 2010

It is very dangerous to try to
Leap a chasm in two bounds.

- Chinese proverb

Wealth is not stuff; it is a fiercely protected system of concentration. It is the act of the hoarding, and is a pillar of our culture.
- Chuck Barr, Culturequake, 2009

Nobody can fully comprehend the forces of nature and history set in motion by past events or present actions, or see deeply enough into the minds of men and deities, to predict the future.
- Jane Nielson, Sharing Groundwater in the Santa Rosa Plain, 2009

Democrats, generally more focused on [global warming], want to transition from abundant fossil fuels to abundant alternative energy sources. Republicans, generally less focused on [global warming], want to "Drill, Baby, Drill." Or, as I have put it, the Democrats propose to drive over the cliff in a plug-in hybrid, while the Republicans think that a Hummer gives a more comfortable ride as one drives toward the cliff.
- westexas, The Oil Drum comment, June 22, 2009

This terrible accident [Air France Flight 447, which flew into thunderstorms and disintegrated] serves to remind us that our technology is impressive, but it's not invulnerable. A little more respect for the power of nature wouldn't be out of place.
- Chris Impey, June 6, 2009

Advice to President Obama: create a financial system that doesn't require perpetual growth. Believe me, this is possible, the theories and models exist, and it is easier to do than repealing the laws of physics and ecology.
- Jason Bradford, Willits, California, January 28, 2009

A consultant is a man that borrows your watch to tell you the time. And then keeps your watch.
- Mudlogger, The Oil Drum, November 26, 2007

If we choose to eradicate ourselves from the Earth, by whatever means, the Earth goes nowhere. And in time it will regenerate. And all the lakes will be pristine - the rivers, the waters. The mountains - everything will be green again. It will be peaceful. There may not be people, but the Earth will regenerate, because the Earth has all the time in the world. And we don't.
- Oren Lyons (Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan), 11th Hour, 2007

Never try to walk across a river just because it has an average depth of four feet.
- Martin Friedman

Growth is dead. Let's make the most of it. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
- Richard Heinberg, October 2008

It's usually a bad bet to bet on the end of the world, because it only happens once.
- Art Cashan, September 2008.

Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.
- President Jimmy Carter

There is no one to say 'thou shalt not.'
- Jane Lubchenco

Our saving grace, our inability to affect things at a planetary level, is being lost to us.
- Rachelle Hollander

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was and never will be.
- Thomas Jefferson

We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.
- Ayn Rand

I do believe in science. And I do believe in real-world observations. Perhaps the central question of our time is whether those who don't will stop those who do from saving the planet.
- Joseph Romm, Grist, 2/27/08

The pioneers get the arrows and the settlers get the land.
- Adage, anonymous

Children throw stones at frogs in jest, but the frogs die in earnest.
- Chinese proverb

It is a lot easier to enter the future with a prepared mind, even if it's a surpise.
- John Perry Barlow, interview on NOW, December 29, 2007

Newkirk's Law: Whenever, during the course of a repair or assembly job, a part is accidentally dropped on the floor, it will never be found near the point of impact, but will always disappear into a region of uncertainty surrounding the point of impact whose area is directly proportional to the importance of the part.
- Lester Newkirk

Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.
- Robert Louis Stevenson

With the Endangered Species Act, we took Noah out of the Bible and put him into law. Some ranchers hate the ESA, but it was the first right-to-life act.
- Randy Udall, ASPO-USA, July 2, 2007

My kids are growing up in a world, in California, where inefficiency, the National Rifle Association, and racism evoke the same emotional response; it is very visceral.
- Vinod Khosla, venture capitalist, quoted by Marilyn Berlin Snell, Sierra Magazine, 08 May 2007

I am trying to save the knowledge that the forests and this planet are alive, to give it back to you who have lost this understanding.
- Paulinho Paiakan, Kayapo Leader, Brazil 1990

I came to realize clearly that mind is no other than mountains and rivers and the great earth.
- 13th Century Zen Master Dogen

The only thing that the universe is offering the human species now is the opportunity to change - to evolve - or to perish.
- Michael C. Ruppert, THE PARADIGM IS THE ENEMY: The State of the Peak Oil Movement at the Cusp of Collapse, a Speech for the Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma Conference, April 27-29, 2006, New York City at Cooper Union

U.S. chemical policy is still in a primitive state, guided by the philosophy, "Don't ask, don't tell."
- Rachel's Environment & Health News, October 2001

What we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.
- C.S. Lewis [quoted by Paul Hawken]

When asked whether an independent India would follow the British pattern of development, Gandhi replied 'It took Britain half the resources of the planet to achieve this prosperity. How many planets will a country like India require?' "
- Mohandas K. Gandhi quoted by Peter H. Raven, Science, "Sustainability, and the Human Impact," Science 297 (2002): 954-958

An epoch will come when people disclaim kinship with us as we disclaim kinship with the monkeys.
- Khalil Gibran, quoted in The Sun, November 2002

How would you describe the difference between modern war and modern industry - between, say, bombing and strip mining, or between chemical warfare and chemical manufacturing? The difference seems to be only that in war the victimization of humans is directly intentional and in industry it is accepted as a "trade-off."
- Wendell Berry, quoted in The Sun, November 2002

She said there were two people you had to be true to - those people who came before you and those people who came after you.
- Gayl Jones, quoted in The Sun, November 2002

We are impressed with nature's power, but by projecting upon this power an image of the feminine, the mother, we reassure ourselves - for surely a mother will always be loving toward us, continue to feed us, clothe us, and carry away our wastes, and never kill us, no matter how much toxic waste we put in the soil or how many CFCs in the ozone. The sense of nature as inexhaustible mother encourages us to feel there are no limits to a finite planet, while the sense of nature as benign and ever-loving mother permits us to continue disregarding a crescendo of warnings.
- Elizabeth Dodson Gray, quoted in The Sun, November 2002

The face of the earth is a graveyard, and so it has always been. To earth each living thing restores when it dies that which has been borrowed to give form and substance to its brief day in the sun. From earth, in due course, each new living being receives back again a loan of that which sustains life.
- Paul Sears, Deserts on the March (p. 1)

The most precious things are not jade and pearls but the five grains rice, wheat, millet, sorghum, and maize.
- Chinese Saying from Pamela Ronald and Hei Leung, Science v. 296 (2002): 58

The past is never dead. It's not even past.
- William Faulkner quoted by Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe, 12/14/02

Neither charm nor patience nor endurance has ever wrested power from those who hold it.
- Frederick Douglass (Molly Ivins, "A Few of My Favorite Quotes," 12/29/02)

Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger.
- Abbie Hoffman (Molly Ivins, "A Few of My Favorite Quotes," 12/29/02)

The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing - for the sheer fun and joy of it - to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it.
- I. F. Stone (Molly Ivins, "A Few of My Favorite Quotes," 12/29/02)

The enemy is not conservatism. The enemy is not liberalism. The enemy is bullshit.
- Lars Erik Nelson (Molly Ivins, "A Few of My Favorite Quotes," 12/29/02)

Status quo is Latin for the mess we're in.
- A Texas farmer (Molly Ivins, "A Few of My Favorite Quotes," 12/29/02)

In the process that carries knowledge from the laboratory to the market, there is not enough fear.
- Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle, p. 143

If, as in fact we know, the creature is not only in its environment but of it, and if the relationship between creature and environment is mutually formative, and if this relationship is a process that cannot be stopped short of the creature's death, then how can we get outside the relationship in order to predict with certainty the effects of our participation?
- Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle, p. 151

[Republicans] are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of economics, the wrong side of technology, the wrong side of progress and the wrong side of the environment [regarding energy policy].
- Molly Ivins, column, "Will They Ever See the Light?" August 24, 2003

No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up.
- Lily Tomlin, quoted in The Sun, December 2003

God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.
- Elbert Hubbard, quoted in The Sun, December 2003

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

We still haven't become mature enough to think of ourselves as only a tiny part of a vast and incredible universe.... [M]an is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself. The rains have become an instrument to bring down from the atmosphere the deadly products of atomic explosions.
- Rachel Carson from a CBS radio interview, quoted from New York Times obituary

The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free - not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma - the science of the heart...the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you. Believe me, it does.
- Bill Moyers, The Star Tribune, 1/30/05

With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently, he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions.
- Abraham Lincoln

Blessed are those who depend least on modern technology,
For they have not forgotten how to take care of themselves.
Blessed are those whose culture is communitarian and
Not individualist, for they will share and prosper.
Blessed are they who have no exploitable natural
Resources, for no one will bother them.
Blessed are those who know how to grow food, for
They will eat and feed others.

- Richard Heinberg Powerdown (2004) p. 153

George Bush's second inaugural extravaganza was every bit as repugnant as I had expected, a vulgar orgy of triumphalism probably unmatched since Napoleon crowned himself emperor of the French in Notre Dame in 1804. The little Corsican corporal had a few decent victories to his escutcheon. Lodi, Marengo, that sort of thing. Not so this strutting Texan mountebank, with his chimpanzee smirk and his born-again banalities delivered in that constipated syntax that sounds the way cold cheeseburgers look, and his grinning plastic wife, and his scheming junta of neo-con spivs, shamans, flatterers and armchair warmongers, and his sinuous evasions and his brazen lies, and his sleight of hand theft from the American poor, and his rape of the environment, and his lethal conviction that the world must submit to his Pax Americana or be bombed into charcoal.
- Mike Carlton, "The Empire of Vulgarity," Sydney Morning Hearald, January 21, 2005

The ultimate measure of any system, any society, or any institution is not how it acts in moments of comfort and convenience but how it responds to challenge and controversy.
- Bill Moyers, "A Moral Transaction,", Monday 20 June 2005

We lose our health - and create profitable diseases and dependencies - by failing to see the direct connections between living and eating, eating and working, working and loving.
- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America

There is a lot wrong with our world. But it is not as bad as people think. It is actually worse.
- Michael Meacher, British Environment Minister (from Matthew Engel, The Guardian, October 24, 2003)

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
- H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, 1920

Take care of the land, and it will take care of you. Take what you need from the land, but need what you take.
- Native American Proverb

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.
- Native American Proverb

The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery - not over nature but of ourselves.
- Rachel Carson

Our lives are going to depend on whether we have an environment that's worth living in and that can actually support the project of civilization.
- James Howard Kunstler, The End of Suburbia [a film], The Electric Wallpaper Co., 2004

If a path to the better there be/It begins with a full look at the worst.
- Thomas Hardy, 1887

A crisis is a series of problems ignored until they become terminal.
- Matthew R. Simmons, address to ASPO-USA Denver World Oil Conference, 2005

If all people are to be fed adequately and equitably, we must have a gradual transition to a global population of 2 billion. Last orders is running out at the global dinner table.
- David Pimentel, Sydney Morning Herald, December 2002

The more we get out of the world the less we leave, and in the long run we shall have to pay our debts at a time that may be very inconvenient for our own survival.
- Norbert Wiener, quoted by Ross McCluney, "Renewable Energy Limits," in The Final Energy Crisis

It's hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding.
- Upton Sinclair

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought.
- John Kenneth Galbraith

Below that thin layer comprising the delicate organism known as soil is a planet as lifeless as the moon.
- Jacks and Whyte, Vanishing Lands, 1939

The future is already here. It's just not very evenly distributed.
- William Gibson, 1999

One final paragraph of advice. Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast...a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.
- Edward Abbey

The future ain't what it used to be.
- Yogi Berra (attributed)

If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up someplace else.
- Yogi Berra

The technology we need most badly is the technology of community - the knowledge about how to cooperate to get things done.
- Bill McKibben, 2006

The idea of an "environmentally friendly car" makes as much sense as a "non-violent death penalty."
- Don Fitz, Znet, April 2007

Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know.
- M. King Hubbert, quoted by Byron W. King, Energy Bulletin, November 8, 2006


The American West at Risk: Science, Myths and Politics of Land Abuse and Recovery

The American West At Risk summarizes the dominant human-generated environmental challenges in the 11 contiguous arid western United States - America's legendary, even mythical, frontier.

It now faces depletion of many of these resources, and potentially serious threats to its few "renewable" resources.

Purchase Here at Oxford Press



Dr. Howard G. Wilshire, Geologist; Dr. Jane E. Nielson, Geologist; Richard W. Hazlett, Geologist

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