David Brower: Speaks about "What Will it Cost the Earth" at Kelly Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio (Part A)
I have a couple of notes here in the New York Times clipping and a few random ideas. And will try to put them all together into something and I'll stop as soon as the audience has disappeared.
I'd like to perhaps call the talk tonight.
A little question that I just heard at our annual meeting of friends of the earth two days ago in New York it was our first radio meeting we cheated if it goes really nine months. Oh. It was a very good UAL meeting among the people we had there was somebody from our. Own little office Bob Lincoln. He just really holds a corner of the desk he doesn't really have an. Office as such. From our mark Davidson our anchorage representative in Alaska. And we paid him about $300 a quarter so he's not getting very rich from. Our man in Paris you know. A curse addressed to him while the awful truth of the earth. In French. Dress it's really class. Fifty two. Shows it leaves it dry but there was nothing really awful because he was carrying on a job.
There is an attorney at with s Matthews whom I first met. When I was working with the Sierra Club. And out of all people with a Tiffany interest in trying to keep Huntington Parker from putting the bar and restaurant in Central Park. Cars I won but only by accident we lost in the court. But Thomas Hoving who was related to Tiffany's became director of parks and told Mr. Parker do you think you want it in there. So there were people from rather widely scattered parts. Of the world about 12 hours apart in time zones and it really kind of plays mater say the friends of the earth and its nine months is already.
Having international concerns thats what we intended to have. Indeed we do have. We also had a man there a little farther east and he's now sort of our assistant be in Switzerland and Germany is drying up. For three months. Direction wintering this country learning about us but in any event we've got an international interest. We need it and it needs to me. It started here in the United States and international interest and restoration of the planet with you.
Right because it is here that all the worst polluters are. We are primarily responsible for most of us going wrong I think when the globe. And the only service writes it down so you can do about it. Who came up with what.
Ed Matthews are saying about the European attitude where you are and how it is changing. Not quite so rapidly as our own. But he gave a sentence which I recast this way as a good total crap shoot like to make a point of it. What will it cost the group like that. And I don't know quite what to do with it but if I don't do something with it please do it yourself. What will it cost the earth. Seems to me that we might sort of. Introduce the subject of guns was we talking about like whatever is going to be. And see if I can answer that question. However indirectly I think that I won't really answer it. I think that all we can do is make sure that I start my. Speech with its conclusion. We must make sure that every time we do something we have asked that question for years what will cost the earth. I like to go through a little litany I've worked up to with before I get down to my random notes first. I think as I did way back in 1959. But there is one principal question before the United States and before the world on that question which I wrote it down and it's getting old hat now it's on PBS How dense can people be.
I think that the I think the Hatter has about as as a start. People should be only half as dense as they now are and to think of even less dense so much the better.
If they were just half as dense as they are now that would put the population of the earth down to say about one of your quarters Good him population the United States down to 100 million and that seems just too far out for you to contemplate. Rest assured that it doesn't seem that way to me because that.
Was the population of the earth. In the United States roughly when I graduated from high school. It may seem to you that was a long time ago but it was hardly any time to go in my own recollection so I can remember Berkeley in the late twenties. Was a little bit more peaceful and I was the last two or three days that I called home tonight and look is peaceful as we can look back at that population. Incidentally in the late twenties California had only one quarter of. The population is today 25 million. We still had the critical mass of people that made a culture possible. People their culture. We had some theater and sentences go more theater than we have now. We had symphony. We had mass transportation. We had some pretty good things going. To look at. We had some open space we had some. Water. It was better to drink. We had more varied than we have now. And we certainly had much better here. So I think it's a fairly good goal to start toward. Let's decline the populations. And I would add right off the bat that the first place.
To start controlling population to live I was thinking he was in middle class and affluent white America I think the reason is fairly obvious but this detest X group that is this statistic guy uses 6 percent of the world's population or only uses 60 percent of the world's resources. Because looking for a bigger cut. The figures may vary a little bit but it's essentially using up the resources by the United States at 20 times the world average.
We've been tempted recently to try to help what we call the underdeveloped nations or the developing nations by bringing them up to our standard and I think it's quite clear at this point there aren't resources enough on your to withstand that kind of assault. The alternative I think and I'll try to point some ways to it in the course of the evening is if we start. Lowering our standards not of living not of life but perhaps of collective establish a new way of living that drains the resources of the earth much less than ours do now. That's the first thing to do to construct controlling population an awful lot of America for a child born to an awful lot of American values about 50 times the resources a child born in the black ghetto. The book starts right here it's up to us to do something about.
I won't give you the usual crisis notes from all over you at this point. Read about them you know that there is really an environmental crisis.
I think you all have our theories about why it reached the president tensity head I'm still satisfied and I always thinking that we feel the way we do about the crisis simply because we see the end of the road coming the road that we've been traveling. We see how we are at long last on a very limited. Plan. I think the view we got. Back in 0 after the First they shot when they just look at the moments that are going in the complications of trying to land on. I think that the remarks by astronaut one on the way back. Really started something new happening and I think the thinking all around the world when he started back and they haven't got that assist shot was we are the world. You may remember he said we would be advised there is a static kill they're on their way home. And he talked about. This beautiful. Blue Planet. In the indescribably vast desert air space. Through his up out there. We could see how limited all this are we could see how rapidly we're taking it apart.
At least we know the crisis is here. You see it in every magazine you pick up if you use but you know it's not here alone.
It's him. Other countries too. And Don Valentine the Ballantine Books keeps me really well informed about what's happening. He cooks the New York Times for me when I look at myself and you weigh yourself and notice that there is a problem. And they are recommending good action on it. Is it time for a cool night. In the Soviet Union. And do I like the new thing. Really Frank. Basically the problem and the outlining of steps to take and I hope this is a good example let me just exert this for just a moment because David Moscow you play. The New York Times service especially for them Soviet Conservation officials calling for stricter laws to protect what sources of declared water pollution alone is costing the economy more than six billion a year that shows a billion dollars in the field as part of a wide ranging discussion of environmental.
Conservation problem by poor arson and barking.
Dogs cats like you I can't read it.
It's split in the head of the ministry of agriculture department.
For the protection of nature preserves and hunting grounds he worries about like my coffee. Which has more fresh water in them than the other but. The damage being done to the economy.
Through improper use of natural resources and environmental pollution is a mess. Roosters. One upset. At the. Current regulations drafted by republics and ministries had proven that it. Doesn't know what engine protection for covering the entire country must be passed he said. If you formulate general principles governing the treatment of me lay down rules and regulations for the preservation and exploitation of the natural riches common to all the New Republic's. Most important truth should specify the penalties to be. Time government officials and private individuals bridges bridges of the regulation system and control over the organizations exploiting natural resources must be set up. This system must be from the state's major protection interest at every stage beginning with the drafting of it that's good construction design. And then with the completion of projects under such a good operation.
Oh I want to go on through the whole story. It's a fairly big and it is so familiar that I don't know quite how to explain it and I hope that they have better luck than we've had so far in bringing about some of the reforms that are needed there. We're all in the same boat. I like to put it in perspective this way because we're all the same perspective. But since I do come from California it's.
I'm obliged. When talking about evolutionary matters to give Genesis equal time. California requires this or this. So whatever the time the six days of creation. And comparing this with the geological time we get a ration will be a thousand years to the second. But it's kind of fun. And I like to play around with that because it does give us a perspective by the time I get through that. We started out midnight Saturday for the creator passing a few laws as it was the first one as he was MC squared and maybe one or two others. Deciding that well alright. Let's have energy that got you know so let's have a park or what I want. Parks Masson would get charged with threatening to intervene again. This is a law that's held up pretty well. Let's just ninety two elements. That was an underestimate. And then. The creator reached for what I like to call heavy putting And my idea of that is that's what I mean when you are dead set is if you were as dangers of bullets are you would be one quite good.
But your present value would weigh the same and your value would be just one quadrillion. So while the rest of your really is nothing just base but my snorkel I'd like to do it.
Well. So all this sort of stuff going on. While When we finally got oceans enough and there was the planet at noon on Tuesday the cell. That cell the chromosomes wouldn't genes in the chromosomes and then the genes the idea that split. And it. Had life. From that point on was aboard the planet and all the rest of Tuesday through that we became more and more diverse. More stable because of its diversity more beautiful because of its stability. But behind it all behind the importance of every living thing essential to the biological well that we had here on a planet that could run itself over any forest or economists or bankers or anything. Essentially this was the biological diversity of life and it was pretty nice. But I'll skip life permitted to go to Wednesday midnight because at that point Wednesday midnight some rocks were laid down on the earth that are now explode you know we're introduced to you and some of the rocks some of the rage at least were laid on the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Just an example. Well he said now through Thursday Friday into Saturday morning at 8:00 there are cockroaches so well designed that they didn't have to change the design. They're still that way. Let's use four o'clock in the evening in the afternoon. He interrupts comes on stage at nine o'clock it was off to do just one and a half.
Seconds before midnight the first formal agriculture in Southeast Asia would be good to do traders and with people you know it's primarily due for a variety of dioxin. We've taken pretty good care of the birthplace of Agriculture for just about two thirds of a second before midnight. You're about to enter the same time also the germination of a seed on the White Mountains of California east of the Sierra bristlecone planting that same CD still or it's alive is to grow. A quarter of a second record when you're typing anti-establishment talking about peace and brotherhood. And then a 40 second workman I was at the point of all this the industrial revolution began just before you a second.
Now and that boarded the second we acquired the information that enables people who write the financial sections of the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times the London Times the Observer everybody all those people. Concluded from not worried the second what we did there or got away with it. We found a new formula for life something that we could not forget everything of the form. Live it since last Tuesday and the importance of all that the first since midnight since noon on Tuesday. All this was good for the 40 the second and all is calm. All this assurance that you can take that little tiny blip in time and then extrapolate from that. Could be anything but it was insane. If you expect to get away and go on the latest pictures of the most unlikely people we have. Senator mask still talking about the growth that must go on. Certainly all the energy business people are talking about the doubling of the energy Cassady letter to reactors or Steve plants or I do electric dams or whatever.
We must have in the next eight decades got to double double double again.
Well I think that we finally can see that if its going to be not double or nothing with double and nothing if we double again and I think that we have about 10 years in which to decide doubling is something thats an old habit for God.
And I think that that's the hazard of it is not so clear that we look. Correct. I come out of this really you know. We will come out of the liking 70s All right. But by virtue of anything we've done in the past. Well I'd like her to look we're going to start with you know what I would like to call. The decade of renunciation. One of the books we want to get out is a calendar for next year. Urge you all to get all of the renunciation calendar. Week by week. At the top of each page will have a list of things you don't have to do this week.
Thank you and I will welcome suggestions for those pages too. But imagine yourself on this double get going on the highway a mile an hour doubling your speed or the 10 seconds. 1 2 2 4 8 16 nobody's going to bother about that. But as I like to point out at 60 miles an hour you're travelling at the maximum speed your own energy will sustain and I think that we didn't really begin to get into trouble with the environment we began to use energy other than our biggest market point in passing so we use the horse up again that's 30 to women we haven't used cheaters yet except for. 64 miles an hour. Double it again. We're Trouble 120 miles an hour. We've been doubling for a minute now. And at that speed we're just about I think the equivalent of doing the equivalent of a weekly race through our last resources. That's a fairly frightening speed. 198 miles an hour on the highway you know. It isn't all right Jackson to go you have had an accident you can't you say you're not going to go on. You should have your hands firmly on the wheel. You should be looking very fixedly ahead. You should be feeling tense you should be hearing sirens.
But I think we are.
And I think you've heard them and you've heard them. I think you're much more clearly than in many other places and I certainly think that the studio audience as I talked to have not had much trouble with their hearing. I'm going to be very interested to see what happens in early June when I talk to some TV executives and then also to the McKinsey Company one of the biggest outfits and management consulting. And I want to see if they're hearing those are. Being treated. We can't keep doubling if you go up to 256 miles an hour you're on the road and that which we can't do another brother or some other games to play in the first thing I think is true you know to use less and less. Let's let's start using LESTER One of the most important. Offenses against the planet that struck using less energy.
I think the the energy providers are probably the worst of the villains. They're closely associated with what Mayor Alyosha looks identical calls the road game that's the oil industry the automobile industry and the highway construction industry but the combination hearing these are pretty critical in the environmental Handbook which I'm sure everybody here must do. Do you hear the bell says all power pollutes. Maybe maybe not solar power except the extent that people get sunburn but they certainly the others do. We know the hydroelectric power as it puts country other stuff around it to hit it on dates all kinds of ecosystems all kinds of value valuable parts of. The balance that we want to preserve and it's only a short range thing if you've got any kind of a time scale except Mr. records say because it's going to be to long periods of centuries or millennia that the dam sites out of action. So that's a pretty fossil fuel you know all about already. That's one of our biggest problems we know what is causing the damage it causes through our automobiles we know what happens in the power industry itself. We're getting a lot of material in the air that we should have. The worst threat I think from the fossil fuels oil coal oil shale natural gas is the danger I think to the auction system but we have to thank a tree. Yes it was a green tree for oxygen but don't like it too profusely because for every molecule of oxygen you're Gretry released during its daytime life if planes are remote like you will but part of that money. But all finally all arose of you in debt to feed the slow hopeless fires of decay. So there is no gain really for great things except that some of them have the good judgment. Back in the Carboniferous period of being buried before they climbed out last October we became fossil fuels to the extent that that hockey was the best region of obligation. We had sent. So here we go over again as best as we can offshore. To dig it up to strip mine to get it back in the atmosphere again to reclaim its oxygen. It doesn't leave very much for us so that's one of the hazards I think we recognise pretty well there's also a way for the residue fossil fuels there is some radioactive emission from the releases from the birthing pool even from those days. But the. The worst rated workers releases of course are from. The reactor. You are right now have you a reactor coming near you will be happy to plane this plane atomic power to me is the the dirtiest of all. We still have without any visible means of control of either the treaty of escaping the emission radioactive Krypton and that in itself is bad enough to require I think a whole rethink of the nuclear reactor program. But if you don't want to rethink that the House read. Think because of what happens at the high level radioactive waste there is no solution. Look at the high level radioactive waste their various planes various There is one of them being honest. Nicest thing to do is to. Pack up in the ceramic or glass concentrate of the package. Put it down the hole saw on something and maybe this would work I've heard one visitor expressed serious doubts but if it works why don't they do little good. It's not built into the economics of any of the reactors under construction. The best system they have now having abandoned the idea of putting it in a concrete packaging. Don't think you could see the half we can fly. Or it could get out of Washington when we come. Columbia River. Probably right there. And these big stainless steel tanks every 50 years or so by remote control. Nobody wants to lose to a plant they've got a new high level liquid radioactive waste one tenth of the other. New fresh kind and they've got to do this because you know hundreds a thousand years I don't even believe that anymore because I don't trust the figures that we get everything. You know perfectly all right. Of the poor there's no danger. You read about what's happened now come Apollo 13 we have this new reactor that was what would we have safely removed. Well. It took a 500000 mile trip. But it's still right back here at. The meeting it's radioactive. I hope Dr Teller was there but so was it just a thousand years. Do you think you can think so I don't think so I don't think we have any moral right to leave that kind of garbage for those who come here is simply to defeat our own convenience our orders are African beat. I don't think we have the wherewithal if we should decide but I think we do have a right to leave that kind of garbage to be tended for a thousand years then certainly we better start a whole series of thousand year plans covering other things we want to do now is in your plans and how we can spread out the resource base at least 3000 years for the people that we reasonably can expect to fall so they will have something to sustain them. I do enjoy mind or garbage due to me that that's the least we can.
I didn't give you the crisis list. But good. You know as well as I do that we we've heard a lot about it and you know it well as I do that it's causing a lot of trouble. It's causing a great deal of worry. There was a recent test at Stanford which explains what happens to people or credit what happens to people when they're confronted with bad news. Time after time after time and the stages they go through they go through shock.
To disbelief to really to guilt people to hostility. And directional ization and then somewhere along the line and something else happens that they they go to a feeling of involvement. And then to resolution that doesn't always happen. I think then I've got to worry. There are in the down. Downward movement what happens what goes on without you. I think you've got a certain amount of it. Too much of it. And you're going to hook up frustrated with a lot of us sure enough and the frustration gets worse and worse and then there's frustration. Various things happen that are not going to reach their legal solutions very rapidly in fact you're probably looking to get solutions and I think that a good many things that happened in my own home town and probably yours don't seem to contribute as much as they might. To changing directions. We have really just the pure essence of what trust Gration puts into people's actions. I'm against it I think that's one of the worst building restoration and I think the establishment is being quite recently that I'm going to say a little bit later on. Pete this instance needs correcting but I think that there are good corrective mechanisms within the system that should be used better by those of us who seek change. But I also think that those recognition must be available to you. And right now there are a good many establishment types that just don't want to avail.
From frustration I think you dropped out of there. The worst part hallucination has happened in Germany in World War 2 where the Jews were getting closer and closer to their being murdered by the Nazis began to hallucinating to figure that this couldn't possibly happen to them. I think we see signs of elucidation all around us I think that the response of some industries right now. To the ecology movements attack. To hallucinate a little bit to think that somehow this isn't a fad that law passed away and we can just go on about our business as usual. Take the problem down to Madison Avenue hold up them but then sweep it up a bit. Don't take it to an engineer or to a sociologist.
Why don't you call it. I think they're wrong. I don't think we can afford that kind of a loser nation I think we can afford. I'll get to that shortly. I think we can worry. A lot more involved and I'll try to show a little bit later on how we might undertake to be involved in ways that perhaps you were involved.
But first I do have a little list of things that I think we can slow down. There is only a temporary ban on the use of people love to provide to India where he uses them the worst where it's called all kinds of damage. California is the first the heaviest user in this country but even here although there is a restricted ban or not take you off you're also not saying you can't use what you already have that you're not saying that you can't put a young forest there you can't put it on the roadside to control weeds so it still gets in the system and a lot of what's ahead is indicated in the research that is looked up using drugs to sell. There are indications that 1 2 4 5 T-Birds 3 burn or degrades in the presence of people up to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a byproduct of dioxin So there is again and it's a frightful poison. Why do we want to use any defoliation at all. That's the question and why naturism we want to use it because we want to usurp the earth and other men and not too many of the other countries that support what. We want to get rid of the other living things that seem to be competing with us for space your group. Once I get some brand new poison I certainly think of a bunch of every year DDT is really old hat.
When we think up a new one we don't test it for a while but we get it up there hoping it's going to wipe out the enemy by doing something with nervous system we exist in something in the store without recognizing that we all came from that same cell Last year you know and all were not first cell right down to here. We first living in this audience there's never been a failure of reproduction. I cannot sell to every living mosquito there is never going to failure and reproduction.
That's all part of the same little bit of magic potion there you just don't know what you're doing to you when you try to do it. This might be just as escape the chemical industry. Rachel Carson tried to point it out. They laughed that it left. They left rather badly you're still trying to laugh at the people who try some other solution to getting on with the earth in passing I would say that the solution is as I see it is to get back to the diversity of the landscape that can prevent them providing an opportunity for recurring renewing trucks at the Santa Cruz campus out in California where some students are really I think doing some good work and I understand it's about to start here they've got their little work going they could take a very small piece of land there but by tailoring music the human hand of the book rather than to the machine and by remembering the importance of diversity they're getting enormously higher even with a sheep farmer to get their building up the fertility through poetry from university garbage among other things they're having a good time at it. They're going on budget holes are growing some flowers and one of the things I like my sisters a bike by the edge of the forms of flowers and the flowers are free. You come in and have them you decorate the classroom you decorate your home with you can't you decorate the door. They are practically euphoric about what's happening. Those that are working not just this little piece of glass. And one of the things we can think about doing besides collecting things and many of them we've got I think to get rid of this idea that we was poisoned everything you know. There are too many ricochets in this kind of warfare. How do we get the cars out of the city. I have a little to myself how do we free organization from a tyranny with their own conservation of Internal Revenue Service.
I've had experience with that.
How do we master plan the United States. They're really calling for one over there. Soviet Union I think we call for a law that really sets aside various parts of the country for the kinds of things they can do best is this kind of geological or biological resource.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- David Brower: Speaks about "What Will it Cost the Earth" at Kelly Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio (Part A)
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- Only a few days before the first Earth Day in April 1970, David Brower visited Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio to speak about the growing environmental movement. Born in 1912, David Brower was an American environmentalist who founded many environmental organizations including the League of Conservation Voters, the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies, and Friends of the Earth (FOE). Brower served as the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club. This talk took place one year after Brower founded the FOE in 1969, which had its first international meeting earlier in 1970. In his talk, Brower discusses the need for an international interest in the restoration of the environment. He argued that since the United States was the primary polluting nation, it was our country that needed to take the lead in environmental action. Every time we do something, Brower said, we must ask ourselves "What will it cost the Earth?"
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