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     David Brower: Speaks about "What Will it Cost the Earth" at Kelly
    Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio (Part A)
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I have a couple of notes here in New York Times clippings and a few random ideas and we'll 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 years two days ago in New York. It was our first annual meeting and we cheated a bit because we're only nine months old. It was a very good annual meeting among the people we had. There was somebody from our one a little office, Bob Blinken. He just really holds a corner of a desk. He doesn't really have an office as such. From our, David's in our Anchorage representative in Alaska and we pay him about three hundred dollars a quarter so he's not getting very rich. From our man in Paris and we now have a Paris address and we have a white house for friends of the earth in French. And the address that's really class 52
Avenue Shones-Élysée drop by. There we pay nothing for the office because the man who's carrying on a job there is an attorney Edwin S. Matthews who my first met when I was working with the Sierra Club. They had of all people with a Tiffany interests and trying to keep Huntington Parkford from putting a bar on the restaurant in Central Park. Our side won but only by accident. We lost in court but Thomas Hoving who was related to the Tiffany's became director of parks and told Mr. Parkford that he didn't think he wanted him there. So there were people from rather widely scattered parks of the world about 12 hours apart in time zones and it really kind of pleased me to say that friends of the earth in its nine months is already having international concerns. That's what we intended to have and indeed we do have. We also had a man there from a little farther east and he's now sort of our assistant in Switzerland and Germany is trying
out for three months, Eric Schinders, the two famous countries learning about us. In any event, we've got an international interest. We need it and it needs to be started here in the United States, an international interest in the restoration of the planet of the environment because it is here that all the worst polluters are. We are primarily responsible for most of us going wrong, I think, in the globe. And it only serves us right to sit down and see what you can do about fixing it. The title came up in what Ed Matthews is saying about the European attitude toward the environment 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 title and perhaps you'd like to make a pin of it. What will it cost the earth? I like that and I don't know quite what we'll do with it, but if I don't do something with it, please do it yourself. What will it cost the earth? It seems to me that we might
sort of introduce the subject that I'm supposed to be talking about tonight, whatever it's 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 should 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 first. What will it cost the earth? I like to go through a little litany I've worked out two of them before I get down to my random notes. First, I think as I did way back in 1959, but there is one principle question before the United States and before the world. And that question, which I wrote it then, and it's getting old hat now, it's on pins, how dense can people be? And I think the answer is about, as a starter, people should be only half as dense as they now are, and I think it can be 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 and three quarters billion, population of the United States down to a hundred million. And if 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 and the United States roughly when I graduated from high school. It may seem to you that that was a long, long time to go, but it's hardly any time to go in my own recollection. So I can remember Berkeley in the late 20s, it was a little bit more peaceful and it was the last two or three days that I called home tonight and Berkeley's peaceful this weekend. But back at that population and incidentally, in the late 20s, California had only one quarter the population has today, only five million. They still had the critical mass of people it made, made culture possible. We called it a culture. We had some theater in San Francisco, more theater than we have now. We had symphony.
We had mass transportation. We had some pretty good things going on to look at. We had some open space. We had some water that was better to drink. We had more bay than we have now. And we certainly had much better air. So I think it's a fairly good goal to start toward. Let's decline the population somehow. And I would add right off the bat that the first place to start controlling population, divided thinking, is in middle class and affluent white America. I think the reason is fairly obvious, but the statistics prove it. That is the statistic I use. It's a 6% of the world's population are on. It uses 60% of the world's resources. It's looking for a bigger cut. The figures may vary a little bit, but it's essentially. I'm using up resources by the United States at 20 times the world average. We have been tempted recently to try to help what we call the underdeveloped nations,
or the developing nations, by bringing them up to our standard. 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, now I'll try to point some ways to it in the course of the evening, is that we start lowering our standards, not of living, not of life, but perhaps of collecting. I 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 start controlling population in affluent white America, or a child born to an affluent white American will use about 50 times the resources of a child born in a black ghetto. The buck starts right here. It's up to us to do something about it. I won't give you the usual crisis notes from all over. I think that you at this point read about them. You know that there is an environmental crisis.
I think we all have our theories about why it leaks the present intensity it has. I'm still satisfied in my own way of 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 planet. I think the view we got back in after the first space shot when they just looked at the moment instead of going into the complications of trying to land on it. I think that the remarks by astronaut Bournemont on the way back really started something new happening in our thinking and thinking all around the world. When he started back finally having got that assist shot when he was behind the road, he may remember he said please be advised there is a Santa Claus there on their way home. And he talked about this beautiful blue planet in the indescribably vast desert of space through his eyes out there somehow we could see how limited it all is here. We could see all
rapidly we're taking it apart. At least we know the crisis is here you see it in every magazine you pick up you see it in your newspapers and it's not here alone. It's in other countries too and in Valentine's book keeps me really well informed about what's happening. He clips the New York Times for me when I don't clip it myself and you ain't yourself have noticed that there's a problem and they are recommending good action on it because the times were equal night in the Soviet Union and I like the really the frank facing of the problem and the outlining of steps to take and I hope you use this as a good example let me just exert this for just a moment. With a day to Moscow you relate the New York Times service special to them. A Soviet conservation official calling for stricter laws to protect natural resources is declared that
water pollution alone is costing the economy more than six billion a year that shows a six billion dollars and the appeal was part of a wide ranging discussion of environmental and conservation problems by boroughs and bogged it. I can't read it. It's split on the line there. Head of the Ministry of Agriculture Department for the protection of nature preserves and hunting grounds. You worry about lake by calm of course which has more fresh water in than the other body of water. The damage being done to the economy through improper use of natural resources and environmental pollution is immense. Mr. Fognano said adding the current regulations drafted by republics and ministries had proved inadequately all found rather familiar. A nature protection law covering the entire country must be passed he said. It should formulate general principles governing the treatment of nature laying down rules of regulations for the preservation and exploitation of the natural riches common to all the
union republics. Most important through which it specified the penalties to be imposed on government officials and private individuals for any infringement of these regulations. A system of control over the organization's exploiting natural resources must be set up. The system must defend the state's nature protection interest at every stage, beginning with the drafting of construction designs and ending with the completion of projects and their subsequent operation. Well I won't go on through the whole story but it's a fairly big one and it just sounds 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 and I like to put it in perspective this way because we're all in the same perspective that since I do come from California it's I'm obliged when talking about evolutionary matters to give Genesis equal time. Max Rafferty out in California requires this or this.
So by a property time in the six days of creation and comparing this with the geological time, we've got a ratio of 8,000 years to the second and 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 start out midnight Sunday with a creator passing a few laws as opposed to the first one where it's equals MC squared and maybe one or two others and deciding that well all right let's have energy and that's got monotonous so let's have a park for a while when it parks its mass and then we'll get charterless apartments energy again. This is the law that's spelled up pretty well. Let's lab just 92 elements that was an underestimate and then the creator reached for what I like to call heavy putty and my idea of that is that's what pulsars are made of and you know how dense
that is if you were as dense as a pulsar you would be one quadrillion of your present volume you weigh the same and your volume will be just one quadrillion of what it is so all the rest of your release nothing just space but nicely organized I would like to do it by so all this sort of stuff went on for a while and we finally got oceans and mountains and here is the planet and at noon on Tuesday the cell that cell has chromosomes and genes in the chromosomes and then the genes the ideal it split and they did and right from that point on was aboard the planet and all the rest of Tuesday and on through the week 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 the biological wealth that we inherited on a planet that could run itself without any forester or economist or bankers or anything essential
to this was the biological diversity of life and it was pretty nice but I'll skip fly for a minute and go to Wednesday midnight because at that point Wednesday midnight some rocks were laid down on the earth that are now exposed in a Laurentian shield and similar rocks of similar age at least were laid down at the bottom of the Grand Canyon have just been exposed well hasten on now through Thursday Friday into Saturday morning at eight and there are cockroaches so well designed that they didn't have to change the design they're still that way Pat let's see it was four o'clock in the evening and the afternoon the age of reptiles comes on the stage at nine o'clock it was off stage one two just one and a half seconds before midnight the first formal agriculture in Southeast Asia and with B-52 traders and with defoliants primarily two four or five T and dioxin we've taken pretty good care of that birthplace of agriculture
and a hurry on to just about two-thirds of a second before midnight pyramid's about then and at the same time also the germination of a seed on the white mountains of California east of the Sierra a bristle cone pine that same seed is still there it's alive it's still growing quarter of a second before midnight long hair graded type anti-establishment talking about peace and brotherhood and then a 40th of a second before midnight which is the point of all this the industrial revolution began just to 40th of a second now in that 40th of a second we 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 these people conclude that from that 40th of a second and what we did there and got away with it we found a new formula for life somehow and that we could now forget everything that had been forming living since last Tuesday and the importance of all that diversity since mid past since noon on Tuesday all this wisdom in the 40th of a second
and all this confidence all this assurance that you can take that little tiny flip and time and extrapolate from that and be anything but it's insane if you expect to get away with it and go on doubly that's the latest speeches and the most enlightened people we have senator muskie still talking about the growth that must go on certainly all the energy business people are talking about the doubling of the energy capacity whether it's reactors or steam plants or hydroelectric dams or whatever we must have in the next eight decade got a double double double again well I think that we finally can see that it's going to be not double or nothing but double and nothing if we double again and I think that we have about 10 years in which to decide that doubling is something that's an old habit as you've forgotten and I think the the hazard of it is now so clear that we will correct our way so I come out of this really an optimist we will come out of the 1970s
all right but not by virtue of anything we've done in the past only by virtue we're going to start to do now and what I would like to call the decade of renunciation one of the books we want to get out is an engagement calendar for next year I mean virtue all to get it we'll call up the renunciation calendar week by week and at the top of each page you'll have a list of things you don't have to do this week thank you and I will welcome suggestions for those page ads too but imagine yourself when it's doubling kick that going on a highway of mile an hour doubling your speed every 10 seconds one to two four eight to 60 nobody's going to bother about that but as I like to point out at 16 miles an hour you're traveling 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 until we began to use energy other than our own so just mark that point in passing so we use the horse double again that's 32 and we haven't used cheetahs yet except for fur 64 miles an hour double it again we're in trouble 128 miles an hour we've been doubling for a minute now and at that speed we're just about I think the equivalent doing the equivalent of the race through our last resources that's a fairly frightening speed at 188 miles an hour on the highway you know it isn't all right Jack simply because you haven't had an accident you can't just say you're not going to have one 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 siren and I think we are and I think you heard them and you heard them I think hear much more clearly than in many other places and I certainly think that the the student audiences I've 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 talked to some ITT executives and then also to the McKinsey company one of the biggest outfits in management consultant and I want to see if they are hearing those sirens the interest you know we can't keep doubling if you go up to 256 miles an hour you're off the road no matter what you do we can't do another double there's some other games to play and the first thing I think is to read out to use less and let's let's start using less the one of the most important offences against the planet let's start using less energy right now I think the the energy purveyors are probably the worst to the villains they're closely associated with what Mayor Alliodo and San Francisco calls the road gang that's the oil industry the automobile industry and the highway construction industry but the combination here is a pretty frightful one I'll in the environmental handbook but I'm sure everybody here must have by now the
Garrett DeBell says all power pollutes and I may be not solar power except at extent that people get sunburned but they certainly the others do we know that hydroelectric power does it puts country out of sight and it it endates all kinds of ecosystems all kinds of valuable parts of the balance that we want to see preserved and it's only a short range thing if you've got any kind of a time scale except Mr. Raffer you say because it's going to be not too long in periods of centuries or millennia that the the damn sights out of action so that's not good either fossil fuel you know all about already has one of our biggest problems we know what it's causing the damage it causes through our automobile we know what happens in in the power industry itself we're getting a lot of material in the air that we shouldn't have there the worst threat I think from the fossil fuels oil
coal oil shale natural gas is the danger I think to the oxygen system that we have to thank a tree I suppose a green tree for oxygen but don't thank it too profusely because for every molecule of oxygen you're a green tree releases during its daytime life it plans every molecule back part of it at night but all of them finally all are residue in depth to feed the slow smokeless fires of decay so there's no gain really from green things except that some of them had the good judgment back in the carboniferous period to be buried before they claimed that last oxygen maybe came fossil fuels to the extent that that oxygen was best freed from that obligation we have some and so here we go herring as fast as we can off shore and on to dig it up to strip line to get it back into the atmosphere again to reclaim its oxygen it doesn't leave very much for us so that that's one of the hazards I think we recognize pretty well there's also a
further hazard in fossil fuels there is some radioactive emission from the release of from a burning so even from those decks but the the worst radioactive releases of course are from the reactor we're on now have you a reactor coming near you don't be happy about it clean this clean atomic power to me is is the the dirtiest of all we still have without any visible means of control of agriculture yet pretty in escaping any emissions radioactive tripped on 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 then let's rethink because of what happens to the high level radioactive waste there is no solution for the handling of the high level radioactive waste there are various claims various theories one of them being that the by-hand is the nicest thing to do is to pack it up in a ceramic or glass concentrate it to pack it put it down in an old salt line somewhere and maybe this would work I've heard one physicist express serious dots
but if it works why don't they do it they don't do it it's not built into the economics of any of the reactors under construction the best system they have now having a bend in the idea of just putting it in the concrete package and dumping it at sea is the idea of like the hand for tank form or equipment that's out in Washington along the Columbia River which you probably read and there and these big stainless steel tanks every 15 years or so by remote control if nobody wants to lay the little stuff by hand they've got to move high level liquid radioactive waste from one tank to the other a new fresh tank and they've got to do this for a thousand years now when I say a thousand years I don't even believe that anymore because I don't trust the figures that we get everything you know is perfectly all right uh that there's no danger you've read about the what's happened now from Apollo 13 and we have this little reactor that was supposed to be up safely in the moon well it took a 500 thousand mile trip but it's still right back here it's emitting its radio activity I hope Dr. Teller notices that but some always had just a thousand
years do you think you can't 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 after us simply to defeat our own convenience our own desire for convenience I don't think we have that right at all if we should decide finally that we do have 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 thousand year plans and how we can spread out the resource base at least for a thousand years for the people that we reasonably can expect to follow so that they will have something to sustain them and to enjoy while they mind our garbage it seems to me that that's the least we can do well I didn't give you the crisis list but you know as well as I do that we've heard a lot about
it and you know as well as I do that it's causing a lot of trouble it's causing a great deal of worry there is a recent test at Stanford which explains what happens to people or a catalog what happens to people that are 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 feelings to hostility and to rationalization and then somewhere along the line they something else happens that they they go to a feeling of involvement and then to resolution that doesn't always happen I think that I've talked two words there in the downward movement of what happens what goes on in bad news I think you get a certain amount of it too much of it and you go into a frustration field that a lot of us share now and the frustration gets worse and worse and then this frustration various things happen that
are not going to reach and lead the solutions very rapidly in fact they will probably military against solutions and I think that a good many things that happen in my own hometown and probably yours don't seem to contribute as much as they might to changing and correcting the system we we have really just the pure essence of what frustration puts into people's actions and I'm against it I think that's one of the worst that building frustration and I think the establishment is being quite visually added I'm going to say a little bit later on at the the system needs correcting that I think that they're a good corrective mechanisms within the system that should be used better by those of us who seek change but I also think that those corrective mechanisms must be available for use and right now there are good many establishment types that just don't want it available from frustration I think you dropped down to the worst part hallucination this happened in Germany in World War II where the Jews who were getting closer and closer to
there being murdered by the Nazis began to hallucinate and the figure that this couldn't possibly happen to them I think we see signs of hallucination all around us I think that the the response of some industries right now to the ecology movements attack on is to hallucinate a little bit to think that somehow this is if I did a law pass away and we can just go on about our business as usual take the problem down to Madison Avenue and let them that then sweeten it up a bit don't take it to an engineer or to a sociologist or to an ecologist I think they're wrong I don't think we can afford that kind of hallucination I think we can afford and I'll get into that shortly I think we can afford a lot more involvement and I'll try to show a little bit later on how we might undertake to be involved in ways that perhaps you aren't involved yet but first I do have a little list of things that I think we can slow down there's only a temporary ban on the use of
default of two four five t and Vietnam where the use has been the worst and where it's caused all kinds of damage California is the worst the heaviest user in this country but even here although there is a restricted ban they're not taking you off shelves not saying you can't use what you already have they're not saying that you can't put it on forests or you can't put it on roadsides to control the weeds so it still gets into the system I know Mr. White side is indicated and then as the research that he's looked up he's a journalist himself there are indications that one two four five t burns or is burned or degrades in the presence of heat up to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit there is a byproduct of dioxins so there it is again and it's a frightful poison why do we want to use any defamation at all that's the question and my answer is we want to use it because we want to use serve the earth for man and other men and not too many of the other countries I suppose we want to get rid of the other living things that seem to be competing with
us for space or for food and somehow when we get some brown new poison that might certainly think of a bunch of him every year DDT is really old hat when we think of a new one we don't test to throw it well but we get it out there hoping it's going to wipe out the enemy by doing something to his nervous system he's breathing system something with a sword without recognizing that we all came from that same cell last two as you know and all the way from that first cell right down to here do each person living in this audience there's never been a failure of reproduction and from that cell to every living mosquito there is never going to fail you're in reproduction it's all part of the same little bit of magic potion there and you just don't know what you're doing to you when you try to do it to them this message has escaped the chemical industry Rachel Carson tried to point it out they laughed they didn't laugh they laughed rather badly and they're still trying to laugh at the people who try some other solution to getting along 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 and provide an opportunity for recurring renewing crops and at the Santa Cruz campus out in California there's some students there who are really I think doing some good work and I understand it's about the start here they've got their little garden going they've taken a very small piece of land there but by tailoring the use of a human hand of foot rather than to the machine and by remembering the importance of diversity they're getting enormously higher yields and the machine farmer can get they're building up the fertility through mulching from the University of Garbage and other things they're having a good time at it they're growing some vegetables they're growing some flowers and one of the things I like nicest is that down by the edge of the farm is a flower stand and the flowers are free you come in and have them and you decorate the classroom you decorate your home if you live in campus you decorate the dorm they are practically euphoric about what's happening those that are working on this this little piece of land that's one of the things we can think about doing
besides collecting things in any event we've got I think to get rid of this idea that we miss poison everything else there are too many ricochets in this kind of warfare how do we get the cars out of cities I have a little note to myself how do we free organizations from the tyranny that they're in conservation of the 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 in the Soviet Union and I think it's time to recall for one that really sets aside various parts of the country for the kinds of things they can do best this this kind of geological biological resource how can it work best you don't put cities on class one soil planner
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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Chicago: “ David Brower: Speaks about "What Will it Cost the Earth" at Kelly Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio (Part A) ,” 1970-04-19, WYSO, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “ David Brower: Speaks about "What Will it Cost the Earth" at Kelly Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio (Part A) .” 1970-04-19. WYSO, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: David Brower: Speaks about "What Will it Cost the Earth" at Kelly Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio (Part A) . Boston, MA: WYSO, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from