GEORGE R. STEWART AND EARTH DAY – RANGER DON

George R. Stewart and Earth Day

Many people credit the Sierra Club’s Exhibit This Is The American Earth and the subsequent Sierra Club book based on the exhibit as the foundation of Earth Day.  Others credit the first Whole Earth photographs taken by the Apollo 8 crew.  Both are important events.

I believe, however, that the initial inspiration came from the widely-read works of George R. Stewart – published and widely read decades before the exhibit, or Apollo 8’s photographs.

am earth

In 1936, Stewart’s Ordeal By Hunger opened with a view of Northern Nevada from low Earth orbit, so precisely described that eventual ISS images of the area closely matched his text.  And Stewart closed the history with the comment that “…I consider the land to be a character in the work.”

That is a remarkable statement of the ecological viewpoint 34 years before Earth Day I. Since the book was (and is) widely read, readers were learning the Whole Earth viewpoint long before there was a Day to celebrate it.

The blue marble of Earth

In 1936, Stewart’s Ordeal By Hunger opened with a view of Northern Nevada from low Earth orbit, so precisely described that eventual ISS images of the area closely matched his text.  And Stewart closed the history with the comment that “… I consider the land to be a character in the work.”

That is a remarkable statement of the ecological viewpoint 34-years before Earth Day I.   Since the book was (and is) widely read, readers were learning the Whole Earth viewpoint long before there was a Day to celebrate it.

In the next decade, Stewart wrote 3 ecological novels.  Two –- 1941’s Storm and 1949’s enduring classic Earth Abides –- included passages with the view of Earth from space.  All three were profoundly ecological in nature.  In fact, in 1948, before Fire was published George R. Stewart identified himself as “what might be called an ecologist” –– 22 years before Earth Day I.

Storm gave us the practice of naming storms. To make the point that the storm in his novel was the main protagonist Stewart didn’t name most of the human characters but named the storm.  It’s an excellent read, still frequently reprinted, as is Fire, his novel of fire ecology.

Both novels are tour de forces of ecology, weaving lifeforms, landforms, climate, humans, and human history and myth together with a deep sense of “the land.”


Earth Abides
is Stewart’s extraordinary never out-of-print classic.  It prophesied the current coronavirus pandemic 71-years ago.  When protagonist Isherwood Williams learns most humans have been wiped out by disease he decides to survive so he can observe the ecosystem adjust to the removal of humans — in what we would call the post-Anthropocene.

Ish observes what we are now seeing – the return of wildlife to human areas and humans experiencing a world without the noise, pollution, and similar nonsense of the Anthropocene.

Earth Abides is scheduled to be reprinted next October; it can be pre-ordered now.


Please see the original post at

The EARTH ABIDES Project

A site for George R. Stewart: Author of the classic EARTH ABIDES

IT’S THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Trump is an awful man. I can’t seem to find something positive to say about him and for me, that’s unusual. I can always empathize, even with very bad people (not including one ex-husband). But not Trump. For him, I can’t find a teardrop of compassion. He has no soul or conscience. He is a greedy, empty-headed abuser, liar, and racist.

Ponder the meaning of life, death, and stupidity. Ponder really hard!

Somehow, America made him president. At least a portion of voting Americans had a hand in his election as well as a lot of Russian bots. I would like to believe that not everyone knew what a complete disaster he’d be. We certainly didn’t expect the next plague, but others did. Our president fired the ones who tried to warn him this was coming and for all he knew, was already here. So here we are.

Plague spares no one. Wealth won’t protect you nor religion or politics. Prince Charles is ill but his 93-year-old mother is not. Boris Johnson was moved into the hospital today. My generation who have been dying for a while are now dying faster and more furiously. A lot of younger people are dying too. Plague is about as non-denominational as anything gets.

Many of us (sadly, including me) assumed that should Trump be elected (I had that awful feeling he would be elected), the weight of his office would force him to become a president. This didn’t happen, proving you get exactly what you vote for. It’s like marrying an abusive guy because you’re sure you are the one who will (finally) reform him.

Moral? If you elect a bad guy, making him president won’t improve him.

Previously, people (mostly) changed when they were elected to high office. Trump, on the other hand, is an ignoramus and proud of it, With an election getting close while all of us are locked down, my party — Democrats — haven’t completed their primaries or had a convention. There may not be a live convention. Exactly how we are going to choose a candidate is a bit whimsical.

A few folks wonder what there will be to govern if we won. This is one of the times when winning might not be in our best interests. We are going to be in a hot mess when the virus runs its course, which might take a lot longer than even our worst-case scenario suggests.

We can’t blame the plague entirely on Trump, but we can put a big luminescent sticker on his ghastly ass regarding the amount of damage it’s doing. His unwillingness to cope with the alarming predictions as well as his lack of concern what this outbreak would do to us — Americans — is not merely deplorable. It’s … well … breathtaking.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

It turns out leadership can only be as good as who we elect. Being a constitutional republic, we don’t have the option of voting out a bad prime minister and exchanging him or her for a nominally better one for any reason short of actual treason. We should have gone the Parliamentary route. If I go back in time, I think I’ll mention that to the “Founding Fathers.” I hate that phrase, by the way. Isn’t there something else we could call them? “Founding Fathers” is so … stiff.

Short of rewriting the constitution,  we are stuck. History will change us. Change the world. I think in 20 years, we won’t have this government. That might not be such a bad thing.

I wish I could live long enough to see how it comes together. I don’t think either me or Garry has enough decades to see how it turns out. My boomer generation won’t experience a lot of change. We are no longer part of the job market, no longer fighting for our standing in the world. Not climbing the greed and success ladder. We are pretty much done with ambition and were looking forward to some ease and relaxation before moving on.

Anyone who is still in the job market will feel the weight of it assuming the planet lets us continue to live on it. This month’s “National Geographic” magazine marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It lays out the optimistic and pessimistic views of the world to come. The pessimistic view is heartstopping. Makes the blood in your veins freeze. Even the optimistic look isn’t great. I got so demoralized, I couldn’t even look at the graphics.

This plague has blocked everything else. A new world awaits us and I hope it’s a better one. If better isn’t possible, functional might do the job.

Boomers didn’t ruin the world. We tried to improve it, but we didn’t get it done. The human race ganged up on the planet and we all ruined it together. We seem dead set to continue ruining it. Someone will need to fight to save it. Probably you guys, the ones who can’t resist a new iPhone at any price. You will have to give up a few things and do many other things differently.

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

It is hard but it’s your future. We old folks who you so eagerly blame for everything will be dead. Once upon a time, we too looked to our future and did the best we could with it. Our parents didn’t ‘get us’ at all. We look at our world and decided to change it. But for you, our time is done. We will return to the stars and the world will be yours. If you don’t fix it, you, your children, and grandchildren won’t have a livable world.

Activism isn’t easy, but maybe it’s time to detach from the toys. Earth used to be a nice place. It could be again. Good luck!

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac

Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”

Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

ANOTHER OPEN LETTER TO MANKIND FROM PLANET EARTH – BY TOM CURLEY

Hi Mankind. This is Earth again. Some of you call me Earth, some call me Terra, some call me Gaia.  Call me what you want. Just don’t call me late for dinner.  (I still don’t really get that joke, but I got a whole bunch of ‘likes’ when I said it in the last letter I wrote you).

I last wrote you on Earth Day in 2019.  I was touched at how many of you felt you were destroying my environment and maybe you should stop doing that. I pointed out that I’ll be fine. I’ve been around for a few billion years. My environment changes all the time. It’s you guys who should be worried.

I’m writing this time because I noticed that you are all getting sick. Really sick. All over me. Everywhere. This isn’t surprising. It happens more often than you think. You just don’t notice it because you guys have really short life spans and even shorter attention spans. I know a lot of you write stuff down when things happen. You call it “history.”

I’ve also noticed most of you don’t read history. If you do, you can’t remember it.

For my first few billion years, I was pretty much a big ball of hot rocks and volcanos. Then something happened and it rained for a long time, even by my standards.

Then the weirdest thing happened. Life appeared. It was really cool. I enjoyed watching it grow and develop.  Much more interesting than watching a volcano erupt. I mean, it’s still cool, but it does get a little boring after the first few billion years.

I noticed after a while that all the different types of plants and animals developed a system to make an environment that made it easier for them to survive. I think you folks call it “Ecology.” It made sure that if one species grew too much or was eating more than they should, something would slow them down.

For instance, if there were too many plants and trees, deer and other animals would eat plants and trees. If there were too many deer, wolves would eat more of them. If there were too many wolves, they would die out because they ran out of deer to eat. You get the idea.

Then you guys came along. At first, you pretty much fit in with all the other life on my surface. I noticed, as time went on, you started to figure out how to get around all the checks and balances that would keep your population in check. And in balance.

You figured out how to live in any of my climates. My deserts, my mountains, my lakes, my forests. Suddenly, you were everywhere. After a while, there were no normal ways to keep your population in check. Or in balance. Sure, you could get eaten by lion, or a tiger, or a bear (someone told me if I say ‘Oh My” right now I’d get a big laugh. Don’t get the reference, but what the hell, why not. Click “like” or “subscribe” below). But there’s not enough of them to make any real difference.

There are only two things I’ve seen that tends to weed you out.  First, there’s disease. Epidemics. Pandemics. It works pretty well. You had one a while back. I think you called it the “The Black Death.” Oh, and don’t forget the 1918 flu. That was even bigger than “The Black Death.” It did a really good job. 50 million deaths on that one.

Global disease isn’t working long term. Not as well as it used to work. You’re figuring out ways to get around it.

But what I find fascinating is that you guys are trying to help out by finding ways to kill yourselves off!  For instance. You invented war. Do you know you are the only species to do that on a global level?  Damned nice of you to try to help out the ecology. But it hasn’t really worked well in the long run.

Why are we bothering? We’re just going to have to do this again in 20 years.

However, you still have a very powerful tool to help you all “cull the herd,” as you like to say. That tool is stupidity. It’s been around since you all showed up. Recently, I’ve noticed the number of stupid people seems to be growing exponentially. (I’m not totally sure what that word means, but I see it a lot on the news.)

Even though you’ve figured out ways to stop this current virus, stupidity is fighting back. It could be winning. I’ve seen the stupidest among you having protests, gathering together in large crowds and hugging and kissing each other. They claim this virus is a hoax. They don’t believe it’s real. The great thing about a virus is that it couldn’t care less if you believe it’s real. It just wants you to hug and kiss and get together in big crowds.

Now, there is a possibility that stupidity might stop being as effective as it currently is. In theory, humans could reach “Peak Stupidity” after which the stupidity curve would flatten out. Then the virus would be less effective at “culling the herd.”

I’m not worried about that. I don’t think there is a peak. You can’t cure stupidity.

I think it was one of your unusually smart humans, Einstein, Steinberg, something like that. He wrote, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the former.”


So, there you have it mankind. I must admit, I really don’t want you all to disappear.  I’ve watched millions of species come and go. I’ve liked most of them. I’ve grown really fond of you guys. I mean, you invented beer! And Netflix! I’ve really gotten into Netflix. I can’t stop watching Tiger King. Talk about stupid!

Sincerely yours,

The Earth

ON THE UPCOMING 50th ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Trump is an awful man. I can’t seem to find something positive to say about him and for me, that’s unusual. I can always empathize, even with very bad people (not including one ex-husband). But not Trump. For him, I can’t find a teardrop of compassion. He has no soul or conscience. He is a greedy, empty-headed abuser, liar, and racist.

Somehow, America made him president. At least a portion of voting Americans had a hand in his election as well as a lot of Russian bots. I would like to believe that not everyone knew what a complete disaster he’d be. We certainly didn’t expect the next plague, but others did. Our president fired the ones who tried to warn him this was coming and for all he knew, was already here. So here we are.

Plague spares no one. Wealth won’t protect you nor religion or politics. Prince Charles is ill but his 93-year-old mother is not. Boris Johnson was moved into the hospital today. My generation who have been dying for a while are now dying faster and more furiously. A lot of younger people are dying too. Plague is about as non-denominational as anything gets.

Many of us (sadly, including me) assumed that should Trump be elected (I had that awful feeling he would be elected), the weight of his office would force him to become a president. This didn’t happen, proving you get exactly what you vote for. It’s like marrying an abusive guy because you’re sure you are the one who will (finally) reform him.

Moral? If you elect a bad guy, making him president won’t improve him.

Previously, people (mostly) changed when they were elected to high office. Trump, on the other hand, is an ignoramus and proud of it, With an election getting close while all of us are locked down, my party — Democrats — haven’t completed their primaries or had a convention. There may not be a live convention. Exactly how we are going to choose a candidate is a bit whimsical.

A few folks wonder what there will be to govern if we won. This is one of the times when winning might not be in our best interests. We are going to be in a hot mess when the virus runs its course, which might take a lot longer than even our worst-case scenario suggests.

We can’t blame the plague entirely on Trump, but we can put a big luminescent sticker on his ghastly ass regarding the amount of damage it’s doing. His unwillingness to cope with the alarming predictions as well as his lack of concern what this outbreak would do to us — Americans — is not merely deplorable. It’s … well … breathtaking.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

It turns out leadership can only be as good as who we elect. Being a constitutional republic, we don’t have the option of voting out a bad prime minister and exchanging him or her for a nominally better one for any reason short of actual treason. We should have gone the Parliamentary route. If I go back in time, I think I’ll mention that to the “Founding Fathers.” I hate that phrase, by the way. Isn’t there something else we could call them? “Founding Fathers” is so … stiff.

Short of rewriting the constitution,  we are stuck. My understanding of history will change us. Change the world. I think in 20 years, we won’t have this same government. All things considered, that might not be such a bad thing.

I wish I could live long enough to see how it comes together. I don’t think either me or Garry has enough decades to see how it turns out. My boomer generation won’t experience a lot of change. We are no longer part of the job market, no longer fighting for our standing in the world. Not climbing the greed and success ladder. We are pretty much done with ambition and were looking forward to some ease and relaxation before moving on.

Anyone who is still in the job market will feel the weight of it assuming the planet lets us continue to live on it. This month’s “National Geographic” magazine marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It lays out the optimistic and pessimistic views of the world to come. The pessimistic view is heartstopping. Makes the blood in your veins freeze. Even the optimistic look isn’t great. I got so demoralized, I couldn’t even look at the graphics.

This plague has blocked everything else. A new world awaits us and I hope it’s a better one. If better isn’t possible, functional might do the job.

Boomers didn’t ruin the world. We tried to improve it, but we didn’t get it done. The human race ganged up on the planet and we all ruined it together. We seem dead set to continue ruining it. Someone will need to fight to save it. Probably you guys, the ones who can’t resist a new iPhone at any price. You will have to give up a few things and do many other things differently.

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

It is hard but it’s your future. We old folks who you so eagerly blame for everything will be dead. We will return to the stars and the world will be yours. If you don’t fix it, you, your children, and grandchildren won’t have a livable world.

Activism isn’t easy, but maybe it’s time to detach from toys and discover the world. Earth used to be a nice place. It could be again. Good luck.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac

Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”

Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

MY DEMONSTRATION – Martha Kennedy – Reblog

More good words for Earth Day. Because we older folks remember the day it began … and wonder why so little has been accomplished. This fragile craft grows more fragile every day.


 

I'm a Writer, Yes, I Am!

It turns out that the great love of my has been nature. Nothing and no one has given me — or asked from me — anything comparable. The photo above is of me, Dusty and my tree — it’s been my tree since I was fifteen. That tree taught me pretty much everything I have needed to know about faith, perseverance, beauty and survival. A tiny bit of it went into the ground with my dad when he was buried in Montana in 1972.

Me and Cody and my tree Cody O’Dog and I at my tree in 2010

Back in the day, when people were marching against the War in Vietnam and all manner of things, the only demonstration in which I participated was that of the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970.

I was a senior in high school in Colorado Springs. I had my mom’s car (I don’t remember why). I ditched school…

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Retro Nest Comic – April 23, 2015 – HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Earth Day where the morons trash one more park in honor of our home planet. Go Evil Squirrel!

Evil Squirrel's Nest

Happy Earth Day!  Though I’m far from a tree hugging environmentalist, even I agree it should be common sense to do what we can to take care of this planet.  It’s not like we can all just move to Uranus if we mess this one up.  BTW, Mobil One (As in the oil) has an Earth Day Drive Away contest Mecca is helping promote where the grand prize is a gas guzzling SUV.  I fucking kid you not…

Anyway, with that said, here is The Nest’s tribute to the greenest of all days.  I know Marilyn will enjoy seeing this one again.  It was inspired by Walt Kelly’s famous 1971 Earth Day comic that ran in his Pogo strip.  We have met the enemy, and he is us…

This was Comic #156.

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